Wednesday, January 27, 2010

KC love

The Event just played three nights out in Kansas City. Sounds like they nailed it.

This is Christopher Guerin at, Kansas City's Online Performance Journal:

The Event, by John Clancy, directed by Hughston Walkinshaw, and performed masterfully last Sunday evening by John Robert ("Bob") Paisley at the Kansas City Metropolitan Ensemble Theater (MET), was a brief glimpse behind the wizard's curtain in search of the answer to the question: "What is theater?" Truth be told, it also revealed a lot about the question: "What is life?"

I took its brevity as an implied challenge to answer with an equally brief critical analysis, for if The Event proves anything, it is this - while words matter, more of them doesn't necessarily carry greater meaning than fewer of them. Now, I have never been a fan of "stars" or "thumbs" (up or down) or other artifice when it comes to such an analysis, but if I were so inclined, I would use all of them for The Event. It was a remarkable, witty, irreverent and poignant introspection.

Readers who have attended other MET performances already know that this cutting-edge theatre carves out, on a shoestring, a formidable place in the Kansas City arts community and with The Event, Bob Paisley has single-handedly proven this again. Armed with the barest of stages - prop-less for about two-thirds of the performance, and only a chair thereafter - Paisley drew in the audience (the "strangers," as they are referred to throughout the monologue) from the first line, and he held them rapt to the last. The famous stage director, Peter Brook, had a powerfully austere vision of "theater" that seems to speak directly to what Bob Paisley was able to demonstrate so eloquently: "... take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him - and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged."

And thus The Event so engages the "strangers," asking them to consider the significance (or lack) of the power of words and the paradoxes those words, in that context, imply. In that mindset, consider this: All you, the reader, are doing at this very moment is reading my words about the words that were spoken by Mr. Paisley, whose words were, in turn, merely words that were written down - prior to mine, and prior to Paisley speaking them - by someone else (Mr. Clancy). What import do such words have? What gravity do they impose on the people - the "strangers" - around them? What consequence do they have outside the walls of the theater in which they are spoken? Much like life itself, The Event provides no answers - and therein, arguably, lies the magic that is theatre. We see theater - and life - all around us, but cogently verbalizing their essences remains forever elusive.

I came away from The Event with one line, in particular, haunting me: "A man, armed with memorized words, can only do so much." Though phrased as a statement, it begs analysis more as a rhetorical question. So - how valid a statement-question is that, really? For if it is true that the pen, as artistic lore suggests, is mightier than the sword, imagine how much more powerful those penned words can be when life is breathed into them by an actor.

Sunday evening, Bob Paisley breathed life into John Clancy's penned words. He carried no sword - but for that hour, he quite possibly may have been the most powerful man on earth ...

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

Wow. So good to see such getting-it-ness coming from so far inland.

Oh yes, I'm out here in the dark reading you, John Clancy. Me and the 'bot. Just because I'm not fit to compete in the MMMQ doesn't mean I don't keep up.