The Future Is The Past
A real pleasure of watching actors work out the meanings and intents behind an older work, in a foreign language, is that themes emerge that you didn’t expect to be there. I think that distance and hindsight from the work helps, too – the fact that the play prefigures a world that has now partially past. Some of what we imagined is true, some of it was way off.
One of the things I didn’t realize Open House is about is hypocrisy. The kind of subtle or passive hypocrisy of wanting to be involved or engaged, but not seeing the outlet, and so remaining wrapped up in smaller, more personal concerns. And then shit hits the fan and you realize you ought to have been more involved. Foresight is usually blind.
When we made Open House, I think we were trying to keep up with the rapid pace of change to New York City’s economic landscape. My friend Ben hosted one of our first shows, in TriBeCa, and on the night of the performance he found out his landlord had sold the building we were in, and he’d be looking for a new apartment, starting immediately.
Since the show was produced there in 2008, we’ve experience the economic meltdown, the transformation of Mike Bloomberg from well-intended functionary who got things done to narcissistic and recalcitrant aggressor toward the poor and non-white. The city has been through Hurricane Sandy and felt its own vulnerability more harrowingly than 9-11 did. We cannot be matter-of-fact any more.
In 2008 we were trying to ask what we could do. Now that some of what the show portended has come about, a new read on the script could amount to something like “What could you have done to prevent any of this? Could you have at least tried? How could you have done better?”