Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Larry, Curly and Lepage?

Busy day yesterday - painter finished the house, brothers took me for a birthday lunch, went to see The Andersen Project again as a birthday treat from brother M., then went to the opening of DOXA - a crazy sold out show of Edge of Eden, Living with Grizzlies. And weirdly, the Andersen Project (or the experience of seeing it this time...) and the Grizzly movie both raised some similar fluffy thought bubbles above my head.

Loved seeing the Andersen Project again - such a complex piece holds up to multiple viewings. The experience this time around was really different though...the first time it was with the shiney-eyed thrill, that almost-unable-to-breath feeling I get when my brain gets overwhelmed by - hate this cliched expression, sorry - artistic genius. I knew what was coming so could focus on some of the more subtle interplay the themes and stories that Lepage weaves together. And I was with my brother, who is my #1 choice of companion for things artistic, not only because we have similar tastes but because he is both open and thoughtful enough to take what you throw at him, sift through it and appreciate it... but the major difference? The audience. For some reason, this audience found a whoooole lotta humour in this play. Granted, there are some intentionally funny moments/dialogue, and some painful/funny moments, but there is a whole lot NOT to laugh at. Isolation, loss, weakness, disappointment, failure, fear, cruelty - not a laugh-riot. So, why the laughter? My brother and I mused a bit on that afterwards. My guess is most of the laughter was from a younger set - at least, you hope that's the case, that they are just too young to be affected or have a context. Or - and more horrifying - they just don't get it. And never will. Which scares me a bit...though maybe it shouldn't, I don't know. It just seems to me that you cannot be a compassionate member of society and NOT be affected. But I could be completely wrong.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.So how does Edge of Eden: Living with Grizzlies relate? The documentary follows Charlie Russell, who lives in a remote part of Russia for half the year raising orphan grizzly cubs to be self sufficient wild bears in a wilderness area that has been designated as a wildlife sanctuary. He's been doing it for years, and his approach is one of non-confrontational understanding and compassion - his point is that a bear will only become aggressive when he needs to in order to get something he needs/wants. It isn't random, there is always a reason. In his role as "mother" to these cubs, Russell routinely puts himself in-between his cubs and other bears that may (or may not) be thinking of taking a cub out as a snack. He talks calmly, walks firmly but not aggressively, and 9 times out of 10 the other bear accepts the situation and wanders off. The trust the bears have in him extends to mother bears actually dropping their cubs off with him to 'babysit' while they wander off for a couple of hours. You can question whether what he is doing is right or wrong, futile or not, but you can't question his intentions - what he does comes from a place of incredible respect, understanding and compassion. But maybe there are those out there that wouldn't see that facet of it, that might see what he does as a ridiculous waste of time, wouldn't see the bigger social implications of the sorts of respectful, considerate relationships he is trying to develop with the world around him. I guess those people can always skip the film and go see that new Lepage comedy...I hear it's a laugh riot.

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