What do you do when a play shocks you, horrifies you, makes you gasp and laugh, grabs your soul, your loins and your brain? You produce it, of course! Well, first we talked about it a lot--our artists, our board, our audiences--what was it's value, why should we do it, was it worth the risk? What drew us to the play initially? Its bold theatricality, eloquent language, colossal ideas--and unexpected titillation. We should be horrified by the Marquis' tales as told by Wright, but we find them endlessly fascinating. We hold our hands up to our eyes, but then peek through. In daily life, we suppress our animal nature, but here we are allowed to face down the beast in the safety of a darkened theatre. We experience catharsis in confronting our dark side, our fears, and the sexual and religious taboos of our culture.
This will no doubt be our most controversial production since Aunt Dan and Lemon ten years ago. That play, like Quills, focused on a charismatic person with dangerous ideas--ideas that some people felt were better off left unexpressed. But as the Marquis says, "Must we record only those phenomenon that enoble us as creatures?" Art is "culled from life and told with an eye toward truth or -- at least -- truth as life has taught me to perceive it." Those truths are, unfortunately, not always beautiful.
What do we as a society do with dangerous ideas, ones that give voice to our darkest impulses? How do we guard against inhumane acts done to silence unpopular ideas in the name of good? There's a question which requires our constant vigilance. When faced with ideas that challenge, scare or confront us, is suppression or tolerance the appropriate response? There is extreme danger in any quest to quell evil. That danger is in being blinded by our own self-righteousness. When we disavow the possiblity of our own dark side, does it inevitably rise up to haunt us? And what about when we set out to stop evil acts in the name of good (or God or democracy)? Ah, there's a topical question. Who is more evil, the suppressor or the suppressee? How do we know what we're doing is right?
Quills has been an amazing ride--it has challenged my deepest (not always liberal) assumptions about art, censorship, the responsibility of the artist and the nature of man. It's also been ghoulishly erotic and fun. I hope you concur. And so we begin. "Come, perch upon my knee, so you won't miss a word."