In Lecoq grad school we did an extensive deep dive into "The Bouffons" and "The Grotesque." Theatrical territories that deal with absurdity, mockery, gallows humor, and the subversive... the painful laugh accompanying the tragic sense of bewilderment at the incongruities and cruelties of life. Yesterday's press conference with Drumpf The Bully deepened my full body understanding of these theatrical territories. The terror of watching the buffoon mock CNN and call it "fake news" and the Orwellian double speak. In some ways as a contemporary American isolated from the living reality of daily life under a dictator (a life so many humans on the planet know intimately), I've had the luxury of not fully understanding "The Grotesque" in my bones. Forgive me if this is incoherent. Though in a way incoherence is at the heart of all of this.
Add to it that AT THE SAME TIME, Rex Tillerson is saying he doesn't know whether Exxon lied about climate change knowledge, and the ways Tillerson has colluded with and protected brutal dictators for decades (he refuses to respond to questions which criticize Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines' brutality and Exxon's human rights abuses in Indonesia, Nigeria, and Equatorial Guinnea are very real).... the surreality of what is going on... the way the country is tumbling forward amidst all of this cognitive dissonance... I guess it's good to understand human nature more deeply. But I would trade a deepened appreciation of grad school for some semblance of class and dignity in our civil life in a heartbeat.
I appreciate Meryl Streep's call to take our broken hearts and turn it into art. I guess I just feel at this moment something I've not quite felt in this particular way - which is, I'd trade art in a heartbeat for a reality in which there was no more cause for art. If somebody said "ok there will be no more plays or art ever but the earth will be spared the nightmare of an Exxon CEO as secretary of state, and the bombing in Syria will stop, and civil rights will be an actual reality (because it's not despite our nostalgia for the 60's), and these things will be protected with perpetual ferocity, I think I'd say cool. I'd get dust protectors and book covers for all of the plays that exist. I'd hire the best art conservationists. And wail dirges as art descended into the earth and become fodder for the worms of real life compassion. It's both a deepening of appreciation for artists like Vaclav Havel and Dario Fo and Augusto Boal and Pussy Riot... as well as an existential sadness.
This must be the true sadness of clown.