Sunday, April 06, 2008
Last night I got to see one of my favorite plays again, Stones, by my friend Scott Bronson. I saw it for the first time seven years ago and it blew me away. It was even better this time. First, because I am seven years older and wiser, and brought seven years more experience to the viewing. And second, because he has made a couple of quite small changes that actually dramatically altered the play’s impact for me. I’d like to recommend the play to everyone—but I can’t. It’s not for people who want their entertainment to be easy or relaxing. It challenges you. It is not a “downer,” but it is a true “upper” similar to true joy: it can only come when you have had your soul harrowed a little; it encompasses pain and growth. Also, one of the characters is Jesus, so if you are uncomfortable with the concept of Jesus being acted out (and some of his humanity becoming apparent), you might not like this. And yet I can’t help thinking that it would be good for you, even you who are uncomfortable, to see it. You don’t have to agree with Scott’s interpretations in order to grow closer to God through viewing this play. Because it generates thoughtfulness (the mark of great art!), and will cause you to ponder and clarify your own beliefs.
I’d like to get into more detail about the things I learned from the soul-searching this play inspired, but I don’t want to step on the possibility of your learning your own things from it. But in general terms, I’ll tell you that I learned a lot about submission to God’s will, about parenting, about the ways we learn (through experience, through “going through stuff” as much as through any direct lessons), about how God requires things of us that lead to our growth, about how we communicate spiritual knowledge to others who depend on us.
I can’t say too much about how I think art should be like this: a little bit uncomfortable, yet deeply satisfying and faith-building (optimistic, ultimately), something that makes you think and talk all the way home and for days afterward. This is the kind of art that we Mormon artists should be producing and are capable of producing (with a little guts). The trick, now, is to support it, to build the audience for it, to show each other that this is what Mormon art looks like, to convince the people around us that it is important to foster it.
So I’m writing this in hopes that you’ll go see it, if you’re in the area. It’s playing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through April 26th at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo (425 W. Center, 852-7007) at 7:30 p.m. It’s in a fantastic little theater in which there are no bad seats and in which you are just feet away from the actors—actors who, by the way, will knock your socks off. Tickets are $10 each (and worth it). If you go, let me know what you think.