This weekend I went to the theater.
I was asked to see George Bernard Shaw's The Philanderer. I'm usually not much of a Shaw fan and it makes sense why. In life, there's Brecht people and Shaw people.
It was the first time in a while that I was going to the theater as I'm finicky about play productions. Again, I'm into Brecht, so who can blame me? I wrote a satire-informed thing on him a while back, well ok, 'thing' is maybe not the word for it. Let's call it what it is, a study that took a year to write.
Something happens to art appreciation when much concentrated time is spent on one single topic. It becomes nigh impossible to be a passive appreciator of it, the art at hand. Plays are good and dandy. Brecht plays, on the other hand, are a homework assignment. They demand a kind of presence that needs to be not only informed but also reactive. Verfremdungseffekt. Alienation effect. Man, the former used to swim in my mouth so often.
So, after spending a boatload of time with Brecht's 'Verfremdungseffekt' it stands to reason that my subsequent theater experiences would be a bit different. Just a tad.
During intermission I'm asked how I like it.
Confession. I have a hard time with direct questions with the verb 'like' in them. I feel discomfort, resentment even, when I'm asked them as it feels like I have to commit to the interlocutor for a good number of minutes after I'm asked the question. And I'm finicky about time when I'm at an art venue.
I don't know, at times, how to answer these open-ended questions especially when I know I have a very limited amount of time and I have much to say. Instead, I get tongue-tied, purse my lips, feel my eyes moving about quickly as if they're trying to locate words, and say a generic, yes-punctuated: "Yes, interesting. Yes'
Then I'm asked what I make of the director's interpretation of Shaw's play. I don't know what to say specifically at this point. Where's economy of speech when you friggin' need it?! There's much I could say but I feel like saying nothing. I'd rather talk about the audience's sartorial choices instead. To be polite and in an effort to buy some time till the second part resumes, I do what makes me feel comfortable and in my element. I talk about music.
"What about that new Death Cab for Cutie album, Codes and Keys? It's coming at such a good time as I think I've been listening to The Limousines and The Strokes a bit much lately. I've been craving Ben Gibbard's voice."
And what do you know, the lights grow dim and intermission is over. Phew.
As the play resumes, and George Bernard Shaw's commentary on sociality, assumed social contractual obligations, and gender penetrantes my mind and I find myself getting into some kind of head space that's making me feel detached from everyone and everything. Alienated is perhaps a more suitable word. 'Now, I'm getting into this', I think to myself. Yes. My good pal Brecht is coming to the rescue. You can never take Brecht out of one, I suppose.
While I think that I could perhaps go to the theater like everyone else and occupy myself with such things as what pumps to wear with my dress and whether a clutch is better than a purse, I know that in actuality I'm more bound to be one of those individuals who after the experience will want to pay a visit to Brecht and bust open a Mother Courage or a Caucasian Chalk Circle later at home while HBO's Mildred Pierce plays in the background and rain is serving as the soundtrack de nuit.