By Jarek Pastor
Year of Revue came from a longing to reconnect with the spirit of play we ought to consistently engage with as theatremakers.
In this past year, the performing arts have taken up the task of grappling with what performance can be when we aren’t sharing physical space. There have been some lovely presentations in this time, and this is in no way meant to detract from that, but it is striking that most of what we’ve done in this time is seek to translate stageworks into a “language” they weren’t meant to be in. We’ve worked so hard to fit our stages onto screens, the liveliness of play often seemed put aside.
With that in mind, and a confirmation of Iowa New Play Festival on the horizon, I went back to the central question we’ve all been considering: what is theatre?
Well, theatre is What It Is. If you want it to be theatre, you shouldn’t polish it too much.
Let me explain: a stageplay doesn’t try to compensate for being on a stage. Beyond its (hopefully) enthralling presentation which draws you in, it doesn’t pretend to be a film or a book; it doesn’t “translate” itself.
It Is What It Is. It presents itself sincerely, making use of its limitations more often than it covers them up. A celebrated example: when that Angel finally crashes In to America, the wires that make such a feat possible are exposed.
And in simply being itself, it exists as it is in each fleeting moment of performance, even when it morphs from one night to the next.
This is getting a bit long; I’ll finish:
With all I’ve written above in mind, I gathered a group of theatremakers I’ve worked with before and asked them to get in on this. We did away with any desire to develop something to be used in the future. We did away with trying to compensate for or obscure the fact we’re showing up on your screen through some computer program. By prioritizing the barely-wrought, the imperfect, the sincere, we came together and made this Year of Revue with the same sense of children engaged in a game of imagination: enthralled and willing to leave it behind when our time’s up.
And now we present it to you: unpolished and just for this moment.