The Winnipeg Fringe Festival has come and gone. For a week the city of Winnipeg was the setting for an ongoing myriad of plays all at about thirty different venues. An absolute dream for lovers of theatre.
What my writing concerns today isn’t so much the festival itself (though I do love it of course) but rather what thoughts were fueled by my attendance of a particular production.
My thoughts were set into motion by a play called ’33, a Kabarett by Bremner Duthie who is its creator and sole performer. Set during the rise of fascism in Germany during the 1930s, Duthie plays the lone survivor of an entire troupe of cabaret performers . Haunted and escalating towards madness, the survivor and former cabaret MC (played by Duthie) relives his friends’ best performances. Heartbreaking and sometimes unsettling, it was utterly captivating. Duthie's talent and presence are unforgettable.
When a play is done well, I believe that there are no truer words than “All the world’s a stage.” A good play draws you in and the theatre doesn’t feel as cavernous as it did before and you find yourself leaning closer towards the stage, and maybe your mouth is hanging slightly open in silent wonder. You are completely seduced. There is nothing but that stage. This was one such play. It was well done.
I'm no philosopher, but I probably believe in the importance of the Arts more than most things. I believe that the Arts are what define the human experience because its existence is so strange and unnecessary and that’s where I feel its beauty is found. Singing, dancing, painting, writing, are not necessary to our survival. Theatre is certainly not necessary to our biological perpetuation as a species, nor is cabaret, really. But for some reason it matters that the ghosts of those cabaret performers keep on living their bawdy acts and that theatre exists because there is nothing more human than the expression of our perceptions and experiences by way of the Muses.
And ’33, a Kabarett and its presentation are a great manifestation of all of these ideas, I believe. The play and its performer poked and prodded its audience and I was happy for it because to stop questioning, to stop considering the “what” and “why” we are or to imagine an existence without free would be a terrible and dangerous thing.