Post-show discussion – Sunday, August 6

This is what I think constitutes good art, one audience member told us towards the beginning of Sunday’s discussion. It’s not preachy, it doesn’t give concrete solutions – Spinning into Butter puts different perspectives on a complicated issue on stage and leaves it to the audience to wrestle with the morality of those perspectives.

That’s a wonderful comment for us as artists to hear from our audience, and it’s a testament to the strength of Rebecca Gilman’s writing – these are real people, complete with real flaws, dealing with real issues.

Click on “Read the rest of this entry” for a few highlights from Sunday’s discussion, and be sure to read the great post written by Kerry Richlan (she’s playing Dean Sarah Daniels) on the cast’s response to one of the most frequently asked questions – “How do you memorize all those lines??” – just below.

 

The actors were asked if they had had a dialogue on their own experiences and opinions involving racism as part of their preparation for this play, and they said that that had been part of the table work process (when the actors, director and dramaturg spend several rehearsals sitting down with the script to explore it line by line), but there wasn’t an effort to have a formal discussion like the ones that take place on and off stage in the play. Cheri Chenoweth, playing Dean Catherine Kenney, said that the focus during rehearsals was to present the story, as opposed to presenting the issues. Director Anish Jethmalani also mentioned again the idea that the post-show discussions function as a third act, and they’ve certainly given us and our audiences the opportunity to have an open and honest dialogue about our own perspectives on racism.

One person commented that they felt Patrick Chibas, the Nuyorican student who decides to allow himself to be categorized as “Hispanic” for the sake of simplifying a scholarship application before rethinking the stakes of that compromise, is the most “dangerous” character in the play. I’m not sure exactly what was meant by “dangerous,” although I got the sense from the questioner that it had to do with the fact that his sense of the importance of these words grow throughout the story, so you “don’t know where he’s coming from.” Gerardo Cardenas, who plays Patrick, talked about his approach to this character – Patrick’s relatively young and, like many college students of any ethnic background, he’s exploring his heritage and finding pride in his identity. He’s also being influenced by the opinions of his father and his friends, and his feelings are probably affected in a profound way by the events that take place on campus, so it makes sense that his motivations evolve through the play.

One of our ushers (coming from the Saints, some of the most wonderful people in the whole wide world) commented on the monologue that everyone has the strongest response to; Sarah’s description of how she considers race as she chooses one empty seat over another on the El in Chicago: “When I get on the El,” our usher shared with us, “I just choose the closest seat. Does that make me not a racist?”

“It makes you practical,” was the answer from one of the cast members on stage.

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One Response

  1. Thank You

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