August 11th, 2014, “American Moor” plays to a full house at Luna Stage
Of all three public performances of this new, developing play to date, this one, Monday night, the 11th of August, was the most energized, the best performed, the tightest textually, and the most satisfying evening of theatre that I, as the performer have had for some time. Luna Stage is a 98 seat “black box” theatre space. The seats were filled with a diverse audience, a combination of Luna’s regular patron base, some friends and colleagues of mine, and a number of people having come from as far away as DC, Massachusetts, and Missouri, to lend their minds and voices to the growth of this work, and all for one evening in the dead of summer, the toughest time to get people to come out and support theatre.
What I have found about these one-night-only presentations of “Moor” is that there can be no real relaxing into the work. There is the one opportunity to put it on its feet, have people watch, listen, and comment, then nothing until the next time you get a space to mount it, and an audience to watch it. In that circumstance, nerves are high, the space is unfamiliar, things are happening for the first time, that haven’t happened anywhere else. This can lend itself to what people like to call “the magic of theatre,” or create utter amateur hour… The entire creative process is stilted at best. As those sorts of things go, this was a fairly strong showing. At least I thought so, and the audience responses seemed to back up my perception.
This play is trying to speak to several very complex issues that haunt our culture in a very short space of time. It frustrates me to attempt to do so, and I think it frustrates the audience as well. It is a lot to hear and consider, and one tendency seems to be to say to the play, “That just ain’t so… It’s not like that. It’s like something else.” As we ventured into the “talk-back” segment of the evening, I felt the agitation that this play causes in the bodies of people. This, I felt, is a good thing. If it were not rattling people into thought, and reaction, there would be cause for worry. But people are outspoken and vehement in their reactions to this piece, and I’m guessing, for all my creative frustration, that I’ve done something right… something…
The discussion was long, and we spoke to many uncomfortable aspects of the play. The play is about the discussion that never gets had. I’m encouraged that it seems to want to happen in the moments following the curtain call. People have had their emotions stirred, and are all wanting to express, “This is what I feel!” We asked them to please feel free to express it. They did not disappoint us. We spoke like a group of people, diverse in background and experience, all trying to understand the same thing; to find a point of balance. In that respect, I think the play did what it was supposed to. American theatre did what it’s supposed to.
Then… We stood on the stage and talked, one to one, face to face, until it was late. Many did. I suspect that means there was something worth staying late and talking about…
I’m grateful to Luna Stage Company, and all who came out to make this evening with me. I knew there was a reason to be doin’ this shit.