August: Osage County (why I’ll try theatre again)

2/26/2008 4:07 AM

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I got an email from Sunil Vyas while I was at work yesterday and he just responded again. It seems I’ll see him on Monday the 3rd for dinner. How exciting. I am up on time and ready to go, but I want to write a little here first.
I keep thinking of the play that I went to see with Chandler. “August: Osage County” was a great play and in spite of the fact that I usually do not enjoy big c culture events I loved this one. I think I’d like to write a brief post about it for the Blog. I should start with the fact that I often, peremptorily, prejudicially and without cause, don’t like going to plays and being around the theatre crowd. This goes double for opera, classical music and experimental theatre. The last play I went to was the one about Buckminster Fuller with my dad (which has its own special load of fraught freight). I remember that it was in a warehouse-type theatre with lots of really engaged people, not a few of whom were old hippies like my dad. As I went into the big space with bleachers built to face the stage I enjoyed the “archive of Buckminster Fuller” and the “world games” that filled the space like some experimental museum. But I was not comfortable.
In spite of the fact that is was like a trip to my childhood, with buckyball globes (tetrahedrons cut out of postcards) made of cardboard and other oddities of the subject of the play, I felt disease. It is the same feeling I get when I go to the opera in SF, or Philly or (strangely to a lesser extent) in New York. I got crabby and judgmental, spending as much time assessing the clothes, styles, class and culture of my fellow theatre goers as I did watching the play, theatre, opera or anything else.
When I go to big-C-cultural events I inevitably start to compare instead of identifying. I begin to reach a point where I note every difference between myself and the other people attending the same production. I’ve noted before that I don’t get this way when I’m in an art museum, so this alienation and judgment is particular to the theatre-arts big-C-cultural events. I just don’t know why. I suppose I could go to a few years of therapy and figure it out, but I like sitting in my grouch-can complaining too much.
“August: Osage County” was a great play and a big-C-cultural event that I truly enjoyed. This leads me to believe that the real issue is the quality or my engagement with the productions I’ve seen. I know that I did actually enjoy the St. Petersburg production of Pushkin’s “The Fiery Angel,” but it had massive full frontal nudity and catholic bashing (fifty nuns stripped down and climbed all over the set nude: it was spectacular). But, I also enjoyed “August: Osage County” and it had no nudity. It was a human drama full of real people and actual emotions covered in very funny humor, which is how I try to avoid my feelings.
From the moment the play began I stopped taking inventory of my fellow theatre-goers and did not notice a thing besides Chandler’s tired head on my shoulders until it was over. I wasn’t even bothered by the people pushing passed my seat to get oiled at intermission. The guy behind me who was so drunk that his breath was making me tipsy barely bothered me as I watched the drama unfold.
It was like watching the most dysfunctional family reunion or chistmas dinner ever, in the tawdriest trailer park in the south. Yet I had no judgment of the people on stage at all (in spite of the bashing that the description I just gave suggests). I was immediately struck by the humanity of the characters, the reality of the actors’ performances and the use of humor to deflect the horror of a domestic tragedy.
I loved the experience of this play and look forward to going to more drama, if it is this good. This one play rescued three genres of big-C-culture for me in one felled swoop.

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11 responses to “August: Osage County (why I’ll try theatre again)

  1. Ditto on the theater. Wish I had seen this one to maybe lighten/enlighten me to a new delight. The Times review tempts me to send one of our three daughters back into the stew to see it and report back. Envy here.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. The play was spectacular and the event transcended all of my fears and prejudices.

  3. Hey Staff
    I just saw Osage County for the 2nd time and was thrilled to hear you went with Chandelier…
    What a great impression for the both of you
    Would like to hear her thpughts on the play and hope you will take her to see STOPPARDS ROCK AND ROLL before it departs. Also try and see PASSING STRANGE and of course THE HOMECOMING and oh yes, a must see for all former and current tipsters, A MUST SEE is THE SEAFARER, the language is pure poetry and Jim Norton will win this years BEST ACTOR while Amy Morton should take home the honours for her role in Osage County
    Love and All that Jazz
    Adam

  4. Thanks, I hope I have the time to get to another play soon. You are the second person to recommend passing strange in the last 24 hours, so perhaps I’ll make that my target (as the semester gets going).

  5. I am going to see August: OC next week, I think. I want to see SeaFarer and Homecoming, as well as Rent before it closes. Perhaps, too I shall see Passing Strange. I haven’t many mates (anymore) who enjoy what you call Big C culture. It does my heart good to hear that you are coming over to the dark side.

  6. Satfford, Sounds great – maybe you will be going to dance performances next!

  7. three people have told me that this one is about my extended family… i live in a cornhole town in the midwest, and will travel to see August: OC.

    appreciate your write up about ‘cultural’ experiences. i too flop between “i don’t belong” and “i don’t WANT to belong”…

  8. Miss DaisyFae,

    You should definitely see it, It was a hoot and true and good and painful.

    Check this out too.

    http://entertainment.webshots.com/video/3074886570102760266ChKcRg

  9. great set in the image

  10. I wish that I had taken the time to get a better image, the set was spectacular in its 70s open gothic horror.

  11. If you liked that you should see “The Seagull” which ends Dec. 13th… awesome stuff.

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