Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mike's Incredible Indian Adventure, Portland Center Stage, (Grade B)

Written & Performed by Mike Schlitt
Directed by Nancy Keystone (Mike's wife)

sez says: What an interesting and honest story Mike tells about his life and his quest (or might that be his mania) to be "a great artist" (whatever that might be) -- or, as Mike says, to have the opportunity to sell out. With no intermission this 80 minute, multi-media dialogue flies by and entertains.

But here is the rub:  It is of the genre of self revelation. It is in line with all of the stories that have proliferated in the last decade that wind around a plot that "tells-all"  ---  "I really did this"  and how bad (or stupid) I feel about it.  Or the theme of "This happened to me" and I survived.  Or the "Aren't you shocked by my truth" stories.  Most of that genre has grown stale and ends with an audience walking away stunned and/or celebrating the human capacity to overcome, or just wondering "why should we care."  And then we forget the whole thing the next day.  Most of this genre fades away quickly because it is too personal and it fails to find the universal that makes a work of art meaningful and lasting.   "Mike's Great Adventure.." might have jumped the divide by expanding on themes that are universal that sat right in front of him. But he misses the mark. He emphasizes a point during which he says "the whole story is told" when he could have--but he didn't--tell the truth.  But a bigger truth comes out when you ask why he couldn't tell the truth--and that is a story about self delusion.

Self delusion is a dangerous and ever so prevalent aspect of life. What allowed Mike to believe his tawdry production was art?  We need only to ask how and why he--AND WE--know so little about India--or anywhere else for that matter.  Is it not because we believe WE must be the center of all stories? Is it not our national as well as out personal arrogance that is blocking us?  For instance when we see Mike in a TV interview calling India "small and weak" -- that is not just a personal embarrassment -- it is a cultural and ideological stance that is an apt demonstration of our self delusion at a larger scale. Self delusion--at a personal level --and at an national scale--keeps us from being able to speak truths that are lost in the mist of our delusions.

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