Monday, February 22, 2010

Resolution, Cont'd

Zev rolls his eyes at my previous post:

I think that a lot of the terms you mention theatre being about in the last paragraph imply a resolution, by their very nature. "Entertainment" seems to almost require a resolution--one of the primal points of storytelling seems to be the desire to give a narrative shape to life. Any work of narrative, even documentary, by its nature is shaped. It may not have an ending that perfectly satisfies (not all narratives are "Law & Order"), but it comes to something. To deny that primal desire seems perverse.

And if the purpose of theatre is to transport, doesn't that imply a destination? Most people taken on a trip wouldn't appreciate being kicked off the bus halfway through. If that's a conscious choice, it's one thing (some plays use that kind of dislocation very effectively), but it being negligence seems bizarre.

Now, that's not to deny that a good resolution is very hard to do well. Asking questions that are interesting through plot action is difficult enough. Resolving them in a satisfying way is rare. But simply the fact that resolutions are rarely done well seems like an insufficient reason to chuck them--plays are rarely done well, period.

Wilson Wants It All (and were you reviewing it? I'd love to read your thoughts in more depth.) is a pretty good example of a play where the ideas, the world, the staging, and the acting were all more compelling than the actual plot structure. Indeed, there were some pretty big plot and logic holes. At the time I saw it, they didn't bother me that much, but later thinking brought them out. I would still recommend the show--there's more to theatre than narrative--but that would certainly be a caveat.

So I guess my questions to you are: do you have a problem with resolutions as such, or just with poorly developed plots? And what would the art and the audience gain by not having them?


Zev Valancy said...

Ouch. I wasn't rolling my eyes, I was just responding with questions it raised for me! I swear!

I apparently have a tone problem on the internet.

Benedict Nelson said...

Haha! No offence taken I promise!