Friday, July 24, 2009

The Forgotten Theater

Last night, I was flipping through my catch-all notebook. That is, the notebook I always (or almost always) carry with me and in which notes to stuff, short stories, directions, shopping lists, etc get scribbled in no particular order, sometimes starting from the front, sometimes the back, and now, from the middle.

It's hard to find stuff in this notebook, of course. There are notes for my thesis in both the front and back and notes for other papers written in school intermingled throughout the book. I am kind of amazed I was able to write orderly papers last year (ok, I will grant that some of those papers weren't so orderly. Some really really sucked. But my thesis was great!).

Then I found some notes from a play I must have written a review about. Except, I don't remember the show at all and the notes I wrote don't help: domestic drama; engaging dialogue; but too common, almost boring. Death of father releases characters to truly live." Hm, well okay then. No wonder I don't remember it (and after scanning every review I've written, I still don't know what show it was for).

Which makes me wonder why we even bother to see stuff if we'll just forget most of it a few months later. I occasionally beat myself up about missing shows, shows I'll not remember months or years later, shows that most likely will not make a dent in my life.

That's a bleak outlook, I realize. But does there have to be a lot of dreck in order for there to be gold? I.e. do we need to have forgettable theater in order to have memorable theater? Is memorable theater really that memorable? Surely you won't quite remember every detail of the show years from now, perhaps you'll remember the feeling you got watching it, perhaps you'll spend your life trying to replicate that feeling at other shows, making those dull, forgettable pieces all that much worse.

I remember many plays and performances I've seen. But in the end, even the ones I've walked away from the theater feeling breathless about and in awe of become faded memories that I'll never relive or recapture. What's the point, what's my point? I suppose the point is the experience, even if the experience is transitory. Life is transitory, I suppose life is a bit pointless, I suppose worrying about what the point is is a bit pointless.

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