I have a ridiculously spotty memory for childhood. The childhood itself was a great one; I’m just terrible at recalling much of any of it. As my mother will be the first to tell you, I managed to sort of pleasantly drift through most things, all the way up to middle and high school, and trying to recapture specific moments from the time before is like grabbing at water. But I do have a handful of specific, vivid memories, and it occurred to me last night that a really surprising number of them have to do with Robin Williams.
According to IMDB, Insomnia was the last new movie of Williams’ that I ever watched. I saw him on TV a few times, and I watched some old films of his on TV, but he and I diverged pretty suddenly and without my really being aware of it until reading the news that he’d died last night. I can recall most things in my life after high school without too much trouble, and Robin Williams isn’t a part of them. But through the entire, foggy haze of my childhood memories, he is a sign-post and a marker of specific memories involving specific people and specific places and specific conversations that stand out in their vividness. He is, probably, one of the largest constants among the things I can recall about being a kid. Which means that in a small, abstract way, Robin Williams helped me experience, move on from, and hang on to my childhood. I don’t imagine that I’m the first or only person to feel that. But I’m grateful.
Gawker passes along the really painfully delightful story of what happens when a well-meaning non-professional (octagenarian, in this case), decides to help out a struggling work of art:
The restored version is apparently the work of an octogenarian neighbor of the church, who, noticing the damage to the painting, took it upon herself to restore the painting “with good intentions” but “without asking permission,” as culture councillor Juan Maria de Ojeda put it. It became clear to the amateur restorer — quickly, one imagines — that “she had gotten out of hand,” and she confessed to local authorities.
There are so many theatre-audience-talkback-workshop connections to draw here I don’t even know where to start. The easiest takeaway, obviously, is that audiences don’t always know how to fix your piece, and their ability to do so will be largely determined by 1) how much experience they have with a particular form and 2) how many of them are adding their insights. If the aspiring artist in the story had been a professional restorer, then her taking the job on in her spare time might’ve had much better results, and just been a kind act of charity. Likewise, if she had had even one accomplice, to stand over her shoulder and say “Hey you should probably use a different brush because that one is making Jesus look like a doll-eyed wookie,” well, maybe it wouldn’t have looked like that.
It’s the same with audiences and “constructive” feedback: you want to get a lot of it, and you want to get it from people you trust. There’s always the off-chance that some guy off the street will solve your play for you with one sentence of insight, but it’s also just as likely that he’ll say “Needs more clowns,” and then you write your whole restoration drama to make it somehow feature a modern-day clown transported in from the future, and before you know it you’re stuck with…hold on. I just had an awesome idea for a play.
Not a whole lot meaningful to say this Friday, so instead I’ll just share this, because it’s delightful:
I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there about building up an audience’s anticipation, and delivering with a good climax, and expectations vs. outcome, and all that, but y’know what? Those guys just set a roman candle off inside a house. And filmed it in slo-mo! What more do you need?
It still counts as Monday if it’s 10pm at night, right? Phew! I knew it!
My Sideshow Blerg post today is about…possibly less serious things than the last one. But it’s certainly there, I can tell you that much!
Please be aware that, because of the prequels, this moment is possible in spite of you, not because of you.
If it weren’t so freaking adorable, I’d be mad right now.