Speaking of Oranges
Thanks to Byron Woods for reviewing Transactors Improv's Jan. 9 performance at Manbites Dog Theater ("But Seriously, Folks," Jan 14). He made some good points and wrote some nice things. However I do take issue with a few of his statements.
Admittedly, the show he saw was pretty silly and--guilty as charged--funny. Indeed before the next night's show we discussed wanting to dig deeper into audience suggestions, and we did.
Where I think Mr. Woods erred was comparing our improvisation with scripted work. Every artist uses some improvisation and some may remain in the finished product, but comparing scripted to improvised work is comparing apples to oranges. A fair comparison would put our work next to that of other improv companies. Do that and I'd be satisfied, and I think he'd be amazed.
As for comparing what we did to what we've done in the past, I can only say that the shows vary from night to night. The actors Mr. Woods mentioned--splendid artists and people all--are, on the whole, no better improvisers than the current company members and I should know because I hired and directed them all. He should also be aware that theme-based long form doesn't lend itself to character exploration as much as the narrative or character-based forms he saw in the past.
And to use one of the oranges employed above, Mr. Woods' insistence that we do comedy instead of theater is like asserting an orange isn't a fruit, it's an orange. Our comedy is no less theater than some of the ponderous, humorless drama I've seen.
Our motto--if you laugh we're doing comedy; if you don't we're doing drama--is an invitation to audiences to respond however they please to our work. We strive to focus on process and we're amazed that people often laugh at really serious stuff. Sometimes we try too hard to be funny--or deep.
Transactors Improv employs music, movement, character, theme, storytelling, emotion, and dance, among other things, in its performances. Sounds like theater to me.
Greg Hohn, Director
Transactors Improv Co.
Tossing and Turning
Kudos on your headline reference to Milton's Paradise Lost in Jennifer Strom's revealing article on the recent history of politics and growth in a county ripe for picking ("Paradise Tossed," Jan. 7).
Permit me to remind readers that Milton's epic work begins with an invocation to God to bless his poetic argument meant to "justify the ways of God to men," and ends in sadness mitigated with hope, as Adam and Eve are sent away from the Garden of Paradise. It's the witness of a wordsmith using his media to reveal the critical truths as he sees them, and influence fellow citizens to understand truth as he does. It follows an earlier work, Areopagitica, which defends a free press.
In one work Milton seeks to prove the unprovable (one person's faith is another's folly), and in the other uphold the right to report the truth no matter what powers would prefer to stifle it for their sake. In both respects, Ms. Strom's article is quite Miltonesque. A piece as controversial as hers is sure to be panned (preferably banned) by some and hailed (even canonized) by others.
Whether one sees the article as bane or blessing, fact or fiction, it's a work not to be ignored. Whether it provides answers that are met with accolades or animosity, it must surely raise questions. Citizens of Chatham County have many critical issues to face (growth management, waste management, water management, annexation, pollution, etc.). But the ultimate issue in Chatham County has become that of TRUST of people in high places. "Paradise Tossed" speaks loudly to this key issue, and is a red flag deserving our attention. The history that the present citizens of Chatham are writing will determine if it is a flag that also deserved a pledge of allegiance.
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