Jan. 15th, 2009

fictional: (star wars)
Wow. Step away from the internets to go see a play... and BOOM. It's all runes and nazis and what??? Yeah. I'll try not to be away so long next time. =D

In other news, the play: Architecting by The TEAM. [livejournal.com profile] faris_nallaneen and I deeply enjoyed it, with one caveat. First of all, it was crazy in a worlds-collide-y sort of way. I read & post about race and fiction, and then go to see a play... about (among other things) race and fiction. And America and fiction, which in some ways, is the same thing. But mainly it was about so many of the questions I (and [livejournal.com profile] rm, which is one of the reasons we write together) have; the obsessions that are always somehow at the heart of my fictional explorations. How one can be enchanted and revolted by something at the same time. The task of an author is to believe in contradictory facts, all of which are true. Being in love with a society that is both beautiful and wrong, and lost the war, and grieving for that loss anyway. Loving something at its end rather than at the beginning -- the sunset, instead of the sunrise, autumn rather than spring. (I'm never up early enough to see the sunrise anyway, and I love the fall. All metaphors intentional.) Burning things down in a glorious conflagration rather than having them stolen from you in increments of lost dignity and fake-ness.

"Do you miss your [dead] father?" the play asks.


"Was he a good man?"


"Would you miss him, even if he wasn't?"

And there is silence.

And so you have the American South - Atlanta, and New Orleans and Arkansas, and all its farce and tragedy and ridiculous splendour, and its chequered past - the Confederacy, and I thought of reading Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, and being enchanted and revolted and then watching Joss Whedon's Firefly, which is like the Confederacy, without that pesky slave issue1 -- and thinking, oh how nice, but you can't just TAKE THAT PART OUT, can you?

Which brings me to my caveat. It was a play about race and fiction and the American South. And I was engaged and interested and admiring except THERE WERE NO BLACK ACTORS. Not one. There was a black character though, and he was played by a white guy.

Um, what??? It was like a visual aid to [livejournal.com profile] deepad's post, about voices being appropriated and removed entirely from the discourse. I was so distracted by it, and really fucking disturbed.

We had several theories for why this might be the case:

1) (in my opinion the most disturbing) They think that white is race-neutral, and so thought casting poc's as any of the parts would distract from the language-specific discussion of race.
2) (in E's opinion the most disturbing) They had no intentionality, and just didn't think about it as an issue.
3) None of the TEAM (who collaboratively write and perform their shows) are black, so they didn't think it would be troubling. (But it really, really was.)

The sad thing is that aside from this, and the length (it dragged a bit with an inexplicable dance number towards the end), it was stunning. And (especially) for something written collaboratively by performers, its language was complex and erudite and interesting. It ended with this line, which was the subjectline of this post: when spirits give up their ghosts and put on flesh.

And I thought of stories and entrances and imaginary worlds. How we call them to us. How they become real. Even if they're not true.

Then I came home, and discovered that Ricardo Montalban has died. Khaaaaaaan!! That's another shout of my childhood there... and a Mexican playing an Indian who is one of the greatest villains of all time. Those ear bug things! *shivers*

All those worlds. All those stories. Flesh.

1But with a billion more Invisible Asians. Oh Joss, I love you anyway.


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