Tag Archives: Maura

History of Dirty Words

*Note- this entry uses “adult language,” but we’re pretty sure if you’ve seen Bootycandy, you’re ok with that…

Did you know that our best dirty words began as euphemisms? Seriously – if you look at the etymology of “cunt,” while the origin of the word is debated, it probably evolved from a word meaning “slit” or “sheath” or “to hide.” Same goes for good ol’ “fuck.” The precise root is uncertain, but suggestions range from Middle English fike meaning “to move restlessly” to Swedish fock meaning “penis” to German ficken “to itch or scratch.”

This is kind of counterintuitive, though, because the tendency is for dirty words to actually become LESS offensive over time… as well as less specific. The first instance of a written form of “fuck” is in the 15th century, but it wasn’t added to an English language dictionary until 1966. In fact, the word was outlawed in print in England (by the Obscene Publications Act, 1857) and the U.S. (by the Comstock Act, 1873). Another example – “shit” has been taboo since the 1600s, and was omitted by the Webster dictionary until 1970. “Bastard” used to be so bad that in Shakespeare’s time, it was usually written “b—–d.” Now, it’s considered tame.

Then there the story of comedian George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words:” a comedy bit about how the words “cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, piss, shit, tits” were completely unusable in any social context. Carlin was actually arrested in Milwaukee for disturbing the peace during one performance of “Seven Dirty Words” and a radio broadcast of his monologue is in large part what prompted the Federal Communications Commission to issue indecency regulations regarding American broadcasting.

But in 2011, these words are fairly common – our own former President Bush has used a few on public occasions, most notably when he told UK Prime Minister Tony Blair that the United Nations needed to “get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit.” There is a play running in New York right now called The Motherfucker with the Hat. The movie The Boondock Saints uses “fuck” or a derivative 246 times, and our very own Mike Daisey peppers his shows with comic obscenities.

Perhaps the reason these words are so usable now is because of that lack of specificity I mentioned earlier. There is an entire book about the history of the word “motherfucker” called The Compleat Motherfucker, by Jim Dawson, and in the first chapter he explains that by now, “Motherfucker has come to mean almost anything, and nothing at all.” “Fuck” itself has become desexualized, a process started by soldiers in WWI and continued to the point that the eff word most commonly expresses anger or irritation. An article in Slate from 2007 claims “shit” as one of the “most versatile vulgarities in our language,” and a dictionary entry lists myriad phrases and meanings like “shit-faced” or “the shit hit the fan” or “to not give a shit.”

So MAYBE people make up euphemisms because they are trying to protect their children from dirty words or real life, or maybe the extant words for body parts just don’t mean anything anymore. Little do your parents or your youth leader know… that if the usual trajectory for crude words is followed, their euphemistic phrase will eventually become taboo – then banned – then vulgar – then eventually part of the English lexicon.

Does this mean “bootycandy” will go through this process over 500 years? Well, gatdammit, I sure hope so.

~ Maura Krause, Literary Assistant

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Where is the Line Between Hate and Hate Crime?

When the news came out that Osama bin Laden had been killed, my brain was still floating in research for Robert O’Hara’s Bootycandy – specifically, research on anti-gay activism and hate crimes. So, perhaps it was natural that the seemingly triumphant fact of bin Laden’s death itself was completely overshadowed for me by reports of my nation’s collective outpourings of blind hatred. Nobody rallying at the White House or at Ground Zero personally hated bin Laden – they hated him as a symbol of the national trauma of 9/11.

And I find that disturbing, because that is what the victims of hate crimes are, isn’t it? They are merely the impersonal embodiments of an attribute that the attacker blindly hates. I’m not trying to argue that bin Laden wasn’t a dangerous and terrible person. But I do want to ask – where is the line between hatred and hate crime? When does a free speech-sanctioned opinion become violence towards another person? And most of all, is symbolic hate ever ok, even when it’s on the “good” side?

Take, for example, the case of David Parker’s son. In May of 2006, David Parker showed up at his first grader’s school in Massachusetts to object to a book depicting same-sex parents that his son brought home from school. He wanted to be warned when the lesson plan would involve gay issues, so that he could take his son out of class. When the principal refused, Parker would not leave, and eventually had to be removed by the police. The next day, his seven-year old son was beaten up on the playground – allegedly for being the child of a homophobe. There is some controversy about the attacking children’s motivations – in fact it seems probable that Parker and the anti-gay group Mass Resistance twisted a typical schoolyard fight – but let’s assume that a child was beaten up for being a symbol of homophobia, which is a form of intolerance. And isn’t intolerance one of society’s greatest evils? Don’t you, oh readers out there, hate intolerance alongside me?

