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Art Without Risk? A SpeakEasy for Rude Mechs

A SpeakEasy is an informal audience discussion facilitated by a Walker Art Center tour guide and a local performer or choreographer. Today’s edition highlights themes shared during a conversation on Saturday, January 12, about Rude Mechs’ The Method Gun. This SpeakEasy was led by tour guide Barbara Davey and local arts and culture guru from […]

A SpeakEasy is an informal audience discussion facilitated by a Walker Art Center tour guide and a local performer or choreographer. Today’s edition highlights themes shared during a conversation on Saturday, January 12, about Rude Mechs’ The Method Gun. This SpeakEasy was led by tour guide Barbara Davey and local arts and culture guru from Salon Saloon Andy Sturdevant.

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How far are you willing to go?

With often-undeterminable goals and circuitous paths, a life in the arts can be a journey involving sacrifice, abnegation, and risk. But, does the pursuit of art demand something more than the standard difficulties of economics? Does it require obsession, actively pursued discomfort, or an adherence to method that verges on malady?

The Walker’s 25th Out There series began with Rude Mechs’ The Method Gun, a performance that delves into the process of theater itself, following a fictional company left behind by their famous guru as they struggle through the process of seeing her vision through to the end. After the Saturday evening performance, a group of audience members gathered in the Walker’s balcony bar for the first SpeakEasy of 2013. Themes, interpretations, and questions shared during that conversation are highlighted on this page. Additional thoughts are welcome, using the comments feature below.

In his opening-night blog post, Andy Sturdevant brought to the fore a historical undercurrent of the play — the intentional exposure to psychic risk and personal vulnerability connected with various theater methodologies and language. According to acting teacher Lee Strasberg, “the actor acts a fiction, a dream.” Responding to imaginary stimuli, the actor is faced with the task of manufacturing emotional purity, conveyed as fiction to a waiting audience. The acting process hereby involves seeking out the root of an emotion and, from this core, returning to the surface to reveal the intensity of inner experience through a stance, a look, or a gesture. Given this challenge, how does one prepare? In this quest for the essence of an emotion, is it necessary to evoke or relive angst, trauma, or tension? Is the façade alone enough?

While risk was explored as an underlying theme, for some audience members, the weaving of vignettes skimmed a larger set of questions. Risk involves not only methods enacted, but also the risks one takes in staying or leaving. In this regard, it is not merely a matter of what one would undergo for art, but additionally what one would sacrifice to stay with a teacher.

Through dream logic and absurdity, The Method Gun brought to the fore the peculiarities of performance and preparation. Yet Rude Mechs mixed satire with homage, ending in a broad tribute to the role of teachers, whose lessons are to be cherished, burned, or reinterpreted as these past relationships are recalled anew in the present.

Join us in the balcony bar on Saturday, January 19, for a SpeakEasy on She She Pop!