Monday Morning Musings:
“Great art evokes a response. . .emotion.”
Bruce Graham, The Craftsman
“We have a story we want to tell you about a play — a play that changed my life. Every night, we tell this story. But somehow I can never remember the end.”
–Lemml, at the beginning of Indecent by Paula Vogel
“Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin. . .dance me to the end of love.”
–Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me to the End of Love”
The day began with a stunning sunrise
a prize or disguise
for what would come later?
We walk through city streets
listen to the beats
the syncopation of traffic and conversations
the announcements from underground stations,
look at the buildings and public art
take heart that the rain has not yet started.
I notice a clock, a reminder to go inside,
another world unfurls.
At the back of stage
projections of artwork by Vermeerover them we suddenly hear
guns or bombs and the paintings disappear
overlaid with black
then from the back
a man appears to give a speech
he is the head of the provisional government,
the Nazis are gone
the dawn of a new time
but justice must be done.
The play is about a forger, a con man
who longs to be an artist, and when he can—
he also gets revenge upon the man, the critic
the con man’s a cynic
his wife, perhaps anti-Semitic
later she says she should have spoken out
without a doubt
a line that is relevant today
as is much of the play
which explores art, creativity, ability
and should an “expert’s” opinion hold dominion
What is it worth, what is fake and what is real?
what will you pay to seal a deal?
I’m reminded of a man, an emperor with no clothes,
(as everyone knows)
because he could never admit that he was taken
for a fool
(He is mistaken.)
The play is partly a courtroom drama
set in a particular time and place
the space converted
with a clever set and lighting
inviting us to see the different scenes—
office, jail cell, and courtroom.
there are flashbacks to the past,
and an excellent cast.
The setting is important–
the Netherlands had been occupied
those in the Resistance tried to defy
with some success, but also retaliation
leading to the Hunger Winter
and more lives splintered.
What should happen to those collaborate?
The play explores how we express hate
“revenge has become a spectator sport,”
do we resort then to the level of the oppressors?
We walk and talk
See a house with sunflowers
Walking now a bit in showers
discuss the play over wine, beer, and cheese
then out into the night
see rain reflecting off city lights
prance and dance
tap a beat onto the street.
Over homemade pizza and wine again
Cozy inside from wind and rain
we watch a play on TV,
another story based on events that were real,
and we feel,
we definitely feel—
this play within a play
to Klezmer music, the actors dance
and ashes fall from their coats and pants
they dance to the end of love
and perhaps they dance then back again,
there is a scene in the original play,
written in 1907, God of Vengeance
by Sholem Asch
the scene, referred to as “the rain dance”
involves two women, lovers—
the play is about the history of that play
performed successfully in Yiddish in Europe,
then the cast was arrested on obscenity charges
when it was translated into English and performed in the U.S.
(not a success),
the play is performed in the Lodz ghetto, in an attic room,
though all there know, they are probably doomed.
The play is about a culture lost
to time, to the Holocaust,
but it is about past and present
and how art matters
even when people are battered, shattered
their life in tatters,
and though some only value art for its monetary worth
the true value is in what it brings forth
in emotion and feeling
art sends those who value it reeling–
makes us think and want to dance in the rain
again and again
makes us laugh, or cry
makes us sigh and want to defy
Does it change our lives?
Yes, this I know,
art does, and helps us grow.
We saw Indecent on PBS’ Great Performances. You may still be able to see in online.