But is it ever ok to attack someone for their views? Or to attack someone for the views of another person or a group they could be associated with? In what alternate reality would it be ok for us to go around kicking the crap out of the kids of homophobes – or even homophobic kids? I sit here, self-satisfied with my social liberalism and angry at the injustices rampant in the world, and I hate the people that enact hate crimes. I spent a whole day blindly hating Egyptian men as a group for what happened to Lara Logan, and I’m pretty sure it would not have been ok for me to go out and castrate the first seemingly Egyptian man I saw.

What happened on 9/11 was horrible. What happened to Lara Logan was horrible. What happens as a result of anti-gay activism is horrible. But does that horror mean it is acceptable to lash out against the people associated with causing it?

This is one of the many questions that Bootycandy forces us to address, and I find it haunting. There are very few examples of the victims of discrimination responding militantly, and I wonder why. Sometimes I even think that it might be a good idea to give violent intolerance a taste of its own medicine, but then I wonder – who would be the symbol that I’d choose?

~ Maura Krause, Literary Assistant

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Theatre as a Shared Experience

When I hear the word storytelling, I get this sort of primal vision of a group of people around a fire, concentrating on being immersed in a narrative. I think this is what theatre still represents for me: being with others in a room, focusing on whatever tale is being told. The only thing is, where our ancestors probably used stories mostly as escapism, denying their surroundings, I think that the best theatre ultimately leaves us thinking even more about our lives. Hopefully these thoughts come after an enjoyable performance, a complete night of theatre that transports you – but I think it’s really important that we have evolved a deeper purpose to telling stories.

However, I’m not going to talk about the issues Oedipus el Rey leaves me thinking about, or the relevance patrons have told me they see in Luis Alfaro’s modern day adaptation. I think the audience’s impressions and the lessons in this play have been well-documented already. What I’m fascinated by is that, out of all the plays I’ve seen, I think the core of this retelling of the age-old story of Oedipus is to highlight that feeling of people in a room together, sharing an experience.

And the key to that core is reality. Well-chosen, startling moments of reality that link each audience members together in awe, discomfort, sympathy, or fear. The actors are really doing prison exercises onstage; the lovers are really nude; the bibles are really getting torn apart. The first time I saw the actors doing series of sit-ups and pull-ups while still delivering their lines, I was mesmerized. I could see the sweat on the actors’ faces and hear the exertion in their voices, to the point where the prison was in my personal space. Viewers of the play constantly describe Oedipus and Jocasta’s love scene as raw and passionate in this startlingly beautiful way. It’s important to Luis’s tale that we’re all in the same space, seeing two nude people entwined right in front of us, because it is an experience we can’t deny sharing. Something private made public, something often euphemistic made immediate. I’ve had more than one patron tell me they checked to see if we have real bibles as props at the end of the show, and when they realize that we aren’t faking it, the play’s impact is solidified.

Of course, it goes without saying that making textual moments literal is not always the way to go. Nobody is actually having sex onstage, getting doped up, or having their eyes gouged out. I really don’t want to see any of those in a theatre, actually. The Production Dramaturg for Oedipus, John Baker, wrote a blog entry last week about walking the right line of authenticity, and he points out that one doesn’t have to have firsthand experience about the topic or characters or a play to make a contribution. Having respect for the reality and referencing the truth is important, but I’m all for creative license. The production design did not give us faithful representations of a barrio, gang tattoos, or prison cells, but their imagistic beauty is what ties Luis’s play into the mythic values of the Greek original. Oedipus el Rey is still a fiction and leaves its audience open to imagination, but the heart of it taps into not only a classic play, but an ancient sense of gathering.

At one point, Jocasta responds to Oedipus with “Real is hot when you’re young. Then you get older and you say that word to yourself – ‘real’ – and it’s never a good word again.” I’m going to have to beg to differ on that one. Judicious reality, mixed with situations and characters we won’t experience in our own lives, is pretty damn hot. And not just sexy (although this Oedipus sure is) but powerful, and strong: the fire that we continue to tell stories around.

