Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

21 October 2006

Six Degrees

I'm not sure if I should talk about FSU's production of Six Degrees of Separation. The director was the Director of the School of Theatre here, so the whole enterprise is very politically charged. He also cast faculty members as the adults in the piece (weird) and built seating banks on the deck of our mainstage theatre instead of seating patrons in the house (we're in the midst of a parking shortage this semester, so it was partly a seating concern, I hear.) The gentleman friend was unable to attend, so Ryan went with me.

We were both fairly horrified by the show. He much more than I, but I as well. I think this horror is partly a textual thing and partly (moreso, in my opinion) a thing with our particular production. The thing that Ryan kept asking me was "But why do this show?" and I think his question is right on the money. The show is dated and weird. It has a 1990s Realism thing going on and it... well the show has a lot of problems. The race and the sexuality of the anti-hero of the show are huge sticking points and are used only to illustrate "otherness." What I mean by this is the reason the character is black and the reason the character is gay is because both of those things are "other" than the main characters of the show, Ouisa and Flan. The point is that he isn't black and gay: what he is is not-white and not-straight. It's a weird show. For me, the show's problems can be solved to a very large extent with good direction. (Ryan disagrees with me on this one, for the record. He points to the disastrous Children's Hour moment in the play when the young man from Utah who Paul fucks throws himself out of the window of the roller disco or whatever it is. This moment, says Ryan, is inherently homophobic à la The Children's Hour. He's right about this and I can't argue.)

The point really is "Why do the show at all?" What does Six Degrees of Separation have to say to us still? Has someone else come along and said what is good in Six Degrees better than John Guare has since he wrote the play in 1990? I think someone probably has.

One more thing about this show. Before Six Degrees I hadn't seen the work of my colleague and friend Herman Montero, who designed the lighting for the show. The man is brilliant. Keep your eyes peeled for his name. He knows what he is doing.