I seem to have developed a renewed interest in the theater. Years ago, in graduate school, I read a lot of drama, although I didn’t see so many productions. When I was teaching freshman composition, we also read some plays and watched a few filmed productions, and I enjoyed discussing these with the students: Chekhov, O’Neill, Stoppard, and others.
And, of course, I am a regular at the American Shakespeare Center. A play by a modern playwright is an anomaly there, though. Mostly they do plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
But I’m headed off to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference in a few weeks to attend the playwriting workshop. And in preparation for that I have been writing a play. It occurred to me recently, then, that I really ought to see some modern plays. I thought of running up to New York, and I may still do that later this summer or in the fall, but the opportunity arose to visit DC this week, and so I’m turning it into a theater adventure. First up was a trip to Woolly Mammoth for their production of Aaron Posner‘s Stupid Fucking Bird.
Loved it. The theater is a wonderful, intimate space. And the play, which is a very loose adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, is exciting to watch. One thing that I found fascinating was the play’s awareness of itself as art, with self-referential moments sprinkled throughout, such as where the characters speak to the audience not as imaginary participants in the play but as audience members at a play. The dialogue is funny and poignant, the characters all quite vividly drawn. It surely helps that the performances were all outstanding, too.
After the play, the group I was with sat down with the playwright for a talk. (I went with the Northwestern University Club of DC and Posner is a graduate of NU’s Performance Studies program.) That was fascinating for me and I enjoyed hearing him talk.
The play only runs until the 23rd of June, so catch it while you can.
I’m heading to another show in DC tonight . . .