Simple is Best [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="640"]
Indeed.[/caption] by Adam White, dramaturg
I write this blog post on the day of final dress rehearsal, on the eve of opening night! Everyone involved in this production of A Man for All Seasons has done marvelous work; the set and costuming and make up are all beautiful, and the cast is eager to put their performance in front of a live audience. I guess one could wonder if a dramaturg would give anything but a glowing report of their play that's about to go up, but quite truthfully: I'm eager for you to see this play!
On the subject of wanting you to see our production of A Man For All Seasons, I want to relay to you an interesting experience I had just two day ago. Every BYUarts theatre production gets a promotional video, and I was asked by the video makers in charge of the promotional video to be interviewed for the piece on A Man for All Seasons. I accepted, and when I was in the interview, they had two questions for me:
1.) What is A Man for All Seasons about?
2.) Why should people go see A Man for All Seasons?
As a dramaturg, I had a great answer for number one. Summarizing the events of this play in an interesting way was no problem. But that second question? That question gave me the hardest time! In the interview moment I was so flustered by my lack of an a concise answer. I quickly babbled out some gibberish to the camera man, after which I apologized and told him if he needed something more intelligible he shouldn't hesitate to call me back. Needless to say I was pretty embarrassed after the experience.
Here's the thing: I'm the dramaturgy for this show. I should have some insight as to why people should go see this play (and I do). As I've thought about this experience and about my work as a dramaturg, I've come to the realize that in this situation what I needed was simplicity. Simple is best.
See, during that brief interview with the promotional video guys, I was trying to make up a reason for people to see this show that sounded meaningful, or at least scholarly. That wasn't the right attitude for me at all because it meant that I was reaching beyond the play, maybe for selfish reasons, to lend what I deemed to be credibility to a piece of art that, maybe, doesn't need to be legitimized at all. I was being long-winded and downright silly. What the play really needed was for me to speak its simple 'truth.' To redeem myself a little bit and to put my new motto for dramaturgy into practice, I will tell you why I think people should see A Man for All Seasons. I firmly believe, in the words of Oscar Wilde, that "Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life." This play, this conflict between Thomas More, his family, and King Henry VIII, informs our understanding of what it means to have a conscience. Bolt challenges us to explore what it means to have an integrity and what having integrity means in our most intimate relationships. Also revealed in this play is the corrupting influence of political power. I think that every person grapples with these themes, experiences, and issues.A Man for All Seasons is an important play for people to see. The promotional video guys didn't end up using my interview for the promotional video. Frankly, I feel so relieved; it was awful. May you forego the trappings of intelligent-sounding language the next time you are in an interview. Enjoy the show!