In a comment to a post, James Whyle wrote that “theatre is ritual,” and that its purpose is to remind us of the important questions. See the thread.
There have been a number of posts on Red Room over the months wondering about the purpose of art and art-making. This is an old, on-going, conversation, and no one answer is The Answer. However, my what's-true-for-me answer resonates with James Whyle’s; I need poems, paintings, plays, music to help me settle with the hard questions – sometimes that process is painful, and sometimes more like a release.
I’ve been thinking about this realm quite a bit today as I type up handwritten pages written by Spoon Jackson – poet, prisoner, co-writer of "By Heart: A Prison Conversation "– our two-person memoir that was recently accepted for publication. The material I’m typing today is about the 1988 production of “Waiting for Godot” at San Quentin – a production in which Spoon played Pozzo, and with which Beckett was deeply involved.
Spoon wrote: “Beckett believed that prisoners, particularly Lifers, shared a reality with his play that could not be captured or expanded upon under any other circumstances. This is a shared reality of nothingness, smallness, timelessness, emptiness, and the waiting for what does not happen.”
I was at the prison (sharing poetry) during those years, and watching the cast – men who had previously never seen a play, never read a script – bring their lives to their work absolutely informed my sense of important questions and the “purpose of art.”
(Spoon, Twin and JB in "Waiting for Godot." Jan Jonson, director of the Quentin production, and Beckett in Paris. Photos by Beppe Arvidsson).