File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 126


To: <puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org>
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2008 02:29:43 -0500
Subject: [Puptcrit] Living, breathing art is MESSY


I strongly disagree with the concept that I, as an artist, should size up my audience and radically alter or adjust my show accordingly on a case by case basis. 

    I totally agree, and would never expect such a thing.  In the case of B&P, however, the removal of skits they may have deemed "not appropriate" for the audience would have been easy as pie.  We actually reworked a few things 20 minutes before the show when we moved it to an incredibly smaller space, added a couple things, took out a couple things.  At Thalian Hall, they knew who the audience was before the show started-and I don't think they really thought it was inappropriate.  We all say things following an unpleasant event to attempt to justify our own position in it (like I've been doing for over a week).  And we talked about it for a long time afterward, a large focus of the discussion being what was offensive, why this happened, etc.  

     Before they arrived, I was in constant contact with their representative; I promoted the shows with the descriptions I received, along with a history of B&P and their website link; I distributed pictures of the work...

    I have been on all the sides of situations like these, which is why I'm really not angry at anyone about what happened, and I'm not willing to pass out blame easily.  I know what it is like to be a performer in and director of works that have been appropriate and those that were inappropriate, and I have made some mistakes in judgement therein; I have been a teacher, and I know the wrath of the Offended (one of my favorites: I was called into the principal's office because a parent complained about my assignment, which required an argumentative essay without the use of, among several things, religious doctrine)...I have compassion for my boss, I know he was acting out the fear all administrators (dependent on our supporters, remember) have -doing the Dance of Social Mores, which involves doing whatever necessary to Show the World you strongly defend the Offended and will not Tolerate Immorality (or something like that).  I poke fun, but I know and live this fear!

     I really don't know that it's necessary to figure out whose fault it was, but I do know my board will try, the school will try, because it's a neat package then. What can I say when the blame comes my way? I had a lot of information, including seeing the troupe perform what I thought were similar shows to what we were getting.  But my information wasn't adequate-who knew?  I contracted them for a school show, maybe they didn't know the age/the culture/the sensitivity-who knew?  My boss-he was nervous, and having no experience with the troupe at all, wasn't sure WHAT in the world would crop up next-were they going to get naked? Who knew?

     Let me rephrase this-I really don't know that it is ANYONE'S fault-although little uncertainties abound all around.  I think it was an unexpected, uncomfortable, awkward incident that happened because of the coalescence of a variety of factors.  It is amusing to me that people can't accept the underlying chaos in society/universe even when we are smacked in the face with it all the time!  Part of our control fantasy is played out with the power of blame.

     Don't tell anyone, but I actually believe a lot of good has (or will) come of this for my town.  And if something like this didn't ever happen, I'm not sure we could call Bread and Puppet a force of nature anymore.  The unexpected happened.  Living, breathing Art, yes? 

And yes, it will be really sad if I lose my job over it.  I expect I'll know tomorrow.  
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