In Vino Veritas

By Rick Curtiss, Dramaturg

trav·es·ty  /ˈtravəstē/

  1. a false, absurd, or distorted representation of something.

As the dramaturg for Travesties, I get the ever less rare opportunity of discovering the undiscovered, or more bluntly, accessing the inaccessible. Travesties is the kind of show where having a healthy grasp of Romanian geography, early twentieth century British fashion, and Leopold Bloom will serve the audience well, but who has the time?

Rather lets put aside the notion of that learning precedes understanding with some good old fashioned-

In Vino Veritas

It’s a Latin phrase. It means “in wine, truth.” Which is to say, “The truth is in the wine,” or “after drinking wine the truth flows free,” or maybe it’s “the complex nature of the metabolic processes which occur after drinking alcohol (wine included) results in an altered chemical brain state which in turn lets the imbiber process ideas in a different way, allowing previously unseen truth to be recognized.”

The idea that alcohol can influence truth and understanding goes as far back as the fifth century BC Greek “father of history” Herodotus. He asserted that if a Persian decided something while drunk, they should consider it while sober. Since then, authors have added that if the Persians made a decision while sober, they should reconsider it while drunk.

All it takes is some sugar, water, a microscopic fungus, and you too can have your own second opinion.

I admit, as a dramaturg and supporter of unconsidered viewpoints the vino possibilities are curiously compelling–that there might be another dramaturg hidden in my head, just a couple of compromises away. Yet I am faced with a quandary both moral and institutional. I am a student at BYU which is constantly reaffirmed by Facebook posts, comments in class, and the annual Princeton Review as the No. 1 Stone-Cold sober school in United States. We are so sober that it can only be understood in terms of the WWE wrestler Steve Austin. At BYU sobriety is never without the stone-cold modifier. Every morning in the mirror I repeat the affirmation—I’m sober, but am I stone-cold sober? I imagine we all do. Inevitably, I can only wander down this dramaturgical path to drinking so far. I never crest the hill of understanding where I say to Herodotus, “Right on man, I totally get that.” By choice, I am forever separated from my inaccessible drunken self.

And yet-

The following is a recording from an Interview that dramaturgs Jessa Cunningham and I conducted with Roger Sorenson and Megan Sanborn Jones, the directors of The Importance of Being Earnest and Travesties respectively.

Here is the same interview, only slowed down 55%.

Without any alcohol at all, we are able to have a noticeably different experience with the same information, and inexperience doesn’t necessarily mean inaccessible.

Come see both shows―sober.

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