FINE ARTS COLUMNIST
Between the deep, gripping, emotional, and intense main stage of ‘The Elephant Man,’ the craziness of the one act ‘Salome,’ and the extreme darkness and terror of the other one act ‘The Insanity of Mary Girard,’ all of our plays this semester have been scary and hard hitting. You doubtless wanted to shrink in your seat a little bit. But hey, that is how a lot of art should be, honestly.
Of course, there are fun, happy, delightful comedies that we do every so often. Sometimes we do them three semesters in a row. But art is meant to move you to action. It is meant to call you out on your faults, the flaws of society, and make you see something that you did not notice before.
And laughing is okay, we need to be relieved at times, but that is not all art is or should be used for. An art piece that can cause a person to think deeply about a certain topic for a lengthy period of time is typically a good piece of art. And I truly think that the three shows this semester captured that ideal.
Going in to this semester, all of us in the program were extremely nervous about the possible bad reactions from our Franciscan audience. Obviously, we knew what the truth was behind this dark plays. We knew the beauty and necessity of their stories.
However, would everyone else? We will not sit and think that absolutely everyone will understand or be able to take away what we want them to, but if at least one person can…then it was all completely worth it in our eyes.
And I think I may be able to speak for all of us majors when I say that we were completely relieved and thrilled by the reactions of you all. The raving comments of not just how good the shows were technically but how much they made you really have to think and ponder what was going on. That is what we desired and aimed to achieve.
Sure, we could have done a “deep” play where the message was shoved into your face…but then you would not have to think as much. Rather, the plays that were chosen by our professors and seniors were with the intent to make you question the motives of the characters and why they were in that position.
In ‘The Elephant Man’ you were made to feel horrid about how John was treated and thus think about how you view others who are “different.” In ‘Salome’ you were shown what obsessive passions can do to you and those around you. And lastly, in ‘The Insanity of Mary Girard’ you got a glimpse of what mental torture can really be like, a manifestation of the demons in our mind and how they lie to us and skew our way of thinking and thus emphasizing the importance of our roles as Christians to be the love everyone needs.
As I said before, it is all right to want to just sit and laugh for a bit. We all need that relief from time to time. But art should engage you, strike you, force you to ponder, and then move you to action. And that is not easy, and certainly will not be comfortable.