~ Maura Krause, Literary Assistant

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Glossary of Spanish Words & Phrases

Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus el Rey is certainly written for an English-speaking audience. But as a Chicano adaptation of the Greek classic, the play is peppered with Spanish words and phrases. The seamless combination of Spanish and English is an important part of the South Central LA culture that provides the backdrop for the play. Below are some basic Spanish words as well as some of the more colorful (to say the least!) phrases you might hear on stage.

an alleluia

religious, born-again Christian

asi

like that

baboso

stupid, a slobbering idiot

barrio

neighborhood

bendito

“simple soul”; blessed

botanica

a shop that sells herbs, charms, and other religious or spiritual items

bruja

witch

cabrón

bastard, son of a bitch (also a Billy goat)

carnal

buddy

chamaco

kid (male)

chi-chi

breast

chingada

a variation of chingado, meaning fucked up

chingon

bad-ass; big shot

chisme

a piece of gossip

chismoso

a gossip

cholo

Chicano male in “gang style”

chula

pretty one, beautiful

churros

strips of fried dough (like a donut)

como no!

of course (lit. how no?)

consejo

advice

cuidate!

but, take care of yourself!

curandero

healer

entonces

then, anyway

ese

what you call your close friend, something like dude or homeboy (used mostly by Chicanos in Southern California)

eso

that, exactly

feliz

happy

la gente

the people

hermano/a

brother/sister

hijo

son

hueseros

bonesetter

huesos

bones

huevon

lazy-ass, stupid

jefe

boss, chief

joven

young man

limpia

cleansing

miedo

fear

mierda

shit

mistico

mystic

mocoso

snot-nosed kid (masculine)

negocios

business

novela

soap opera

ojos

eyes

oye

Hey! literally it means ‘listen’ or ‘to hear’

pendejo

idiot, dumb ass

pinché

fucking (as an adjective curse, not as in sex) also worthless

pleito

argument

puta/puto

whore

rabia

rage

el sobador

uncertified chiropractor/masseuse

tecolote

owl

vato

homeboy

viejo/vieja

old man/woman

ya callate

shut up (NOW)!

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Set and Costume Designer Misha Kachman on tattoos

As youll see when you come to Woolly Mammoth for Luis Alfaros Oedipus el Rey (and as you may have read in previous blog entries), tattoos are very important to the world of the play. My interest piqued by research and rehearsal attendance, I met with Misha Kachman, Oedipus el Rey‘s Set and Costume Designer, to discuss the choices hes made about the look and feel of the production’s tattoos.

How did you go about researching tattoo designs for the show?

We’ve looked at lots of images related to gangs and barrios, online and in books. I talked to Luis, of course, but there is a lot of visual research out there, too. I didn’t sit down and draw these tattoos; I tried to use real sources, and some of those come from actual tattoo designs that people offer you and display on the Internet. You can go online and look at police files that include records of gang tattoos. There is this amazing website, it’s like a Facebook for California Latino gangs. It’s out there! It’s all in the open. That’s the whole thing about belonging to the gang: it’s not a secret society. They wear gang colors, they have gang tattoos, they openly display that they belong to a certain gang. It’s a statement. It’s out there. They’re not hiding.

How authentic are the tattoo designs used in the show? Would realistic gang tattoos place the actors in danger outside the rehearsal room?

Well, there is not much danger to the actors because we’re assuming that they’re not going to go to at-risk areas. It’s also winter and they’re wearing mostly long-sleeved clothes. But, yes—we’re staying somewhat generic. None of these things say “18th Street Gang.” And you really don’t want to say “MS-13,” because the problem is that while the play deals with Los Angeles gangs, some of these gangs like Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) are also prevalent in Washington, DC.

Are designs specific to individual characters?

Yes. Tiresias, for instance, definitely has to have a cross. We have several of those. Then there is the image on Jocasta’s back. Otherwise, we don’t really do much on the actors’ backs. Most of what we see is on their arms.

There are also the owls—they will go on three of the actors’ chests. Although, right now that’s up in the air, because we just discovered that we can’t print very large temporary tattoos, so the owls may have to be broken into smaller chunks.

In general, there are lots of Our Lady of Guadalupes. They are usually found on the shoulder. There is a lot of typography that is almost indecipherable—it’s the graffiti typeface. There are some Mexican images with Aztec influence, too. There are also lots of knives, praying hands and crosses, and some pinups, which are very common in prisons. I intentionally chose the ones that look the most amateurish.

Did you design the tattoos assuming that most of the characters got them in prison?

Yes, and that’s why the best images I found are those that look the least professional. You certainly can see the difference between a real prison tattoo and something you’d get in a tattoo parlor, which looks kind of “design-y”. We tried to stay away from images that are “design-y”.

