The Will to Life – and Art Jan 15, 2016

by Sean Ryan

If, one day, the people wills to live
Then fate must obey
Darkness must dissipate
And must the chain give way
And he who is not embraced by life’s longing
Evaporates into its air and fades away
Woe to one whom life does not rip
from the slap of victorious nothingness
Thus told me the beings
And thus spoke their hidden spirit.
 Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabbi

The Life Model speaks to becoming, belonging and believing. It addresses the artist and their relation to community, friends, lovers, politics, consumerism, country even identity. It challenges the perception of what is an effective experience in creating art that is truthful– being directly connected and in the muck of something unique, new, revolutionary or being a tourist, a witness, a bystander, able to capture safely from a far. Which experience makes greater art? Will it serve us, save us, hurt us, kill us? All things that we must take into account. And who do we do it for, this act of participation? For ourselves? For Art? For Country? And why? I commend all the writers in the work that brought out a story that is personal, political and human. You show us the importance of action; and the banality of complacency. Thank you.

I appreciate the layers of story and image that were revealed throughout the piece. There were moments that were striking – pertaining to how moments of gesture, tableaux, and physical movement were given equal presence alongside the realism of events. I do have to give a shout out to Fracé’s geometric gesture sequence – truly a gift of an event that made the hairs stand up. I only wish these hints of the expressive were more prevalent throughout to breakup our linear expectation of the realism. It is good to want more.

The video work by Zeina Barakeh is completely extraordinary. It added so much to the emotional and visceral world of the play, it would be interesting to see how the video could become more 3 dimensional in the world begging the question where is this world – in the art or in real life? 

Overall, I am thankful to On the Boards, to Jeffrey Fracé, and to the artists involved for supporting and spearheading this work of devised theater. The project connects voices, stories, cultures, and artists that are not generally heard or experienced in Seattle. The artists are phenomenal and the story is well-timed.

It is inspiring.

It is human.

It is relevant.