Been a while – hi! I’ve been doing some reading, but the plays have all been in collections and so it is taking a while to get through all of them. Some Suzan-Lori Parks, some Sam Shepard… and, to top it all off, I’m reading some Kierkegaard for philosophy. Look for some real updates after spring break – but before then… one last American Play for the American Half of Contemporary.
I saw a production of bobrauschenbergamerica in September 2006, shortly after arriving at BC. I hated it. It was the first thing I saw at the A.R.T. and I hated it. The worst part was that Scott clearly loved it and (being my DSTP teacher at the time) I felt bad not enjoying this play that he felt very dearly about. That said, I still made it clear that the play felt like art for art’s sake and I hated that (still do – hate that).
How things change. Three and a half years later, I approach this play again. A sort of bookend to my time at BC (though there are definitely more plays coming in Contemp). And I find myself loving it. I wish I could see it today. Are there still problems with it? Yes – but I understand Charles Mee far better than I ever did as a stupid freshman.
Part of that comes from having stage-managed Wintertime as a sophomore. I noticed some of the “Mee-isms” popping in – Bob appears and monologues. Certain repeated lines – “feel like you are losing me…” etc etc. This was wonderful – it felt like returning to an old friend.
The play itself has more of a plot than I remember, though that plot is rather loose. There are relationships between members of the cast, but it seems as though the main purpose of everything onstage is to create images. Collages, if you will – like Rauschenberg might have done. Near the end, it really does get a bit much and you can’t imagine how there can be more of this and it just makes no sense and OKAY already and then suddenly its over. And we realize something – we realize that there is a point to the madness of the play. Bob’s Mom says, throughout, that “art wasn’t a part of our lives.” The thing is, art is our lives. Our lives are art. Every moment, no matter how quotidian. That’s the message that comes out of this collage of a play. There are great moments – having seen the play, I can tell you that the chicken jokes are brilliant… the human martini is lovely… and the assassination is so terribly sad.
My one true complaint, though… is that this still isn’t really a play. It is more of an exercise, an event, a series of lightly connected vignettes. Is that bad? No, not necessarily – but I think there could, perhaps, have been more.