The show is going so well and it makes me want to be there again and soak more of it in. It’s one of the things about theatre creation, the successes can be so fleeting, and so when they happen you really want to enjoy them as much you can. I feel like I have the most beautiful perfect lover in Bucharest, but that’s as far as it goes. I can’t go visit, I can’t do anything about it. They’re just there and I have to be content with the knowledge that they’re there, but nothing beyond that, just memories.
The superlative response in Bucharest has got me thinking about distance. The worst received production was at home in Vancouver. But was it the “worst” production? I don’t think so, not in the least.
I had people who had lived through the time tell me where I had gone wrong. Where I was totally wrong. For example the references to Led Zeppelin off the top of the show. And yet, all that is absolutely true. It seems that their awareness that I was only a baby during that time and didn’t actually live it, meant that I must have gotten some of it wrong. When in actual fact that stuff is very true, and just because I didn’t live it, doesn’t mean I can’t write it.
A similar thing would happen when we would tour SKAM shows. The nearer we were to home in Victoria, the worse the reviews were. Another way to look at it: Reviews in Toronto were almost universally stellar.
So what is this about?
In the case of the Bucharest production they are responding to the universal themes of the show – and obviously Felix’s translation must be very good – and because they are so removed from the actual realities of the show, so the audience and critics aren’t getting caught up in what is “true” or not. There’s less concern about historical accuracy and more concern with emotional accuracy. The Romanian audience doesn’t have a control group of their own memories to compare their experience with. They just get caught up in the story. The Vancouver audience who was alive in 1972 has their own experience to compare with and if it doesn’t jive with their own experience – real or not – they call foul.
There’s something else at play here too. The idea that if it’s from Away, far away, that perhaps it has more merit. This is what plays into SKAM’s better reviews in Toronto, New York and Philadelphia – for the same piece – than at home.