This weekend I was fortunate enough to see Revolt. She Said. Revolt. at Company One. I am so excited to see a company whose mission is “to change the face of Boston theatre by uniting the city’s diverse communities through innovative, socially provocative performance and developing civically engaged artists.”
I was struck by how strange and wonderful the text is. I want to get my hands on it. I was also struck by the way the audience leaned in and embraced the play (even when it seemed that none of us knew what was going on). It was inspiring to see older, white-haired folks laugh and cheer. This is the kind of audience I want to make plays for.
On the survey (there is one brilliantly placed on every single seat) I was asked questions that made me think about the performance and how I will take the experience with me. I felt like this place cared about me and about my opinion.
This show is worth seeing. If you see it, I want to talk about the experience with you.
The play left me with a lot of questions! I am very excited by them. Some questions are prompted by opinions but as an exercise I am going to leave my opinions out of it and I am just going to ask as many questions as I can. It seems that this is the best conversation to have with this piece and with this company.
- Why was there a man in the production? Should the play be done without any men? Was the intention to give the male experience a voice? Does having a single man on stage make him special, unique? Is this magnified when he is “white masculine and handsome”? What if there were no men in the production? What if the woman played the men?
- Does the text delineate sections or scene changes? Most of the scene changes were underscored by Lemonade by Beyoncé: how is this piece in conversation with the album? Did the songs correspond with the way that the director, dramaturge and creation team saw each of the scenes? What was the clapping connected to? Was it some kind of code?
3. Where were we? Was the space some kind of void? Why couldn’t we see into the house upstage of the wall? Was it a house? What was in it? What did it represent? Were the pieces that the actors used pieces of a dismantled house? Why did they go back once they were taken out? What was hiding in the house? What were the actors doing in the house when I couldn’t see them? Were they changing their clothes? Why was it so hard to see into that house? Why am I still calling it a house? Was sitting just to the left of the center section why I have so many questions about this upstage space? Did I just make a bad seating choice? Should that make a difference?
4. Does Company One always perform in that space? Does it always feel like a gladiator pit? Was the intention to put us so much higher than the people on stage? Are all of the theaters in Boston like this? Does putting us higher up than the actors make us feel better than them? Does it give us power over them? Does the shape of the space turn all plays into gladiator plays? Would it have served Revolt. She Said. Revolt. to play into this image of a gladiator pit?
- Why were the actors in “nude” clothing as their base? Why weren’t they naked? Why weren’t we forced to look at their beautiful naked bodies?
- Why wasn’t there more blood? What if the stage were covered in blood by the end? And vomit? Why did they have just a little bit of vomit? Do I want to see more vomit because I want to throw up when I think about the way we treat women in this country (all over the world)? What if they chopped that man up at the end?
- Who was the voice at the end? Was it the voice inside all of us that pushes us too far? Was it the audience? What if they listened to it??
- Who was the audience? Were we spectators in a gladiator match? Were we a jury? Was the hope of the production to change our minds? What if we were challenged to go kill all of the men at the end of the play? What if we were empowered to wipe men off of the face of the earth?
- Why wasn’t the play angrier and more radical? Why do I want the play to be more radical? Why wasn’t the play more frenetic and louder? Why do I want this out of this play?
- Are there other theater companies in Boston making plays that ask tons questions? Are there companies that take huge risks? Are there more radical, more experimental places to see theater here? If not, why not? Who are the Boston audiences? What do they want to see? Why do they go to the theater?