Monday, April 11, 2011

Live Theatre: Controlled Chaos

Pine Forest Theatre Troupe performs "Still Life with Iris"
  On Friday night I went to see my son's 8th grade performance of "Still Life with Iris" at Pine Forest School.  The cast consisted entirely of his classmates, and it was creatively cobbled together with costumes made in their handwork section and props from their woodworking class.

  "Still Life with Iris" written by Steven Dietz, is a sweet, magical tale about how memories, both good and bad, shape us and make us who we are.  The cast is made up of essential blue-collar workers such as the the Day Breaker (who ropes in the moon every morning), the Thunder Maker (who bottles thunder for use in a rainstorm), and the Memory Mender, who sews up everyone's "past coat" that contains all their memories. 

  Isaac played the Flower Painter.  His job consisted of, you guessed it, painting the flowers.  I was proud of him, and he was proud of himself.  "Mom, I didn't hesitate at all when I said my lines!"

  In a strange twist of fate, Isaac and I had seen NAU Theatre's production of "Still Life" four years ago. It was one of the first theatre performances he had seen, and since my colleague was directing the show, I got to take Isaac and his friend backstage to meet the actors.  I still remember how terribly he blushed when he got to meet Annabel Lee, his favorite character.  And ever since then, he's been pretty spellbound.  The actors love him--he is always the loudest laugher and the most appreciative of their physical humor. 

  I love film, and I can appreciate good television, but for one reason I think live theatre is almost better than screen-viewing--the actors can respond to your enthusiasm, laughter, and applause.You feel like you're involved in their performance.  I think that makes us more engaged in the story, more likely to take something away.

  There was a scene in "Still Life" where one character was putting on his "past coat" and he couldn't find his sleeve.  He played off the "mistake" so well and my friend Rachel and I found it so amusing and charming that our laughter had us crying.  You just don't get inadvertent comedy like that from a static screen.  Live theatre is precious and magical because you get a sense of controlled chaos.  It is super intoxicating and exciting.

  If you like live theatre too, and you missed my son's performance of Still Life with Iris, you're in luck. NAU Theatre is showing "Servant of Two Masters" a great Commedia dell'arte performance with lots of physical humor.  The show runs April 15-23 at the Studio Theatre. 


  1. I was Annabel Lee in NAU's production! Its so wonderful to hear that your son is getting the chance to participate in theatre himself :)

  2. Yes! We remember you!! Do you recall a redhead and his friend meeting you backstage? He was very red-faced.
    It was a fantastic production. Thanks so much.