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The Tyranny of Autocorrect

“This [blog] is the place where you and the theatre and the world intersect.”

–Ilana Brownstein

Right now, I have no idea what that place sounds like.

After drafting exactly 1 extremely academic blog post and spending approximately 6 hours wondering if I was doing it “right,” I realized that I have no voice!

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. I have a voice in the physical sense of the word, and I have thoughts and feelings about art swirling around up in my brain, but as soon as I start writing, autocorrect kicks in.

Up until this very minute, every word I have ever written about the theatre has been obsessively planned and pressurized by my preoccupancy with the effects of language. I have adopted “The Voice of The English Major” because up until now, language is the only place where I thought I had any business intersecting with theatre and the world.

My challenge this semester as an aspiring theatre artist is to embrace the notion of engaging with theatre outside the form of an argumentative essay. To embrace the way my thoughts are structured instead of the way a thesis is structured. To write in incomplete sentences. To fight the urge to correct everything that has a squiggly line planted underneath it (like the previous sentence that is not actually a sentence and is only a phrase…okay, letting it go now…)

Ironically, I realized this week that one of my biggest frustrations in theatre artists (myself included) is an occasional tendency to approach others’ work with an autocorrective mindset. In one of my other courses we are studying Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. After watching segments of a filmed performance of A Doll’s House at the Young Vic, there was plenty to discuss.

Several directorial and design choices conflicted with the ways in which we had previously discussed Ibsen’s text. However, instead of meeting the Young Vic production where it was, the critical attitude of the group was to express discontentment with the ways in which the production differed from our expectation. There was so much frustration in the room about how the characters “should” have been played and how the set “should” have looked, that our discussion spiraled into a list of all the things to be “fixed” rather than trying to understand why those choices had been made.

In the final moment of the Young Vic production, we see Nora exit the house. She gives a final glance at the stairwell she has just descended before walking out the front door. In Ibsen’s original text, all he specifies is the sound of the door closing and the image of Torvald alone in the house. The general consensus among my peers? Outrage! We “should” not be able to see Nora reflecting on all she is leaving behind! The glance weakens Nora’s decision!

Actually, I found the choice to be powerful in its reality. I thought the final glace emphasized just how big of a deal it is that Nora is walking away from her family and her entire sense of normalcy. Her moment of reflection made me believe that Nora’s exit is rooted in a full understanding of the threshold she is crossing.

Shock of the century: I didn’t raise my hand to share that opinion with the class. Instead, I took notes about why I “should” have felt outraged with such a ludicrous choice. I immediately applied autocorrect to my own intuition because I seemed to be the only one with such an opinion.

Perhaps there is a voice in there somewhere, and my real goal should be to stop telling it to shut up.

 

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“…but now I gotta find my own!”

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