A sneak peek of Care Enough from playwright and company member Carl Atiya Swanson. Also, shout out to Unit Collective. They have a November Madness performance tonight (Wednesday, November 30th) at the Playwrights’ Center at 7:00pm. We like new plays.
If you’re going to have a role model, you could do a lot worse than Kermit the Frog. At the end of the new Muppets movie (which you should totally go see) Kermit says something that speaks to just about any artist daring to make new work, like Savage Umbrella does as company, like I am doing right now wrestling with the script for Care Enough, slated to open on June 1, 2012 at the new Nimbus space in Northeast. “We tried,” that oh-so-human felt frog says, “If we failed, then we failed together, and to me, that's not failing at all.” Then his face scrunches, and I can’t help, there in the theater, from wanting to cry and clap all at once.
It’s a beautiful thing to hear coming from a childhood symbol of hope and joy, but it is one of those terrible lessons of growing up that failing together sometimes just may not be enough.
If Care Enough has any genesis, it comes from laying on a mattress on the floor of a coldwater flat in Rome in 2003, after 3 million people marched in those streets and didn’t stop an invasion of Iraq, laying there with a beautiful woman I barely understood and couldn’t help but lose, listening to Cat Power’s “Maybe Not” and being totally lost in the world. There, that’s a place to start. It starts with failing personally and not knowing where to go. It starts with questions.
These are questions that have been growing, lingering and alternately tormenting and delighting me for the last ten years, questions around failure and hope. Very fundamentally: “Where is power?” It goes on from there. “How do we have power, and where does it come from?” “What obligations do we have with and to power?” “How do we love each other without hurting each other?” “Where is joy in grief?” “What do we owe our dead?” “When is failure not failure?” “What can we do to be free?” There, that’s a question worth asking, as the world is remembering now with the Occupations of public space across the world.
If that sounds heavy, it is. But these are also necessarily joyful questions, if you look at them the right way. It’s like Mel Brooks said, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.” Power is as ridiculous as it seems, if only we will to see it that way. Beauty is there in damage, energy in stuck situations, care in difficult moments. Enough probably isn’t enough, especially when it comes to love.
And then there’s music. Always and all the time music. Wait, they don’t love you like I love you. Wait, I don’t love me like you love me. That’s a question there.
Questions linger, moments are fleeting and tender, we work to make care last. If you come to see Care Enough, I hope you see all that in there. I do not yet know how. I do know that the Savage Umbrella way is to cherish the individual and idea, to nurture it along with the support of the group and then to build it, expand it, and make everyone involved equally a part of it. We did that with The Ravagers and we will do it again with Care Enough. In that way, our politics are personal, our moments are shared and even if there aren’t any Muppets on stage, we incite one another to the heights we can only achieve together.