a little bit of brain magic

my weekend viewing made me think about the use of magic in the arts. Not magicians with their hidden cards and rabbits waiting to pop out but stories that, while based in something very real, open up to a world of imagination and magic. In my mind there is a much longer post than the one I have time to write now. But this shorter post will have to suffice.

In Naomi Wallace’s In The Heart of America (running until Sunday 6/29 at Rep Stage) characters, alive, dead and somewhere in between, drift around each other lost and searching, struggling to come to terms with the pain and horrors caused by war and the power of love. The characters and scenes flow into each other in extremely non-realistic ways and yet because all the emotions are so based in truth, it makes sense. The show takes place in the mind and is grounded in the heart. It’s a beautiful play and well worth the trip to Columbia, MD.

Rorschach Theater has opened their summer season in exile with the world premiere of Jason Grote’s This Storm Is What We Call Progress. I fell in love with the possibilities of the script over a year ago when we decided to do a reading of it at Theater J. The world in which This Storm is based is very much the real world around us. Yet underneath the surface is all that we cannot see, a mystical magical world based in Jewish mysticism. This underworld is hard for us and the characters to get a grip on as it breaks onto the surface, but the question always remains, does it actually exist? What is real and what is not stops mattering as both affect the pile up of emotional and physical destruction.

The film The Fall exists in part in Los Angeles in the 1920s and in part in one little girl’s imagination. The beautiful fantasy sequences reminded me of the power of imagination and particularly a the power and openness of a child’s imagination. The worlds we have all created in our head, the worlds that start to close up and shrink as we learn more, as we grow cynical. Watching the movie I was reminded of my own imagined worlds and I was filled with the desire to find those places again.

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