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The Unpossessed

a Georgia Premiere
by Double Edge Theatre

VENUE : 7 Stages [WEBSITE]
ID# 1586

SHOWING : March 16, 2006 - March 26, 2006



Double Edge Theatre examines Chaos and Imagination in this experimental look at Cervantes' "Don Quixote."

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Straw Enemies
by Dedalus
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
I am a rationalist. By this, I mean to say I do not believe in the supernatural, the non-physical, the “spiritual.” I believe in the imagination. I believe it is our “evolutionary advantage,” that aspect that makes us stronger than the lion, faster than the cheetah, smarter than the microbe. So, when I read in director Stacy Klein’s program notes for “The Unpossessed” that “Hope lies beyond our frail attempt to ‘understand,’ and art is one of the few realms that deals with the world beyond this ‘understanding,’” every alarm bell in my rational sensibility took off at full volume. She also describes an “artistic dialogue” that must, by definition, be non-rational. This, in my mind, is pure heresy.

I’ve never been so wrong and so right in any prejudgment.

As background, “The Unpossessed” is a production of Massachusettes’ Double Edge Theatre, a group that lives and works together producing works of great imagination and range and power. Here, they choose the Don Quixote story to develop a piece that examines the restorative power of the imagination, even if the imagination is the product of madness, a madness as evident in the chaos of modern events as it was in the fevered mind of Don Quixote. Using music, dance, puppetry, acrobatics, and tons of ideas (I loved the image of Don Quixote making his initial entrance from a “tomb” of books), the piece attacks rationality with a passion that is missing from most mainstream productions.

This, to my mind, is the flip side if “Man of La Mancha.” That musical took a trite outside view to develop the same theme – that the mad are somehow saner than the rest of us, and that love and sentimentality can overcome the hardest rationalist. It’s effective, in its own way, and I do find a lot to like about it. But it has a very patronizing tone towards its hero – its theme can arguably be stated as “wouldn’t it be nice if we could tap into the same irrational passion that drives Don Quixote.”

“The Unpossessed,” on the other hand, takes a more urgent view. It says, in effect, “Our very survival depends on embracing the chaotic imagination of Don Quixote, and that includes the madness itself.” This is rather refreshing and can be an emotional breakthrough.

For Some.

The only flaw in this is (in my humble opinion) a “straw man” view of rationality, one that is at odds with my own view of it. It is a common “New Age-y” view that rationality is the antithesis of imagination, that a cold and realistic view of nature and reality somehow subverts our potential and our future. I believe the opposite to be true. I believe (with all my imaginative passion) that nature, that reality, is a great and wondrous playground battleground deathground birthground lifeground and imagination transcends this limited view of rationality, that imagination is in fact rationality, that imagination in fact is the only tool we have that can sift through the chaos of subatomic terrorism and tell us that that damn Schrodinger cat is alive because we want it to be that our words and our art and our desires and our hopes are themselves rational and to put imagination in conflict with the rational is to create a war where none exists and the impossible dream is every bit as rational as the political debate is every bit as rational as the terrorist delusion is every bit as rational as the artistic choice is every bit as rational as the color of desire is every bit as rational as the madness of chaos.

To prove my thesis, the seemingly mad ranting of the previous paragraph can be parsed, explained, and dissected in a very rational manner. More, it can be done in a way that enhances rather than diminishes it. Remember, “Don Quixote” itself was created by a very rational writer of a very rational time. And I challenge you to describe how its rationality lessens its artistry.

Ms. Klein, you have created a wondrous and beautiful piece of theatre. But Rationality is not your enemy. Irrationality is your real enemy.

-- Brad Rudy (



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