at today’s chat, Mark, Erin and Kristan discussed some logistics and philosophies behind and within this year’s festival. people, i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, if you want to take as much away from the festival as possible, GO TO THE NOONTIME CHATS!!!! you see the synapses connecting within and between the artists’ brains for their next project. you learn what to watch for today to trip you out tomorrow when you think about yesterday. you learn to live, eat, and breathe TBA, so that you can keep it with you all year long – and seriously, ESPECIALLY during an election year, you just might need those memories in the cold sad dead days of November…
anyway, back to today – so the overarching theme that i’m picking up on from the chat and from my own first impressions of the festival is basically the tension between the clean beauty of the ideal and the messy complicated truth of reality. it’s in the clean white of blank placard happening and in the manipulations of domesticity and consumerism in the ON SIGHT galleries, the tension is completely subverted in the YES MEN, and in this vein, Sojourn Theatre’s “BUILT” leaves you realizing just how hard it is to actually think outside yourself when re-imagining your hometown.
in the performances and the participatory parts of BUILT, the audience is asked to question their idea of citizenship in terms of urban planning. of course the brilliance of Sojourn is that they never give you any answers, only leave you with more questions, but today i still left with a definitively disappointed feeling. while i think everyone had an eye-opening experience about place and community, no one talked about the hard parts, the messy parts of dealing with the real problems of a city. when people planned their utopias, they wanted art galleries, old growth trees, bicycle paths, food co-ops. in a poll of what you would rather have closer to your house, prison beat walmart. sure, we’re all liberals here, but what about the volunteer action center? the soup kitchen? it’s great to have a library in park blocks, but what about a place to teach the growing number of illiterate children how to read? i really felt like Sojourn was testing us, saying, “yeah, you all talk the talk, but can you walk the walk” like they basically do so superbly in every piece.
- laura becker