Blog | We Are All Outsiders

We Are All Outsiders

By admin | September 28, 2017

by Colin Thomas

It’s One of the Big Questions: Who the Hell Am I?

Personally, I tend to see other people as coherent, as fixed and stable in their identities. But, in my experience of myself, I know that I’m a roiling mess; I’m making this identity thing up as I go along.

Buddhism has long stated that the fixed self is an illusion and, increasingly, neuroscience is corroborating this viewpoint: our sense of ourselves is the product of an ongoing conversation that’s taking place between various parts of our brain.

I would argue that theatre celebrates the notion of the unstable, and therefore changeable, self. As we watch a play, we get access to the inner lives of the characters—to their complexities, contradictions, and struggles.

Theatre allows us to see that everybody feels that parts of themselves are messy and unacceptable.

That’s why this issue of Fresh Sheet is dedicated to the reassuring notion that we are all outsiders.

The Myth of Angry Feminism

In this lovely piece from a newsletter called Lenny, which I’d never heard of before, Olivia Clement interviews playwright Paula Vogel about her new play, Indecent.

Vogel is a heavy hitter. In 1998, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her play How I Learned to Drive. Four of her playwriting students—Vogel has led the playwriting programs at Brown University and the Yale School of Drama—have also won Pulitzers.

Indecent revisits the controversy that arose when Sholem Asch’s script God of Vengeance was mounted on Broadway in 1923. Some say that God of Vengeance contained the first lesbian kiss seen on an American stage; it was certainly the first on Broadway. The cast and creative team were convicted on charges of obscenity.

In this piece, Vogel talks about outsiders, including gender outlaws and refugees. And she talks about how a desire for justice—even a furious desire for justice—comes from a place of love.

Bobby/Bobby bubi/Bobbi

Patti LuPone has just signed on to appear in the new, gender-flipping version of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, which will play on London’s West End.

Director Marianne Elliott has cast Rosalie Craig in the lead role of Bobby—now Bobbi—who is a single, lonely, 35-year-old New Yorker. A flight attendant named April will become Andy.

LuPone has been cast as the vodka-guzzling Joanne, who sings “The Ladies Who Lunch,” a role she’s played before.

Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the music and lyrics for Company, is intrigued by Elliott’s choices. As he points out in this article from the Los Angeles Times, “The thing about the theater as opposed to movies and television, is it’s malleable”—and malleability is what keeps scripts alive.

LuPone is delighted to be working with Elliott, who directed the enormous hits, War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog on the Night-Time.

The Stage quotes LuPone: “I saw War Horse in New York and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in London. I came out of both productions blown away by Elliott’s vision. So naturally I am thrilled beyond words that she wants me to be a part of Company.”

Superpowers: Lasers, Art, and Love

29 year old Australian artist Tim Sharp created Laser Beak Man when he was 11. The character has become a recurrent figure in Sharp’s drawings, and now Laser Beak Man has his own eponymous play at the Brisbane Festival.

As the Laser Beak Man website makes clear, Sharp has enjoyed many successes. But, when he was diagnosed with autism at age three, a specialist told his mother Judy that he would never be able to talk—or love her. The specialist recommended institutionalization, but Judy refused and dedicated herself to her son’s care. “Me and Mum, we are a really good team,” Sharp says now. “We love each other, we’re nice to each other, we like hanging out, we always help and do lots of cool things together. And we are happy at home.”

According to The Guardian, Laser Beak Man is “a joyful 90 minutes of puppetry, live music, floating helium-and-battery-powered orbs, and animation rendered in the bright crayon colours of Sharp’s drawings.”

Sharp says that Laser Beak Man has a superpower: “He has a laser in his beak that turns people from bad to good.” Sharp has his own special power: “Making art—it makes me happy.”

Eat Fruit. Love Lust.

Let’s hear it for the female gaze—and female sexuality. The Goblin Market, which is playing the York from this Tuesday, October 3, until the 14, promises cascades of both.

In The Goblin Market, The Dust Palace, a circus from New Zealand, embodies Christina Rossetti’s erotic poem, in which two sisters are tempted by goblin men and find redemption in one another’s arms.

The reviews are ecstatic. Get your tickets here.

Is the camera mightier than the sword? Tetsuro Shigematsu in his new solo, 1 Hour Photo.

Is the camera mightier than the sword? Tetsuro Shigematsu in his new solo, 1 Hour Photo.

Colour Saturation

Tetsuro Shigematsu’s highly anticipated 1 Hour Photo premieres at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre on October 4 and runs to the 15.

In 2015, Shigematsu and the presenting company, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, enjoyed runaway success with Empire of the Son.

In 1 Hour Photo, the same team takes on the true story of Mas Yamamoto, who was born in a fishing village on the banks of the Fraser River, was interned during WWII, and guarded the Canadian arctic against Russian bombers during the Cold War.

The press release promises “a moving portrait saturated with the most vivid colours of our time.” If you want to soak up those colours, book your seats now.

Still hungry?

Writer Mike Birbiglia suggests embracing criticism, learning from failure, and seriously considering the possibility of quitting.

Writer Mike Birbiglia suggests embracing criticism, learning from failure, and seriously considering the possibility of quitting.

Want more?

Come on over to my blog and sign up for my newsletter. My favourite item this week is about the importance of failure, especially in artistic practice.

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