The highlight of my week must’ve been Friday night when I watched a play with a friend. It was a collaborative performance that started with a concept rather than a script. During the post-performance dialogue the director shared the process, saying the university had contacted her because they were interested in staging a play about consumerism. Concept in hand, she assembled her cast and crew, and gave them research tasks in order to piece together the play. Initially she expected to have snippets that portrayed various facets of consumerism but they ended up with the narrative that they chose to stage.
The play itself was about this poor young couple that wanted to make a life for themselves. They designed and sold clothes in order to survive but then they wanted more. Through hard work they managed to build a behemoth brand that took over shopping malls all around the country. Marketing strategies and management strategies were wittily presented as their sales managers explained how each second spent in front of particular shelves could increase sales. Differences among individuals were explained, like a man accompanied by a woman was more likely to buy more than he had intended than when accompanied by another man. The extent of their “scientific” endeavour to increase sales was pretty remarkable.
Then things turned sinister. The man was kidnapped. His partner was distraught. The lawyers calculated how much he was worth. They presented their findings to her, putting a price tag on his health, each body part (from the brain, to the ears, to the hands, even maintaining that his right hand was a slight bit more valuable than the left hand, of course), his life, his achievements, etc. It was necessary, the lawyers claimed, so that they could determine the value of his ransom. She signed the papers, stating that she has no reservations when it came to the money. She just wanted him back, no matter the cost.
After his return though,they still didn’t get their happy ending. Questions about product origins arose. She was afraid that they were the cause of a lot of misery. she didn’t want to do it anymore. She wanted to shut down the company. He insisted they were providing jobs for people who chose to work in the factories. And so it went, the spotlight was cast on the working conditions. “I only have 20 minutes to dream, so I don’t do it much,” one says. Talks about swiping food for the workers to secretly take home to their families. Being forced to work as a child because parents can’t support their families alone.
She was wrought with guilt. But he told her to give it another day. They had their biggest sales day in the country ahead of them. He had to be there. The day concludes with tragedies. Greed, selfish behaviour and fights. A shopper using pepper spray on others to get that coveted shirt. Shoppers forcing their way into closed stores, shattering glass doors, wounding sales assistants. Shoppers in need of immediate medical attention stuck in impossible crowds. Shoppers trampled to death. And then he too died, leaving her behind. Turns out they never were married because “they couldn’t afford that piece of paper,” her best friend tells the lawyers. The lawyers talk about valuing assets, doing a whole load of paperwork but she just leaves them with photos to honour his memory on billboards across the country. Then she and her best friend leave, and the narrator concludes, “No other end in the world will there be.”
It was an entertaining yet very chilling play, to say the least. The audience laughed, cried and shifted uncomfortably in their seats. It was evident that some had never thought about the extent of the negative impact consumerism can have on society. They were the ones completely unsettled. But that is the job of theatre as well, not just to entertain or provide catharsis but also to challenge and that is why I appreciated Friday night so much.
Oh and I watched Divergent on Thursday with my dad. I thought the stunts were breath-taking and I thought the set looked very realistic. Still, despite liking the movie, I felt something was missing. Maybe I’ll talk about it in a separate post this coming week.
- [24 Mar] Epic Recs: March 2014
- [25 Mar] Now I'll Tell You Everything by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor ★
- [27 Mar] Unabashedly Yours, A Polygamous Reader
- [30 Mar] Retrospect #13: March 30th
BLOGGERS & BLOGGING
- Mel @ The Daily Prophecy makes it very clear what constitutes bullying and what doesn’t. If there’s one blog post you should read on this list, it’s this one.
- Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms insists that she’s a reader, not a writer.
- Asti @ Oh, the Books! shares her experiences as a marketing intern in the publishing industry.
- Sana @ The Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile takes a look at the trend of trilogies and duologies in YA.
- Miranda @ Tempest Books talks about her shelving system on Goodreads.
- Genevieve @ the Reading Shelf says she’s a very emotional reader.
- Hazel @ Stay Bookish is a midnight reader. Night owls unite!
- Annie @ The Runaway Reader considers what it means to review books as a book blogger.
One heartbeat, two heartbeats, three heartbeats, more, and you never know when you have use yours up. That’s the thing. You don’t know. How long will your heart beat for? How many heartbeats do you have?
Have you ever watched a play? How do you like watching live actors on stage?