Reflections on last year was pretty sh*tty Nov 23, 2015

by Tina LaPadula

Begin with a brusque cinematic exposé of the male lead. Make it uncomfortably up close and personal. Zoom in on his apartment, his family, his drug use, his genitals. Invite a strong female director to make it. To make demands. I mean really order him around. Objectify him.

Let this set the stage. Now that the audience is hip to the sad nitty gritty on this guy, we can start the live performance.

There’s a male protagonist, and an older male character. Both men sift through photographs, cutting them up and taping them together. Both utilize reel to reel audio tape machines. There’s a female character too. Her movements are halting and herky jerky. The protagonist leads her like a puppet. There is a relationship here. She reaches for him but he remains somehow unattainable. He keeps her at arms length. A tactile movement sequence on astroturf shows her appearing frustrated, repetitive and stuck. He is the main character, the hero. He has the power and she appears unable to physically alter the dynamics.

Conversation in the lobby: So who is the older man? “Perhaps he’s Prospero”; says my husband. “Perhaps he’s Homer”; says Yonnas. I believe he’s an older version of the protagonist reflecting back on his former self. Taking stock of his past or revising his story. Who is the woman? A muse? A former lover faintly remembered?

Post-show discussion: And what is the connection of the opening film to the performance? The men speak. They admit to being surprised by the content of the film. They admitted not knowing what to do with it. They seem angry or hurt by it. They distance themselves from it. Keeping it at arms length. Yet, there was the film, front and center. A strong female perspective framing the way we see the male lead (or the actor playing the lead).

Consider the opening film a feminist gift to the piece. Offering a layer of much needed complexity that flips the script on what could have been just another male dominated narrative. I’m amazed they included it given their vocal reticence, and I’m grateful that they did.