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Proposing Something Brief and Beautiful

This weekend I had the pleasure of watching Proposals, a student directed show comprised of five proposal scenes from a variety of plays.

 

This event to me was a success. Along with a couple of amazing performances, the craft of the evening was conducive to an extremely pleasant audience experience.

 

William Ball in,  A Sense of Direction,  written in ­­­­­­1984 says that “in contemporary theatre two-act plays seem to be more popular than plays with three acts. Five-act plays are completely out of use.” I feel that nowadays the theatre is moving towards (and in my opinion should stay on) the 90 minute, no intermission. A one shot experience, where you come in, live with these people and this world and come out on the other side. None of this uncomfortable intermission talk: do you talk about the play? You’ve only seen half. Do you ignore the play and talk about how much you are looking forward to French fries after the show? That seems to be leaving an elephant in the room. It’s a weird moment of neither here nor there.

With a one shot experience, an audience can stay committed the entire time, the energy of the piece remains unbroken and attending doesn’t feel like it’s taking up your entire evening.

 

Proposals only ran 40 minutes and I was engaged throughout and left wanting more.

The five scenes were framed within the conceit that this man wanted to propose to his girlfriend but didn’t know how, so multiple proposals from theatre history were explored. The transitions in and out of the scenes, using three extra stage hands were quick, precise and always engaging, not to mention funny! Each actor played five different characters, changing dialects and mannerisms and genres with finesse. All my attention was on the stories being told and for that, I was able to root strongly for everyone to succeed.

 

With the home entertainment system that is one’s laptop and wifi connection, everything moves at a quicker pace. When I go back home to Jakarta and my extremely slow Internet connection, I feel cheated out of the ability to simply play youtube videos without having to leave them to load. I forgot that just a couple years ago this was the only form of internet I knew. I had moved on and hated having to return to the days of slow internet.

In my opinion entertainment should adjust itself to fit in with the audiences preferred mode of enjoyment or give them an alternative that is even better. But Laura! Theatre is art, not entertainment. Yes. Of course. But can’t it be both? If art isn’t for the audience, then why is it being done?

 

Every time I see a piece of theater I take all the things I liked and wanted to continue to put them into work that I do in the future. With this experience I’m taking away the power of short and precise as well as the reminder that when theater is enjoyable for the audience, and fits into their needs and wants at the time, it’s so much more pleasant. The theater can be such fun!

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