Theater is a Prank

Posted in Uncategorized on April 4th, 2012 by jerry

Jerry Mouawad, director of Imago’s upcoming “The Black Lizard”

I have always been drawn to Japanese forms.  I think I am Japanese. Wait, I’m Lebanese. At any rate, watching Kurosawa’s Seventh Samurai there’s something in the way he sweeps his chorus into action, something in the way an old peasant weeps, something in the austere fight scenes.  I feel a great affinity with to his work. Perhaps there’s a Japanese in all of us. Seems that way.  East influences West.  West influences East. It’s a wonderful circle.

Perhaps that’s why I feel an affinity to Yukio Mishima’s work.   In his wonderful sexy, mysterious piece “The Black Lizard” the playwright has become a prankster.

Prank – “a mischievous trick played on someone”

What is theater but a prank? We go to theatre and hope we are tricked, swept away into some other world, into some great story, some strange universe.  We know it’s not real and yet we succumb to it.

I’m going to make an assumption that most directors do not want the audience to know that they are pulling a prank - at least some realists do not.  Realists want to see their work as a beautiful  illusion.  (I am not criticizing realism just pointing out the difference.  As a side note, I’m a big fan of realism.) Back to the topic - realist usually don’t want to see their work as cheap or false, like a prank.

“I am a lie who always speaks the truth” Jean Cocteau

My theatre pranks are not hiding themselves. My intent is - “this is a prank, but don’t you like it?” And while I am pranking, let’s hope I find a small truth.  Only a small one is necessary, if I look for very large ones – well it becomes too grand a task.  Not the job of a cheap prankster.

In Mishima’s “The Black Lizard” I’m attempting to pull off a trick delivered to us from the East .  The lead character believes that we may all stay young and beautiful forever, an impossible dream – the prank of all prank

“The Black Lizard” opens May 11.

Contains nudity. Recommended for adults.

Click below to read about the show