Over the weekend I was given the opportunity to attend the play “Equivocation”, by Bill Cain. It was performed by the Athens West Theatre Company at the Downtown Arts Centre in Lexington KY. A wonderful play, and I highly suggest watching it if the opportunity presents itself. To sum the plot in a few words, the play entertains the idea of what would happen if the King had comissioned William Shakespere to write a propaganda play about the gunpowder plot.
For me, the experience was almost paramount in my exposure to theatre. Throughout my life, I have always displayed a certain aversion to theatre as acted out in person. Perhaps it was as a result of the plays I was forced to act out in my childhood: which were entirely underwhelming. For much of my life, I much prefered the art of cinema, as I believed that it could always convey a superiour vision of a story as acted out by individuals: the principal reason for which being the ability to edit, frame and various other abilities that ensure a higher quality product in the right hands. In all honesty, I probably still hold this to be true in the pure sense of conveying a story.
However seeing this play gave theatre a new worth. True, cinema will probably always be more acute way of telling a story, but the experience itself is entirely different, and cannot be replicated in film. My naïveté and close mindedness as a child kept me from understanding this. The roots of this may also be in that I was never exposed to anything I would truly enjoy—that which was too risqué was restricted by my parents, forcing me to result to the internet and consequently limiting my exposure. All I ever saw was Shakespere, and musicals. Works that I could not understand, or found irritating. Still, even the play “Terrorism”, as performed by the Balagula Theatre in the same location was underwhelming to me at the age of 13 (although the subject matter was quite interesting).
Why I found this play so captivating then is a combination of factors. The inteligibility, excellent script and actors were all prime reasons it was more enjoyable than past experiences. My generally more mature viewpoint also helped, but what I found most enthralling was the atmosphere.
If I were to describe it in one word, it would be ephemeral. There was an intangible beauty in the realisation that all that was happening before my eyes could only happen in that moment. The material factor was equally important: having material people acting within a few metres of myself was enthralling and genuine. Producing a feeling of truly being connected with the actors themselves, rather than seeing them through a screen. The theatre was quite small: seating maybe only 75 people maximum, this too I felt made everything more personal and almost as if I was given access to something secret and special.
It’s hard to put the feeling I felt into words or to explain it, but I came out of the play feeling as if I had made some revelation. The irony of the entire experience being that the subject of the play was the playwright which I have historically viewed with extreme disinterest. It’s a shame that I will soon be leaving Lexington, and be unable to see much of what Athens West wil be playing next.
Now I just feel like re-visiting terrorism, I ordered the play, and I hope I’ll be able to take more away from it than I originally did.
This is the first blog post I’ve ever writen, so I hope it was at least somewhat interesting.
The image pictured is of the playbill, all rights go to the respective creator.