"3) Each on stage item as provocation. Provoke, like the mysterious seductive one who withdraws into silence, and beckons -- like a door to another world..."
Nice image. I have always admired Foreman's images. One of the most riveting productions I have ever seen was Foreman's production of Moliere's Don Juan at the Guthrie with a title character played by John Seitz, who created an eery and disorienting character by spending the entire play walking like a crab: always at right angles, never diagonally. And Roy Brocksmith played a hilarious Sganerelle. And I have seen several of Foreman's original works as well when I lived in NYC and worked at Performing Arts Journal. In fact, after one such performance, I spent a few hours drinking with Foreman and my bosses, Bonnie Maranca and Guatum Dasgupta (George knows them -- he had the same job a few years before I did), and I found Foreman an interesting combination of charming and morose.
So I am not a Foreman basher. But my literal mind balks at #3 above. Why? A trip to the American Heritage Dictionary gives this definition of "provocation:"
|1.||the act of provoking.|
|2.||something that incites, instigates, angers, or irritates.|
|3.||Criminal Law. words or conduct leading to killing in hot passion and without deliberation.|
The word comes from the Latin meaning "a challenging."
Synonyms include: "affront, annoyance, bothering, brickbat*, casus belli, cause, challenge, dare, defy, grabber*, grievance, grounds, harassment, incentive, indignity, inducement, injury, instigation, insult, irking, justification, motivation, offense, provoking, reason, stimulus, taunt, vexation, vexing."
Flipping over to "provoke":
- To incite to anger or resentment.
- To stir to action or feeling.
- To give rise to; evoke: provoke laughter.
- To bring about deliberately; induce: provoke a fight.
Suddenly, the root of all the arguments on this blog about theatre that "provokes" becomes clear: all the provocateurs are using the word "provoke" to mean...well, what? Seduce? Tease? Coax? And here I was thinking that "provoke" means...well, what the dictionary says it means. Dopey me!
Foreman follows this statement with key #4: "Language as the impenetrable mystery." I guess it becomes particularly impenetrable and mysterious when you ignore the meanings of words and make them mean...whatever you want them to mean!