SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12
Our final TalkBack of this year’s Dublin Tour opened with a discussion of two traditions in theatre first set forth analytically by Plato more than 2,000 years ago — Mimesis and Diegesis. Mimesis roughly means imitation of nature and it is the tradition we are most accustomed to — actors imitating the actions of human beings. Diegesis refers to the narrative tradition — anyone who saw our CTC production of AN ILIAD this summer will be familiar with a fine example of this tradition.
Richard Maxwell’s NEUTRAL HERO is an example of radical diegesis. Maxwell, the writer and director of the piece, is a mainstay of high profile international experimental theatre festivals and his goal is strip his works of the mimetic. NEUTRAL HERO, which both The New York Times and The New Yorker placed on their Best of 2012 lists, is a fine example of his work. The stated goal of the piece is to discover the mythic element in everyday, ordinary lives.
A company of performers (not professional actors) present an uninflected delivery of a very poetic text while employing a minimalist approach to stage movement. The process is very formal, evoking ritual. The pacing is unhurried, there is atmospheric use of music accompaniment and song. An aura of mystery attaches to the proceedings and ultimately, one might grasp the personal odyssey of our neutral hero on his journey to locate and reunite with his father.
The production couldn’t have provided a greater contrast to the frantic and often (unintentionally) unfocused effort evidenced by Rough Magic in THE CRITIC. Maxwell’s minimalist approach gave each movement, each stage event a sense of moment, of import. This is not to say that Maxwell’s work is easy to assimilate or even accept — it runs so counter to the aesthetic and practice we are used to that it leaves many people pretty cold. But, it is easy to see why the DTF Artistic Director Willie White included it in his international festival of plays. It also provided us with some very rich TalkBack material.
After the TalkBack, Saturday is an open day. Some of us took excursions up to the beautiful Wicklow mountains. Others went to The Grange, a 5,000 year old archaeological site, or Tara, home to the ancient Irish kings. Still others stayed in Dublin and went to other Festival offerings or caught up with last minute shopping for family and friends. One group went to Chapter One, widely considered Dublin’s finest restaurant, to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary!
Whatever one’s destination or activity, we all gathered for one last time in the closing hours of Saturday to settle into the cozy armchairs of the Gresham lounge for a “jar” and a “gab”. Memories of the week were shared, email addresses were exchanged, plans were made… And so, another CTC theatre tour adventure came to a close as the midnight bell crept up upon us.