I wrote recently in my column about public speaking and how I’m used to it. In the middle of writing that piece, I got sidetracked for hours by two eternal questions. Well, they’re eternal to me; I’m not sure the rest of the world is bothering with them, but maybe the world should. And if the world meditates on my questions and comes up with something, I would appreciate if the world provided those answers. I have other questions, too, but the world can start here:
1. If a performer presents to an audience, this is making theater. If the performer presents to no one, is theater still made?
2. Does my identity as a performer run so deep that if I were shipwrecked on an island, would I write and perform plays for the squirrels?
My answer to the first question remains, after many years: “I don’t know; go ask Peter Brook.” The answer to the second question is “Yes.”
Were I shipwrecked on a remote desert island, I would without question look for a way to build a little stage in the shade. I would memorize my lines — lines I couldn’t even write down because there is no paper on remote desert islands from what I understand — and I would rehearse hours each day. I would gather split coconuts, which could be used for costume purposes. Were I to choose to produce a puppet show, these coconuts could make excellent boats. I could perhaps train a squirrel to come in on cue for a little comic relief during one of my real downers. “Just eat a nut or something!” I’d yell, and he would never, ever, ever do it. Which would be funny.
Yes, the love for getting up and being on the performance side of that ancient line in the sand runs deep. I wouldn’t change it if I could.
I don’t actively make theater these days. I miss the Neo-Futurists all the time. And how about that: the first sentence of this paragraph has led to a third question: If a person who makes theater isn’t presently making theater, is she still a maker of theater?