Can you talk a little about the kind of mechanism they use in prison to give tattoos?

Ah, I wouldn’t pretend to be an expert on that, and the honest answer is that I really don’t know how they do it in American prisons. I know how they make tattoos in Russian prisons. They make the device out of an electric razor. Then they insert a little reservoir of ink—that’s regular ink from a fountain pen—and basically there is a needle that goes up and down. It’s handmade. And it’s pretty rough. It’s a painful, painful procedure. Also, the prison tattoos are all black and bluish. There are no other colors in them because the ink they use is from pens.

Has Jocasta been in prison? If not, do her tattoos look different than those of the male characters?

You should probably ask Romi [Diaz, the actress playing Jocasta] if she thinks her character has ever been in the can. I don’t think she has. But while wives or companions of gang members may not go to jail themselves, they have gang tattoos that identify their allegiance. There is also a whole tradition of recording the departure of the man; either he goes to jail or he gets killed, and there are tattoos commemorating both of those. Michael [John Garcés, the director] at one point considered adding a tattoo to Jocasta once she’s been widowed—like tattooing a teardrop on her face. That may likely prove to be impractical because the show is so tight and there is no time to add a new tattoo backstage. But, we’re trying to strike a balance between this kind of verisimilitude and a more generic quality.

Do the tattoos tell stories of ethnicity or family background?

In prisons all over the world, it’s possible to “read” prison tattoos like a book. You know who an inmate is based on his or her tattoos. In this country it’s less rigid, but in Russian prisons it’s literally like reading a census. You know how many times a person’s been in jail and for what.

And the prison community—if you can call it a community—on average tends to be more religious, more prone to mysticism than the population as a whole, and perhaps less educated. Additionally, there are obviously cultural preferences that they may display. In the case of Latino gangs, there are ethnic tattoos, things like “Brown Pride.” There are many levels of Chicano symbolism in those tattoos because they kind of establish themselves, they mark themselves as members of that community, and it’s permanent. They don’t tattoo themselves for amusement or out of boredom. They mark themselves as members of a group. That’s the difference between someone tattooing “Brown Pride” across his chest in prison—or even across his face, we’re not doing that in the show, but people do that—and someone tattooing something cute on their lower back. The purpose is not amusement and aesthetics—it’s not adornment.

Do similar tattoos serve to emphasize the identity of non-gang members in the barrio?

No, the tattoos in the production are gang tattoos. The civilian in such a community doesn’t tattoo himself or herself with the words “Brown Pride.” Although the numbers I’ve heard are that the 18th Street Gang—one of the largest gangs in California—has 60,000 members. When you talk about such numbers, it’s no longer a criminal organization, it’s a social movement. We’re talking huge numbers here. Look, the purpose and the origin of a gang is for social organization. It’s not intentionally created to run prostitution rings or deal drugs. That’s what they do, but I have this amazing book of photographs of Latino street gangs, and you immediately discover that—and Luis will tell you the same thing—99% of what gang members do is hang out. You know, literally, hang out in someone’s driveway. It’s boredom. That’s what they do. They get together, and they just hang out.

~Maura Krause, Literary Assistant

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Intuition or Institution?

The more I think about Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus el Rey, the more I realize it’s actually one of the stories I live everyday. Not the specific events in Oedipus’ journey, thank goodness, but one of many underlying currents to his tale: the tension between the organized, the systemic, and the organic or the instinctual. I would be willing to bet it’s one of your stories, too. In some form or another, don’t we all struggle with the balance between the institutions that structure our lives and the little rituals that give each day meaning?

For me, in Luis’ adaptation of a story about a king’s future ruined by fate, that struggle is essentially between the codified world of el rey, a politician, and the amorphous realm of el mistico, a spiritual leader. And not a spiritual leader like a priest or a reverend in an accepted religious group, but one that performs rituals for good or ill through an undefined power. One that is even harder to pin down or explain. As I began researching the Chicano culture of Luis’ Oedipus, I started to learn about these misticos. Words that had been strange to me in the script like limpia and more importantly, curandero, became vitally important to how I understand the play.
A profession that falls under the blanket term of mistico, the word curandero comes from the verb curar, meaning to heal. It means a person who acts for the good, a healer through the will of God who can perform ceremonies meant to improve spiritual and physical health, or just offer simple herbal remedies and counsel. In Oedipus el Rey, it is the curandero who acts as the divine prophet and takes the role of the oracle in Sophocles’ play. The catch is, apparently curanderos are very close to something much darker and not so divine: brujas (witches). When I was sitting in the rehearsal room, one actor brought up the idea of a mistico of “the bad variety” and the immediate response from another actor was to name that “a brujo.” And in the play, it is owls – symbols of the bruja – that echo what is initially presented as God’s word and tell Oedipus in his prison that he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. This begs the question of where the prophecy really came from: divinity or witchcraft?

