Monday, July 16, 2012

Living a Metaphor

by Aaron Loeb
Aaron Loeb
Playwright, Ideation 

This is an absolutely true story.

At the Playwrights Foundation BAPF retreat with my director, dramaturg and designer we decide to go for a walk and discuss the play.

The play is a twisty little set of passages. The management consultants it centers around have just gotten back to the office from Crete. They’ve left one labyrinth for another.

Most of my energy around the play (lately) has been focused on the ending. Does this ending work? What shadow does it cast on the previous 100 minutes of theater you’ve just seen? Lots of tinkering.

The previous ending was insanely oblique. Characters saying one thing, meaning another, doing so in a “I’m saying something that doesn’t mean what it sounds like” voice. No one could follow it. And those who could felt it cast a weak shadow.

So, here we are, wandering in the wilderness talking about this play. We climb to the top of an amazing hill and look out across the East Bay. Mount Diablo staring at us across the valley, the works of man looking insignificant and tiny below us. And there, literally at the apex, we figure out the right ending! It’s brilliant! A leads to B leads to C. All I have to do now is construct it. Yay!

Okay, time to get off the mountain. We wander back into the wilderness and then, uh oh… we’re lost. Completely and totally lost. We’re surrounded by trees, the path is leading us god knows where. And we realize something won’t work about the perfect new ending. What about this?!

We blame our director, Josh Costello. He was the one who said turn left and we all turned left, as you’re supposed to do. We are, after all, dutiful theater people and Herr Direktor said turn left!

But, of course, our theatrical plight is entirely on me. We wrestle with the problem some more, meanwhile trying to remember if you can get drinkable water from a tree root. I look at Laura Hope, our Dramaturg, and for a moment she turns into a tofu cutlet… I’m so hungry.

And then we figure it out again. A leads to B(sub1) leads to C(sub1)! It will work! And we emerge from the woods into the light! In someone’s back yard, nowhere near where we started.

Herr Direktor takes over. He finds a native guide – a nice person in an SUV – and he gets us directions to get back to the retreat center. He then leads us on a march – a very difficult march over a mile of arduous paved roads – to get us home (and to dinner).

This all happened. We were living a metaphor. Theater is rad.

For tickets and more information on Ideation: Click Here

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