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Brian Dykstra and the Theatre of Necessity

“WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS IN THE THEATRE!”

I’ve heard this from a majority of my professors at Boston University, and it’s an incredibly practical statement when dealing with bullshit within an ensemble.

Whether it’s an argument, a meltdown, or an unnecessary tangent taken way too far, all it takes is for one person to say, “WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS IN THE THEATRE!” And most people will move on to the task at hand.

This is why, among many reasons, that I am so frustrated with my government. As the shutdown continues into its second week, I’ve found myself asking the question “Do we have time for this?”

If we don’t have time to bitch at eat other in the theatre, how can the federal government get away with shutting down until further notice?

Luckily, theatre artists are constantly questioning the decisions of our largely ineffective ensemble up on Capitol Hill. 

Like Brian Dykstra, for example.

The day I stumbled upon the work of Brian Dykstra, my relationship with the theatre changed completely.  Brian, you see, is the artist reminding his government, and in essence, his country, that “WE DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS.”

Whether its social commentary or anti-war rhetoric, Brian is one of the few playwright/performers I’ve encountered who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.  Whether it’s a monologue or a slam poem, Dykstra makes his material as topical as possible and doesn’t hold anything back.  Here’s a video of a poem he wrote called “Just Say No.”

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The reason his performance-style hits me so hard is because he portrays himself as a frustrated, tired American—which he is, but he has a way of bearing the weight of our country’s problems on his shoulders just so his audience can see, if only for a moment, the effect that all of this bullshit has on us personally. 

Because it’s so easy to forget, you know?  It’s so easy, and I’m certainly guilty of it, to distract myself from what’s really going on.  I can play a game on my smart phone or focus all my energy on securing my offensive line for my fantasy football team (which, by the way, has to be one of the most meaningless developments of the past decade).  Brian doesn’t let us forget.  He screams in your ear until your wake up from your cyber stupor and yell “I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!” 

 

Every day when I walk to campus, I’m forced to walk through a sea of protesters outside of a local Planned Parenthood.  It’s become such a staple of my morning commute that I don’t even notice anymore, a feat I’ve accomplished by turning the volume of my earphones up as soon as I pass by.  But—it’s a terrifying environment.  Earlier this week I didn’t have my headphones, and I saw a group of protestors yelling at a young couple on their way into the building.  It was so disgusting and uncalled for, and nobody, including myself, said anything in defense of the young couple.  Brian Dykstra, of course, has a word or two for people who take time out of their day to yell hateful obscenities at innocent people, and here’s a few of them.

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In a world where are constantly distracting ourselves from what lies beyond the safety net of our small, bright, LCD screens, Brian Dykstra pledges to remind us that we’re wasting our time.  He tells us to take action, because we’re destroying ourselves if we don’t.

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