TEMPERED Dramaturg's Blog #1
Tempered. composed; restrained. Rage. Ire; chaos. The emotional paradox of existing in an industry, in a country, that has not changed. The expectation to remain tempered in the face of exploitation. The rage it takes to break free.
4615 Theatre’s upcoming show tempered: a cabaret centers the rollercoaster experience of rage, and what changes it necessitates. As the dramaturg for this production, I am dedicating this blog as a space for weekly conversation with my collaborators about their experience of rage, and how it has fueled the creation of this cabaret.
For many in this industry, and in this country, the past few years have been a masterpiece of catastrophes. It’s like ink that dripped on a page and just kept spreading, covering every experience with one word: enough. We have had enough. All the anti-racist anti-harm web statements in the world didn’t change the old guard. It’s time for the systemic harm to be stopped. For me, that’s where rage kicks in.
Rage is always in motion. For every moment that it is restrained, it is plotting. Rage requires action. That plotting, and that action, is exhausting. It’s like pulling oneself out of a hole to in order to build a ladder. The hardest part is finding a place to rest along the way. The urgency of change leaves little room for rest.
Tempered: A Cabaret is an exploration of rage: as grief, as action, as remembering, as letting go. The artists return to the scene of their COVID-canceled show for the first time since breaking down the set 2 years prior. The stage is exactly as empty as they left it. They fill it – with song, movement, prose, and presence. Offerings of rage, both inside and out.
In the past two years, and especially since joining as the dramaturg for this production, I have ruminated on rage as an experience. It’s well-known that when faced with great loss, most people experience 7 stages of grief. During this pandemic, too many people have been forcefully familiarized with these stages. Now, many of us are sharing the next national experience: rage. We inherited a world that was ready-built to divide and conquer us. It showed no mercy. Everything that is coming to a head - from price gouging to labor exploitation - has people angry. Anger, like grief, comes in emotional stages: escalation, crisis, and recovery.
As I embark on this creative journey with 4615, those stages are centered in my mind. What happens during the escalation, and when do we realize that it is happening? How can we survive crisis, and channel rage into positive change? How do we make space for recovery? The center of these questions is the human experience of living. I have had enough of seeing people worked to the bone by uncaring industries and governments. I have had enough of money and oil meaning more than someone’s life. For me, the other side of rage is deliberately gentle. It is every ounce of joy that we were angry to lose. It is every minute of rest that was taken away. The recovery is the change, and it’s well overdue.
tempered: a cabaret performs July 29-August 6 at Dance Loft on 14. Tickets are on sale now.