I am writing this from CapeTown, South Africa early on Monday morning, but still thinking about something that happened Saturday evening in Atlanta. Technically, that qualifies for “last night” because off the time zone shift. Lauren’s new play, “Exit, pursued by a bear,” opened at Synchronisity Theater. I shifted time zones, but Lauren managed to shift a whole audience through seven mind-zones.
First and most obvious: you need to go see this thing. You can’t describe a play any more than you can describe a song. It’s art; you gotta be there.
I saw it being read by a group of actors sitting in folding chairs in a bright room when it was under development at Emory a few months ago. And even at that stage it was mesmerizingly smart and sharp. The play weaves around the story of Nan Carter, a woman in a bad North Georgia marriage trying to get out with the help of some friends who are nearly equally trapped in their lives. Nan quotes Jimmy Carter a lot (who she wishes had been her dad). The structure of the play– a tragic comedy–is borrowed from Shakespeare, but she managed to get the Discovery Channel in there, and more than you’d think you’d want to know about…bears.
I suppose that all art matters. But art with words performed by human beings in the presence of other attentive human beings really, really matters.It help us see through the clutter, weirdness and wildness of life to find our way. I was in Nashville Thursday, Kansas Saturday and Cape Town today, in each place talking with people who really care about our very weird world. I can tell you that people at least over that 9,000 miles of the globe have a pretty good grip on a LOT of facts. But facts need a narrative, and narratives need a heart for the world.
Art helps science find the narrative of life. And, of course, science keeps story tethered to reality. “Exit, pursued by a bear” is an artistic stage direction from Shakespeare. Clever. But the plot turns on the scientific fact that Nan knew something about bears that her husband did not.
Facts matter. It matters that our planet can’t work with more than 350 participles per million of carbon in the air. We have to know that fact so that we can be appropriately afraid that we’re already over that number. We should be afraid of that, instead of the goofy fears about Muslims nurtured even in the heartland of Kansas. But facts and fear do not lead us out of our quandary or into the world we hope for. Only a true story–truer than our current facts–can do that. Art matters.
Makes me think the world has a shot. Thanks, Lauren.
Full Run: March 3 – 27, 2011
Thursday thru Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
Venue: 7 Stages Mainstage Theatre, 1105 Euclid Ave. N.E. in Little Five Points.
– Posted on the journey