“I haven’t seen a script since High School,” one of the guests confessed at the first ‘Dinner Theatre’ this past Sunday. It was such a pleasure to host new friends, old friends, theatre professionals, theatre lovers, and theatre newbies in my living room to break bread and read a great play. In a way, it was threatre in it’s simplest form – pure storytelling.
For our November edition, we read ‘The Arsonists’ by Max Frisch, a political satire as relevant today as it was in 1953, the year it was written. The story follows Biedermann (German for “Everyman”) who welcomes two unsavory gents into his home. As it becomes evident his visitors are responsible for a string of fires in town, Biedermann refuses to see the worst – even going so far as to help measure detonating fuse wire with his guests. Whether you relate the themes presented to international terrorism, Ferguson, or another modern problem, this parable of bourgeois privilege, ignorance, and guilt holds everyone accountable and leaves you questioning your own motives and actions.
A major topic of discussion was the playwright’s use of “comedy as revolution.” Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ Brecht’s ‘Threepenny Opera’ and ‘The Good Person of Szechwan’ (among others), and even ‘The Cosby Show’ and ‘Will & Grace’ are all examples of comedies igniting social and political change. It was suggested that perhaps the levity of comedy is more approachable and encourages an open mind. Perhaps we are more willing to laugh than display, or experience, more vulnerable emotions.
What do you think? I hope to hear your thoughts and I look forward to seeing you at the next edition of ‘Dinner Theatre’ on December 28th when we read Christopher Hampton’s sparkling translation of Odon von Horvath’s ‘Judgement Day.’ RSVP here!