Friday, January 19, 2007

Comparing chocolate brownies and asparagus...

The posting's title is courtesy of Stolen Chair's Managing Director Aviva Meyer, who was trying to solicit critical feedback from her mother that did not frame Kill Me... in relation to the other four Stolen Chair pieces she had seen.

For those who are new to Stolen Chair's work: buying a ticket to a Stolen Chair show is a little bit like hitting a piƱata. There's something tasty awaiting you, but you have no idea what is in until you put the blindfold on and start swinging...

Here's what I mean: Even if you only go back to 2005, Stolen Chair audiences have stepped into a commedia dell'arte-inspired masked farce in rhyming couplets, a live silent film, an Elizabethan blank-verse gender-bent farce performed in the style of Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company, and an absurdist live film noir. Throughout these projects, the writing, directing, design, and performance styles shared very little except some continuity in the creative team itself, a rigorous research and development process, a commitment to create the most visually ravishing work that a minuscule budget can buy, and a dedication to theatrical ventriloquism, throwing our voices into the diverse film and theatre styles we've stolen.

What's tricky is that I've still got some people telling me that Portrait of Dora as Young Man (2002) was Stolen Chair's best work, and each play since then has amassed its fair share of diehard fans. There is, as the saying goes, no accounting for taste, and it seems to us that people tend to have strong preferences when it comes to theatrical style: one member of our audience might wish we'd return to a commedia-based show, while another might wonder why we didn't stick to Elizabethan-style verse. It becomes, therefore, nigh impossible to get any feedback about the company's evolution that isn't tied to individual stylistic preferences or production values.

Now, faithful blog readers, if you wouldn't mind participating in an experiment, I turn to those among you who have seen more than one Stolen Chair show to comment below and let us know what you've come to expect from us and how we've developed over the years., assuming of course, that you believe we've grown over the years :).

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