LETTER: Theater is art and it should challenge
To the Editor:
Regarding the letters of Charles Wolff published May 25 and Louie Hauser June 1, I feel a response must be made.
Theater is an ancient art form designed to make us laugh, cry, rejoice, despise, inspire, destroy, and any other verb one can imagine. It is not meant — and never has been — to be a rote recitation of the values or mores inherent to one group of individuals. It is not a mere civic event. Art is meant to get under one's skin.
The Area Community Theatre is not a family theater; it is a community theater aspiring to present work for all community members, not a specific group. The best way to ensure a play holds to your expectations is, in the worst case scenario, to research it — today's telephones offer us the collective knowledge of the known universe so it isn't difficult — and in the best case to watch it and stay strong in your convictions. If nothing else, it should reaffirm your established convictions. It is not an existential threat to your morality unless you make it so.
Gratuitous profanity is offensive and is meant to be. The English lexicon is rife with double entendre, vulgarity, profanity and obscenity. These are some of the elements that set English apart from a large portion of other world languages. To say that language presents such an unbreakable barrier to a play's "redeeming value" is small-minded at best.
Theater needs to inspire questions regardless of the virtues or discord presented. ACT has done its best to satisfy all of the theater-going public in the Mitchell area. I have had many aesthetic opinions differing from them (at times, severe); still, I commend the group for its existence and its aspirational function. Art has always had this function regardless of its medium. Anyone unwilling to remain open to other viewpoints, opinions and expressions should, regretfully, stay home.
James C. Van Oort
Past ACT Board of Directors Member
MFA Candidate, Minnesota State University, Mankato