I wonder if it is this very uncertainty about the true nature of someone who professes to be a mistico that alienates el rey Laius, who rules over absolutes. Indeed, it is clear in Luis’ play that Laius only pays lip service to any kind of religion – until it becomes merciless and curses him, a very definite gesture. Oedipus too clashes with the curanderos, and the bruja of the Sphinx, when he becomes king. He refuses to differentiate between spiritual good and evil, but instead tries to destroy anything not part of his clear unambiguous system.

Yet, the wife of Laius and the mother of Oedipus, Jocasta – the only female we see in the play – offers a different perspective. She speaks of the seamless and unquestioned merging of organized religion and folk beliefs:

It’s about the old ways here. In this barrio – we still lay hands and kill chickens and go to church and do what the shaman says.

The people that Jocasta represents see no conflict between attending church and paying for curanderismo. In reading articles about Chicano religion, I found that believing in folk healing is almost always coupled with a strong commitment to church. The beneficiaries of a curandero’s services may carry tattoos of the Virgin Mary on their skin while they ask for a limpia – a cleansing that involves passing a broom, egg, herbs, something over that skin which is then burnt to ensure the dissipation of negative energy. Doesn’t this process sound like a shamanistic folk belief that would be eschewed by a practicing Christian? However, the power to heal or perform a successful limpia is claimed as a gift from God, which in the eyes of the curandero and his or her patients makes the two parts of their religious lives not antagonistic at all. What Jocasta describes, then, is a merge of the organized and the instinctual, which seems to work as long as the political rulers don’t try to impose a structure on it.

I’m not sure what this means about why Oedipus ends up the way he does, or what light the tension between system and spirituality sheds on questions of fate and cyclical decisions. Yet, the questions that arise around this topic are so central to Woolly’s production that spirituality is the dramaturgy team’s first weekly blog theme! So come back to read two more entries on the subject this week, because I can’t wait to hear from you, our eloquent audience, about what you see as the spine of Oedipus’ story. What conclusions will you draw from his clash with the mystical? Is there a balance that Oedipus and his father before him failed to find? Not only between religion and their politics, but in this greater sphere of institution versus instinct? I guess I hope so, because I’d like to find that balance in my story too.

~Maura Krause, Assistant Dramaturg and Woolly Mammoth Literary Assistant

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Talk to Me.

So I’m sitting in the window of the Woolly lobby, third performance of House of Gold, on the phone with my mom waiting for the show to get out. About 20 minutes before anyone should be walking out of the theatre, a woman comes out, goes up to our house manager and ever so politely explains that she is dissatisfied with the play. I tell my mom I’ll call her back, go over, introduce myself, and ask if maybe I can help – and so begins one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had in my time here at Woolly.

This particularly eloquent patron tells me that she’s been attending Woolly shows for a while, but she just didn’t like this one. When I ask her to elaborate, she focuses on the fact that she “didn’t get it” and felt very lost. Her first specific reference is to the scene with JonBenét and the Man, where he tells her about “his first.” She asks how old JonBenét is supposed to be, and feels that it was very inappropriate for him to use foul words and tell his six-year-old daughter about the crude way he had sex for the first time. She says that makes her uncomfortable. I admit to her that it made me a little uncomfortable too, and ask her why she thought the playwright might want the audience to feel that way. She thinks for a little bit, and says she assumes it is to make a point about father-daughter relations, but that it was still inappropriate for a young girl. Then she repeats “I just don’t get it” and I say that I think she is actually getting it fine – the inappropriateness is on purpose, and that the play does want to examine how we place expectations on children, and the bizarrely repressed way we treat them. She nods and makes sounds of assent, but returns to this question of how old JonBenét is supposed to be in this play. I ask if it helps to see age as immaterial to the play, which is dealing not with JonBenét herself but with society’s obsessive projection of her that is really unrelated to the little girl who died. She says that does help.

