Musings on Photography

Playing to Strengths

Posted in the art world by Paul Butzi on September 13, 2009


Last evening Paula and I went to hear a play reading at the Seattle Rep. It’s a new play, still being developed, and it’s co-authored by one of our longtime favorite Seattle playwrights, Todd Jefferson Moore. He’s done a number of plays somewhat along these lines: he addresses an issue by going out into the real world, and interviewing people on all sides of an issue, and then he takes those interviews, interleaves passages from various interviews, and the result is a play that, because it’s expressing all sides of an issue, doesn’t so much present answers as it presents questions.

For this play, Moore was coauthor with Sara Jo Breslow. Breslow is an anthropology student, and the interviews on which the play is based are her field work, and the play itself is her dissertation.

Before the play, I was reading the program, and was struck by this passage

My dissertation would necessarily bring the multiple voices of my interviewees into conversation. But I realised that through theater I could bring this conversation to life – onstage as well as in the audience. A play, unlike a book or even film, requires an audience to come together in the same room, perhaps for the first time, and witness a conversation that until now has only taken place inside my head. A play requires the audience to watch listen, and reflect together.

-Sara Jo Breslow

It’s not so much that this particular point is news to me. I just think it’s an outstanding expression of how, by playing to it’s strengths, art can make a lot of difference.

I imagine it comes as no surprise, then, that I’m a big fan of Lewis Hine.

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