JR: This looks like a promotional poster for a particular theater company. Is that what it is? Tell me about the object: who created it? why? And, what are the words and images referring to?
CD: So, this is a picture of a painting that my friend made for me and my theater ensemble. He made the painting with 3 images from his favorite scenes of each show he was in. I’m the guy with the glasses. He used this quote because he was going through a rough time in his life cause his father passed away and he told us that we helped him get through that hard time by creating art.
JR: What do you think about that claim that creating art can help a person get through a difficult time in their life? What about engaging in art as a viewer or audience member? Do you think it, too, can provide such help? Why or why not?
CD: I agree 100% with the claim that creating art can help a person get through a difficult time because art can be in many forms. It can be a way of distracting you from the real world or it can help you create and bring to life a world of your own, it even can help you reflect on the world itself. As an audience member art provides a lot of help. The art can help one feel connected or reflective of one’s self which makes an audience member not feel alone in a way.
JR: It seems you’ve attributed to art a capacity to impact people in rather opposite ways. On the one hand, you say it can “distract you from the real word” and on the other hand you say it can help you to “reflect on the world itself.” If, in the first case, the “real world” is meant to signify our everyday, empirically lived experiences, then art seems to be understood (maybe) in terms close to those of Schopenhauer as a means of transcendence, or momentary escape from the suffering of will. (Schopenhauer, of course, would not describe this in terms of “distraction”). The latter case suggests art can function precisely to agitate us away from any temptation to escape and so to draw our focus precisely onto the reality of empirical human existence (including all of the extant injustice). How would you attempt to explain this double capacity that art has? What about art provides it with this ability to work in apparently opposite ways?
CD: I think the best way I can describe this double capacity that art has is using the show Sweat by Lynn Nottage as an example. The show is about working-class people in Pennsylvania and talks on many issues about America from NAFTA trade agreement to Layoffs in the factor jobs. The show was performed for the people who work in those factories the play describes and their responses answer this double capacity of art. They said it reflected them in their day to day life. Some said they enjoyed the world of the bar that the play takes place in which gives them an escape from the world the play is reflecting. Art has this ability to work in opposite ways because it depends on who and what they take away from it. Everyone will have a different prospective from the show which explains its opposite ways.
JR: You have a substantial background in theater (especially for your young age) and you continue to pursue education in the theatre as a student at Wooster (good for you!). Do you think that there are artistic potentialities in (live) theater that other forms of artistic expression don’t share or perhaps don’t share to the same degree? What draws you to invest so much in the work of theater production?
CD: To your first question I would use the example of comparing theater to Film. Both have acting but are very different in artistic expression. Film has a way of naturally immersing its audience in because film can create a world and film tells the audience what to see. For Theater on the other hand it’s another feeling when you see live actors you feel more part of the world the actors are creating your eyes can wonder unlike film. I feel in theater you get more emotional because you can feel the actor’s energy. For the second question it’s the type of theater that I do that makes me invest so into it. I like doing theater for social change I tend to do a lot of ethnography work when creating theater so I go out collect real life stories and portray them on stage. With my work at Albany Park Theater Project I would always say what inspires me is that I’m giving a voice to those who are unheard and everyone’s stories matter.