Flash to Sunday night – I’m at another theatre with a friend of mine who saw House of Gold last week. We’re waiting for the play to start and I’m grilling him on what he thought of Woolly’s show. “Not my cup of tea” is the opening response, but as I keep asking he finally comes out with it: “just how old was that girl supposed to be?!” I get excited and bombard him with more questions. He explains that if she’s really five, then some of the innocent moments with Jasper are lovely, but if she’s as adult as the actress or as the other characters treat her, those moments are lost. I’m not sure that I agree, and say that I love that the only person she CAN be innocent with—be herself with—is Jasper…

Back to Wednesday: I prompt our audience member to tell me more about her experience, and she starts talking about Jasper. She is stuck on his age, too, and says that in his initial scene she thought he was probably around 12, but then he creates this friendship with a six-year-old and plays her his favorite song which is “all about pussy.” She really wants to know what the point of that relationship was, and how the Richard Pryor could be appropriate, especially when JonBenét seems so child-like? And moreover, why would Jasper like that? I say that she has pinpointed one of the key things about the play: this separation between the way the children look and who they are or the way they talk. I suggest that maybe both of these kids are trying to be something else—what they want to be—because they are unhappy with what they are. Jasper is an overweight marginalized child who focuses on wanting to be a sexually powerful, aggressive black man and JonBenét is forced to be too adult too fast, so she allows herself to be very child-like around Jasper, which I said I felt was part of Kaaron’s (who plays JonBenét) portrayal. I mention the article that inspired the playwright, and I can see this makes my conversation partner think. She says she’ll go home and read the program.

Now it’s Friday night on the metro. “I read the program,” says the woman I’ve struck up a conversation with, based on overhearing her say the name “JonBenét Ramsey” to her friend. “And I still have problems with Porkchop.” I want to know more—I ask why— and she very readily explains to me that black comedians and black athletes are overdone as role models. “Why not an astronaut?” she demands. I say I honestly don’t know, because I’ve never thought about this before. I come up with the half-formed idea that the boxer is necessary for the violence to happen, but she is unappeased. “I get that,” she says, but goes back to the article she read about in the program. If that is the basis for the play, she tells me, then she thinks all the stereotypes make House of Gold “propagandistic.” I’ve never heard that word used about the play before, and I’m fascinated. I think about what this woman said all the way home, until I realize that for me, the play wouldn’t really work any other way. Everyone is a symbol, everyone is a little stereotyped because they are society distilled into caricatures. As a friend of mine said last night, the characters in House of Gold “are archetypes of people responding to JonBenét.” And so, in my head, Jasper can’t idolize a black astronaut, because he’s never seen a black person before except on TV—Jasper is doing the best he can with a limited number of options.

Wednesday, one last time. The conversation is winding down because the show is about to get out, but I have to ask, “what moment made you leave?” The patron says the autopsy scene. She says it was upsetting and that she thought JonBenét was finally dead, but then JonBenét is just sleeping, and the patron underlines that she didn’t understand the structure. I ask if it helps to think of the structure like that of a nightmare, and she says yes. She thinks about it and says “but whose nightmare?” to which I respond “whose do you think it is?” She says “it couldn’t be JonBenét’s because she is too young for this kind of nightmare” and goes on to postulate “maybe the parents’?” to which I respond with agreement. I ask if maybe the parents are symbolic of the popular imagination’s collective nightmare surrounding JonBenét—that what we come up with as theories surrounding her death, the sheer number of them and obsessive quality, might be sicker than the actual event.

Opening night, Friday again, my dad and I are talking to Kaaron. “It’s like a sermon,” my father says about the closing monologue. Kaaron is surprised by that thought, as am I. “It’s a sermon that this little girl unfortunately has to give, but doesn’t even know she’s giving,” explains my dad. I love this idea, at the same time as we all agree that the play is so hard to watch for the very fact that no little girl should have to give that kind of sermon to adults. And on the metro, the other person I’m talking to tells me that he has kids, and that the Dad scene and the Detective scene upset him because “No adult should ever need a child. Children don’t know that, but no adult should ever need advice or comfort from a kid.”

As you can tell, that conversation that began on Wednesday night hasn’t really ended yet. My understanding and my thinking about this play have been shaped by interactions with audience members who both like and dislike House of Gold. So please—talk to me. Talk to us. Whether it be in person, via email, or on the phone – tell us what you thought.

Woolly Mammoth’s mission statement begins with the call to ignite an explosive engagement between theatre artists and the community. YOU are the community—we can’t fulfill our mission without you—so I ask of every audience member that goes to see House of Gold: engage.

~Maura Krause, Literary Assistant

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