Been reading Mac Wellman and Young Jean Lee’s (editors) NEW DOWNTOWN NOW — and now I have a phrase to describe the kind of play that I used to call “you know, kinda cool, crazy, language-drenched, non-narrative experimental stuff.” Jeffrey Jones calls them “Curious Plays” in the introduction (and you should always read the introduction).
Jones points out that, despite how cool these plays are, we can easily find ourselves bored when trying to read them because “it’s when we really can’t figure out what’s going on — as when reading or watching a Curious Play — that we’re likeliest to feel bored.” He continues:
And it is precisely to minimize this risk of boredom…that theater has become uniquely convention-bound and resistant to innovation. It is convention-bound because it relies on familiar and well-understood forms, structures, and dramaturgical principles in order to make it as easy as possible to figure out what’s going on, pay attention, and not feel bored. Conventional theater, in other words, makes reading plays as easy as possible by making all plays more or less the same. Whereas the Curious Play aspires to be something new — hence necessarily different.
Isaac Butler mentioned being bored by the traditional way of rehearsing a play. I wonder if plays such as those mentioned above — Curious Plays, which I’d argue is partially what George Hunka‘s IN PUBLIC is (since it’s “both realistic and not”) (which I know because I got to read a draft, since I ain’t gonna get to see it, since I’m in San Francisco) (still with me on this sentence?) — call for a different approach to rehearsal as well as a different approach to reading and watching.
I’ll be following Isaac’s approach closely and seeing what he comes up with. Meantime, I can’t wait to get farther into this book. Cause when you’re digging a book on Page IX, you’re in for a treat.