Smiling (with My Kind of Screaming Theatre)

Smiling (with My Kind of Screaming Theatre)
Dedicated to Dohn, Jill, Pamela, Ronald, Charlie Chaplin and Temme

“Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you”
– Some of the lyrics added in 1954 to Charlie Chaplin’s music in Modern Times (1936)

“Scream with your heart as your heart is breaking.” — The Enemas

“Do you know your enemy?” — from Green Day’s Know Your Enemy

In the Centennial Edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four Thomas Pynchon wrote something very beautiful and instructive in his Foreward to George Orwell’s classic work.

“There is a photograph, taken around 1946 is Islington, of Orwell with his adopted son, Richard Haratio Blair. The little boy, who would have been around two at the time, is beaming, with unguarded delight. Orwell is holding him gently with both hands, smiling too, pleased but not smugly so — it is more complex than that, as if he has discovered something that might be worth even more than anger — his head titled a bit, his eyes with a careful look that might remind filmgoers of a Robert Duvall character with a backstory in which he has seen more than one perhaps would have preferred to. Winston Smith ‘believed that he had been born in 1944 or 1945…’ Richard Blair was born May 14, 1944. It is not difficult to guess that Orwell, in 1984, was imagining a future for his son’s generation, a world he was not so much wishing upon them as warning against. He was impatient with predictions of the inevitable, he remained confident in the ability of ordinary people to change anything, if they would. It is the boy’s smile, in any case, that we return to, direct and radiant, proceeding out of an unhesitating faith in the world, at the end of the day, is good, and that human decency, like parental love, can always be taken for granted — a faith so honorable that we can almost imagine Orwell, and perhaps even ourselves, for a moment anyway swearing to do whatever must be done to keep it from ever being betrayed.”

Human decency is not being honored today. Less than ever? With Our Momentum slated to degrade its importance even further? See And, by the way (in case you haven’t noticed), parental love itself isn’t faring too well either… in too many quarters.

The kind of theatre that I’d like to put my heartbeats into this time around is the sort of fare which takes Brecht, Genet, Caryl Churchill, Tony Kushner et. al. not just a step further, but, rather, quite a few steps further. That will bring a smile to my face because it will be laced with neither self-draining, self-effacing fury nor pleas for petitions and (useless) marching in circles, but, rather, will offer a proposal for action, something other than false hope.

Not just a statement of disenchantment with the status quo, but a deep (disturbing) delineation of matters not allowed on the stages of U.S. institutions of (so-called) higher education*, AND an urging to embrace a specific solution of sorts following a new paradigm for protest, one befitting the present situation in which we find ourselves

This is Theatre for Everyone, from those on Cloud Nine to those with nine-inch nails under their fingernails. Theatre for Citizens, encouraging community, supportive of those who would awake and sing.

*Someone asked me recently how I could judge an upcoming production of The Grapes of Wrath at a local college. How I could label it prematurely. I thought long and hard about that legit question. Well, I could be way off, of course, but… the fact that people intimately connected with the production have chosen not to respond to my offer to contribute to their work (on a basis that would suit their purposes) makes me suspicious… that it’s going to turn out to be just another safe production of the work, not presented in a way that’ll truly challenge its audience. That’s very typical of our college and university productions… which routinely stay within accepted parameters… serving as Gatekeepers’ fare. Hmm… maybe I wouldn’t have gone down this attitudinal road if the faculty had simply said “Thanks, but no thanks.” For common courtesy is a first cousin to human decency, not easily dismissed in the name of… being busy. can be used as a point of departure for further discussion… for those interested in exploring the above. If I get enough of a quality response from my new found friends in the Aptos area… I will get back to work on the theatrical equivalent of what began with a handful of women in upstate New York… one hot summer day… on July 13, 1848… at the home of Jane and Richard Hunt… in the face of very daunting powers that be, the birth of women’s suffrage. Something that’s supposed to be without efficacy in this so-called real world.

I trust that the above will bring a smile to your face as your heart screams for a better world, using untapped aspects of the theatre

I am horrified at the resignation. The denial is appalling. As is the rationalization. And the ignorance compounding ignorance enveloping U.S. citizens increases daily; it proceeds at a frightening pace. Hey, what’s the deal with all this atomization? [Pause.] But we will offer an alternative to those who are sensitive enough to feel. For as the women of the 19th-century confronted all-powerful, utterly entrenched men, in the trenches now we are obliged to battle women who have become very ugly men, and men more monstrous than Moloch. If only in the name of Art… and to save a few children in the land that banned Charlie Chaplin, and buried his heart, …but not his lyrical life.