Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fires in the Mirror Review

A few weeks ago we read and watched Fires in the Mirror, a play written by Anna Deavere Smith. I thought the play itself was just okay, but the performance was awesome.

Anna Deavere Smith
In class, we briefly talked about how some of us didn't like the ending of the play because it doesn't give the audience hope like many other story endings do. When the play closes, there is no evidence that the two groups (the Jews and the Blacks) will get along. However at the end of the performance we saw, characters from both groups walk into the center of the theater holding lit candles. They are spread out evenly and diversely and then they all blow out the candles at the exact same time. I wonder why the director did that. Did she want the audience to think that maybe the groups would get along eventually? I really hope we get to speak with the director about these things.

I'm excited to talk about the play more in class because I really want to know exactly what everyone thought of it. I can't assume we all have the exact same opinions. One thing I really appreciated about the play was the lighting and stage design. It looked really great. And the transitions between each character's monologues was very well done; the music definitely added a lot to it. Also, the actors had incredibly convincing accents. Still, even though the performance was amazing, the play just did not really do it for me.

In The Role of Theatre Criticism, Ran Xia says that literary critics' words "can partly decide the life or death of a piece of art." I definitely agree with this. Critics provide various viewpoints for people to agree with or disagree with, which helps them form opinions of their own about something.

Here's an example: Miley Cyrus's performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards (which you can watch right here). This may not be a typical piece of art, but it is a performance nevertheless. So Miley goes out on stage after carefully planning and rehearsing and performs her set. Robin Thicke joins her, then she exits the stage as he continues to perform. No big deal, right? Wrong. The media BLEW UP. People reacted to it in many ways. Some absolutely hated it, calling her racist and inappropriate, and others believed in her vision and had no issues with Miley doing her own thing.

The point is that people agreed with or disagreed with what the critics said about the performance and because of the

Miley Cyrus at the VMA's
words they used when critiquing it. I personally agreed with this one the most:

"What it all comes down to is that America as a whole—white, black and everything else—is subject to a jolly, messy and multiracial cult of openness, informality and raunchiness. Everybody seems to find that just luscious when describing Harlem 90 years ago. More recently, we have accepted this in rap—to diss the vulgarity is considered elderly, and grumbling about white rappers like Vanilla Ice as interlopers is yesterday’s conversation; Eminem is one of the boyz. But let a little white girl spin her posterior in open-hearted celebration of the “uptown” culture she has grown up drinking in and she’s a white man corking up and playing dumb sometime during the McKinley Administration. Sorry–this is people too caught up in yesterday’s battles to perceive the nation moving ahead. I believe you, Miley Cyrus." John McWhorter, The New Republic 

To conclude, critics do play a large role in the life or death of a piece of art. I already have my own personal feelings about Fires in the Mirror; however, reading some criticisms about it or speaking with the director may alter my opinion.

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