Saturday, August 6, 2011

I - the Play, SummerWorks Festival 2011

I have a role in the play I, which is part of the SummerWorks Festival here in Toronto for 2011, and it's been great to have been a part of it so far. The Pulse Theatre Collective produced the play - written and directed by David Hersh and starring Emannuelle Zeesman - and their website can be found by clicking here.

The play is about a young female writer named Eugenia who moves to Paris (leaving her family and friends behind) to write her magnum opus. She meets the ghost of the playwright, who goes by the name of I, whom she's looked up to since childhood and he proceeds to become her mentor, although he quickly becomes tiresome and then eventually a threat.

My role in the play is small - I'm part of the Chorus and we represent I's mind. Which is a great concept, representing a ghost's mind. We're the ghosts within the ghost, it could be said.

I (the play) is metafictional and intertextual as it's based on a play by Eugène Ionesco. What appeals to me about the play is the role of I himself, who's played by David Macniven. I (the character) is self-aggrandizing, self-unaware and uninformed of basic concepts such as different religions, and cannot treat Eugenia with the respect and intelligence she bestows on him, instead baiting her into allowing him to play more games with her. Although this is interlaced with humour (and the play is very witty and funny, with an Abbot and Costello wraparound style)it still reflects on the character of I in a greater sense.

Because I gives Eugenia advice which is fundamental for success in writing, yet due to the nature of his character it wouldn't seem as though Eugenia would be apt to take it. I tells Eugenia that writing is a discipline, and that it needs to be done continuously - which reflects the advice I stumbled upon from the artist Chuck Close not too long ago.
Yet with all the stress Eugenia has to endure through I's mentorship, and his lack of real knowledge, it would be easy to cast aside his advice and just to do what she wants and feels.

To me this ties in closely to a parent-child relationship, where a parent might not know everything and can repel their children against their (maybe hard-fought) advice. And it also relates to the general idea of an author, and how some people look to them for the answers to all their questions.

Sometimes the artist is better off not known. There can be a transformation from an icon to a human being. Autonomy. I delves into this, albeit in a humorous fashion. Just throwing away all of our impressions and forging our own path is what Eugenia and I represent and also showcases the parent-child relationship where a growing child can decide not to follow the path of their parent. The rebellious artist, not knowing what will come of their endeavours. But if they stick with it, as I advises to, they can succeed.

I also tells Eugenia of what it takes to separate literature (wheat) from books (chaff). How a book has to either be someone cherishes or despises. And what would an author really want to create? One or the other or both? So these opposite ends of the spectrum graduate a book into literature. Which I think is sound advice to give to a young author because reading is only worthwhile if it sparks emotion and intellect.

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