The Christians

by Lucas Hnath
directed by Timothy Bond
co-produced with Syracuse Stage
May 4, 2016May 29, 2016

From The Desk of Kate Tarker: BDSM OR COMMERCE: WHICH IS A BETTER MODEL FOR ART?

by Kate Tarker

Wednesday, May 4th

Dear Fellow Victorians,

Yesterday at Happy Laundromat, coming out of the rain and into a conversation with my beau, I was blasted by an extraordinary gust of lover’s fear. My hands were shaking. My heart was a drunken bee. I worked hard to appear: fine. To anyone not wielding the microscope of intimacy, I appeared: fine. But if you peered at my innards, you would know that in that little moment, I was a terrible opera.

Beware the enormity of love.

I did not understand my feeling. I went home and tried to “sit with it,” as they say, on the Great Advice Column that is The Internet. So I did nothing, for a very long while. I pressed my hand against my heart. I waited. I prayed. (To whom or what, I don’t know. That’s another matter.) I watched the light on the wall. Eventually, a tiny misunderstanding was unearthed. Eventually the feeling transformed. Eventually it passed back into the territory of pleasure. While I endured it, however, it felt relentless.

And I thought: I want to share that, that trial by ordeal, with an audience; I want to write a relentless scene that pulls you through a gathering storm, keeps going longer than you think you can take it, and then drops you off at the unexpected next stop, mirth.

In classical drama, we watch characters try to ply one another with rhetoric. We watch and sometimes forget – their real designs are on us, the quiet watchers.

The last time I was blasted by an attempted lover’s persuasion was watching a scene from Dominique Serrand’s Tartuffe, while the company was still in rehearsal. They rehearsed in the basement of the Children’s Theater Company of Minneapolis. In a cheerful room with tiny chairs and paper garlands, Tartuffe laid out, with tongue and touch, his sinister desires on Elmire, Orgon’s wife. The room was too small for that much treachery. I was among the only audience. I was intimately engaged. I wanted to reach out and stop them.  

There will be lovers in my play, I can promise you that.

Their arguments and actions will be, at times, uncomfortable. I want to torture you. This is art not commerce.

I want you to sit with the scene and your feelings until some small bough inside you breaks, until your hard-earned daily resistance collapses, until you pass through who you thought you were into a glorious field. Here, all your words are being washed clean in an effervescent brook. Here, all your feelings are hanging upside down among the clouds. Here is… love.

Why do I write?
To wake us both up.
I am often sleeping.

What is Pleasure?
Is it Serious?
Where Does It Belong In A Play?
How Long Can You Sit in Discomfort, In The Dark?

Check in next fortnight; let’s talk about democracy and tyranny.

Watteau, Pleasures of Love

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