Tuesday, October 29, 2013

After Dark, October 29, 2013

Shaken AND Stirred
Great art makes you remember great art
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I had the great good fortune this week of having one of those moments that we all seek - usually through drugs, weird sex, rich food (name a vice). Those of us who appreciate art are lucky to have those kinds of moments from art. They are rare indeed.

It is an intake of breath. It is finding yourself prayerful. (Oh! My God! Oh! My God! or, for the anti-theists, Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!) It is having something stick with you for long after it is no longer before you. Indeed, it is to have something invade your dreams and - years after - be vividly remembered. It's not just something very good - it's something perfect which also comes along at the right time in the life of the individual.

It got me to counting those moments in my 56 years and I'd like to share the four of them. (Please share yours in the comments section below!)

Woyzeck - the play at Centaur Theatre, the opera (Wozzeck) at TNM. I was an acting school student for the former and would not shut up about it and even finagled free tickets for my fellow students and went again. It was a Felix Mirbt/Jean Herbiet production - another which used large puppets and costumed puppeteers in full view and a group of readers, also costumed and in full view. I am still parsing the levels of meaning revealed by it. Decades later, I saw a production of the opera, adapted to chamber proportions and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Here, the stripped-down production made evident the genius of the composer, Alban Berg, and the horror of Büchner's text. Anyone who doesn't feel the hair on the back of their neck rise up when a children's chorus teases the orphan of the primary characters has ice-water in their veins. (At intermission I actually sighed and the lady next to me - as eager to share as I - chirped to me, "It's good, isn't it!") 

I was at the opening night of Serge Boucher's Motel Hélène at Espace Go. This play, about a working class couple who cannot properly communicate their shared grief, was harrowing. In one graphic, awful scene, the couple (played with aching correctness by Maude Guérin and François Papineau) literally try to fuck their grief away. It crystallized those instances in all our lives where we simply do not have the words. By play's end, I was sobbing.

I went to Europe when I was 24, and was at the Vatican almost exclusively to see Michaelangelo's sculpture, the Pietà. Seeing his works is almost always a spiritual experience. As I walked into the church the statue was revealed slowly but before I had my own moment I saw a woman who was automatically raising her camera for a snap suddenly SEE the piece. She stopped, lowered her camera and just went into a kind of reverie. Audiences know that feeling. It is, again, a shared moment of...eternity, its impact multiplied with the sharing.

So what was the thing, this week? I would be a bastard if I said more than it was the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad's second season. If you have not yet watched the series - which I hadn't until it was done - treat yourself. That moment in Breaking Bad - after you, too, get over the reverie - has you wanting to share (I hit Facebook hard) or applaud (in a theatre) or hold a loved one.

I wonder, sometimes, why so many artists settle for working towards less than providing those moments. Those moments ruin you for uni-dimensional comedies (in passing, Breaking Bad is so often a very, very dark comedy). They also separate craftspeople from artists. 

Those moments are, finally, the crack of thinking people...more: they're miraculous seconds which join intellect and emotion (or soul/spirit). They are also those seconds, hidden in years of awfulness, which make us all proud to be human.

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