How It Begins

At what point did you embrace adulthood? Have you embraced it? And, if you have, is that concession to time a kind of death? Isn’t the Freudian “reality principle” (wherein we recognize that time applies to each of us, on parallel but separate courses) really just a death trip? Creation 2011, directed by Sarah Krasnow, and developed by the ensemble, is now playing at The Yale Cabaret, and, as the date in the title shows, it’s a show that marks a certain point in time. The cast successively climb up on a little stage, with a mic and the kind of chair kids are typically set upon to recite their lessons, to regale us and Daniel Putnam, a sympathetic and earnest inquisitor dressed as one of Robin’s Merry Green Men—actually the costume reminded me of Pixanne (and if you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you)—about the passions of their childhood. Passions which involve the urge to sing.

For Sarah Krasnow, it began with The Little Mermaid. Her show-starting rendition of the song, complete with wavering, off-key but heartfelt high notes, is funny, endearing, and telling. As she sings about desperately wanting to be “part of that world,” we hear a childish longing that aims beyond Ariel’s desire to live on land to something no child can quite fathom—the world of adulthood. In the context of YSD we might say “that world” is show-biz, theater, the desire to have one’s talents appreciated. All these factors play across the rippling surface of the song.

The inquisitor is a bit more probing toward Ilya Khodosh who gives us a young boy’s animated version of “Don Quixote de la Mancha,” and Khodosh becomes defensive, as if not willing to relinquish the talismanic nature of the song. Indeed, all the speakers/singers try to assert some sense in which they are still the child who loved a song they wouldn’t be caught dead (except in a play like this) singing now.

The play is best at leaving its intentions unstated. Entertained by these performers’ efforts to show us their formative selves, we do want to defend their desires, but at the same time, lurking in the background, is the kind of American Idol sensibility in which desire doesn’t necessarily add up to accomplishment and success. What if we had to vote on them?

The most contentious of the speakers, Anne Seiwerath, denies at first that the misshapen pot on the table was her own youthful effort—one that “the person who made it” thought a great accomplishment at the time. Her effort is to see that art, real art, isn’t easy, and that that’s the whole point. Her slideshow presentation on “vanitas” has all the suppressed emotion of a school report—the adult effort to use objective language to mask a deep fear of the subject matter.

The finale of the show is Inka Gudjonsdottir’s delightful performance of an Edith Piaf song, a song she loved to sing as a child, although she did not understand French, because of an intense emotional response she had to the song. She reveals that she was adopted and later learned a surprising fact about her birth father, a fact that would seem to indicate that, sometimes at least, performance does allow one to discover an otherwise unsuspected truth.

Creation 2011 invites us to consider not only where we first encountered the passions that fuel our lives, but also whether or not we still want to be “part of that world.”

Creation 2011 Inspired by Massimo Furlan’s 1973, at the 2010 Avignon Festival Directed by Sarah Krasnow; written by the ensemble October 27-29, 2011 The Yale Cabaret