16 May 2015

Stupid Fucking Bird

It's been a while since I have seen a good play. The last time I saw one was in New York City, back in September last year, when I saw Boys and Girls by Dylan Coburn Gray. So when I was in Boulder last March, I took the opportunity to see a production of Stupid Fucking Bird by Aaron Posner.

This is actually some sort of remake of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. There is an playwright, Con, who is in love with an actress, Nina. Nina however is infatuated with a famous writer Trig, who is dating Con's mother, Emma. A girl named Mash is in love with Con, and a guy named Dev is in love with Mash. All of these characters are observed by an old man, Sorn, who is actually Emma's brother and Con's uncle. Given the dynamics between these characters, you would expect that this would be a comedy, but actually, it is more drama than comedy, and quite intense I should say.

This play touches on many things, and I would like to comment on them one by one. First, I loved how this play is quite meta. The fourth wall is broken many times. For example, the play won't start until someone in the audience shouts "Start the fucking play!" And then, later on, Con has a conversation with the audience on how to convince Nina to love him. Hence, the line between fact and fiction gets blurred a lot, and I loved this aspect of meta-theatricality.

Second, this play also comments on how theatre as an art form is slowly degrading. Most plays now only have fewer than 7 actors, and so this reflects on the current economic state of the arts, where it is harder and harder to produce plays with more actors due to the relative unprofitability of things. This is a sad state, and I think that more support should be given to this art form.

This play also touches on life issues such as love, aging, and life. Plenty of philosophical issues were raised, such as whether we are all "actors" in life, acting a part that is expected of us by society. There were definitely plenty of things to think about.

And finally, this play touches on the notion of art. The interesting thing about art is that on the one hand, there is the desire to be original, new, and artistic for purely artistic motives. But on the other hand, we all need to eat, and therefore sometimes we prefer to do art that would actually pay our bills. The audience is asked what exactly is art, and is best illustrated by Emma's reaction to Con's avant-garde "performance piece" which didn't really fit the traditional notions of theatre.

Overall, it was a very profound piece, and I am glad that I was able to see it while I was in Boulder. If this play is coming to a theatre near you, I suggest you buy tickets and see it.

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