Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gritting my teeth (a brief rant in defense of small family-owned theatres in West Yellowstone)

Went to the dentist this morning...need a crown and half a dozen fillings, and one wisdom tooth extracted. But that's neither here nor there.

It was a lot more irritating to deal with the dental hygienist who cleaned my teeth, (bless her heart). She asked what my major was, and when I replied "Fee-uh-duhr ed" (theatre ed), she immediately began talking about the Playmill, and I told her how I was there for two years. Which was fun. But at the end of my exam/cleaning, she said,

"You know, I've been going to the Playmill for 30 years...we went when the Bensons owned it and later when John Bidwell owned it, and in the last years, and we've always loved it. But I really miss the piano. It bugs me having the canned music. It kind of bothers me. Okay, it really bothers me. I used to love that piano."

Liz, slightly confused but not particularly invested in the conversation, puts on her "customer service hat," and begins nodding understandingly. The conversation continues:

DENTAL HYGIENIST: That's so disappointing.

LIZ: I'm sorry. (inner monologue: Do you have any idea how much easier it is with tracks?! No need to find an accompanist for the entire summer, great sound of full orchestra tracks, enormous flexibility with set changes and staging?)

DENTAL HYGIENIST: And I've been worried about shows being inappropriate, too.

LIZ: Really? (inner monologue: Uh oh...)

DENTAL HYGIENIST: Yeah, I mean, we've been going for years...my husband always loved it--my husband is a general authority, he's a member of the seventy--and we've always loved it, but we didn't even go last year.

LIZ: Oh. (inner monologue: Of course. Your husband, the general authority. The one with the monopoly on righteous entertainment.)

DENTAL HYGIENIST: Yeah, we went and saw "Footloose" not this last year, but the first year that they did it, and it was just so inappropriate.

LIZ: Hm. (inner monologue: Oh, the first year. The year I was in it. Wonder if I should put her in her place and tell her my role in that very show was one of my favorite at the Playmill...?)

DENTAL HYGIENIST: Yeah, it was just so contentious. Like between the dad and the daughter; just a lot of contention.

LIZ: Oh, yeah. (inner monologue: You mean there's conflict? In a PLAY?!)

DENTAL HYGIENIST: Yeah, in 30 years, I've never walked out of a play, but we walked out of "Footloose."

LIZ: That's a shame. (inner monologue: If you'd watched to the end, you'd have seen a beautiful message of redemption and family healing.)

DENTAL HYGIENIST: Yeah, we've been going every year, but after "Footloose," we just didn't even go last year. We just weren't sure if it would be appropriate or not. But this year the shows are great!

LIZ: Yeah, I'm excited to see them! (inner monologue: The main characters in "Seven Brides" model their behavior after ancient Roman RAPISTS. There are members of the KU KLUX KLAN in "The Foreigner." There's an effing MOB in "Beauty and the Beast." But fathers and daughters don't disagree, so it's all "appropriate.")

DENTAL HYGIENIST: Yeah, I was glad they picked good shows this year.

LIZ: Yeah, they should be great. (inner monologue: Or just shows you happen to like.)

Now, I know I'm preaching to the choir here, and you've all heard it (or said it yourselves) before, but I'd just like to articulate these few points:

1. Conflict does not necessarily equal evil. As a matter of fact, it is NECESSARY for successful theatre.
2. Truth can be found in heaven, earth, or hell, and it is our responsibility as human beings, and especially as Latter-day Saints, to find and share it.
3. If you're that concerned about your entertainment, shame on you for not researching what you're participating in before paying for your tickets.
4. Instead of pointing fingers, recognize "where the accountability lies." "I didn't like it" is not the same thing as "It was bad," just as "I loved it" is not the same as "It was way good." "It was inappropriate" more often than not probably actually means "I personally couldn't get past certain issues to find the truth/the cost was greater than the reward." Please do not tell people they are doing something wrong when they are trying to share or seek out messages of truth, redemption and healing. If you are offended, that's FINE. You are not obligated to participate. But you are obligated to respect the tastes and artistic journeys of others. And there ARE things out there that ARE inappropriate. (Pornography comes to mind.) Protect yourself to whatever degree you wish in your own entertainment choices, but do not deprive others of the opportunity to learn and grow from artistic experiences that they choose.

(For a more detailed examination of the role of agency in art, see this.)


Carrie Lynn said...

Liz. I love you. Also, Footloose is one of the cleanest shows around. It's set in a small, rural, religious community. Now where have I seen that before...?

Guy Mayhem said...

Footloose?! She had a problem with Footloose? Geh. That play is so just above tame it's laughable.

I'm glad the KKK is good old family fun and Footloose is downright devilicious.

Its ridiculous to think that conflict is a questionable aspect of theater. The Book of Mormon is 99 percent conflict. Obviously God has a lot for us the learn from conflict. The 1 percent of the Book of Mormon that isn't conflict is in 4th Nephi. Obviously, there's nothing to say on it.

It's why Inferno is good and Paradiso is so vague and winding.

Geh. This is where I stop myself from writing a strongly worded letter to someone. I do love sending those.

Laura said...

I saw Footloose at the Playmill last year with a bleedin' MORMON GIRLS' CAMP for Alan Rickman's sake! The stake president was there (with the last name Moore, funnily enough) and thought the whole thing was bloody brilliant! Not to mention spiritually enlightening. Oh boy. Some people make me almost embarrassed to be human.

A said...

This made me laugh outloud--especially when I got to the part about her walking out. HA HA Footloose! Of all things!

Anonymous said...

I defend anyone's right to walk out of any production they want. What I can't defend would be that person's insistence that everyone else should walk out, too.

Anonymous said...

I think I am going to stop reading the Book of Mormon because of the child/father contention between Laman and Lehi. That is just unacceptable.

Liz-a-nator said...

"Footloose" is actually pretty CHEESY in its attempts at being above tame, if we're completely honest.

The "bad guys" assist the leading lady in gymnastics. I mean, REALLY.