Ush. Waia. Like the sound of the wind itself.
My wife and I spend a notable amount of time talking about ethics in performance.
What is ethical to ask of an audience? Of a performer? What effect is the moment you create for them putting out into the world?
Often in our discussion we use Martin McDonagh as shorthand for work that puts audiences and performers through the ringer. It’s important that discussions of abstractions not hinge on work being bad, so we use McDonagh because the work is excellent. I performed the role of Katurian in The Pillowman while we were in Austin. She saw the effect on me that the emotional grind of spending 3-4 hours a night living as Katurian had. The effect on audiences is one of laughing through creeping dread.
The play is dark and intense and there are lots of companies that choose to do it because it’s dark and intense. The extremely abbreviated rebuttal to that idea is: you have to have a better reason than they to put your audience and your performers in that place. The audience is giving themselves into your hands for 2 hours. What do you choose to do? Why?
Why not make a different choice? In this moment I believe that audiences want to escape the stress of the world more than ever. They will watch anything that can immerse them for even a moment.
So why not let them escape to someplace that is suffused with kindness?
Someplace that is animated by the sound of the wind on the bay.
Sit them in a room with each other, a handful of performers and love.
Mature, difficult love negotiated with care.
Ushuaia Blue by Caridad Svich is blurbed as “A love story set against the backdrop of climate science”. What it is is what happens when a poet is sent to describe the world ending because people don’t want to do the hard work and have the hard conversations… and how our relationships are exactly the same. Svich offer performers the opportunity to be vulnerable and heartbroken without ever having to scream about it.
Ushuaia Blue won’t be for everyone. Poetry and quiet don’t reach everyone the same way. Some audiences require Capital S “Story” to be foregrounded.
But I challenge you to offer your audiences and your performers something different in a moment that is so confoundingly different.