Re Ted Hoover's review of the CMU production of The Other Shore [Oct. 8]: I enjoyed every moment of The Other Shore. It is the most innovative thing I have seen from CMU in the five years I have been seeing productions there. Physical theater works to convey meaning in ways other than using a linear textual storyline, using movement, momentum and theatrical pictures to convey not merely one story but a thought, an emotion, a moment. Even with its minor flaws, this evening of theater was anything but "dry."
CMU has a track record of doing incredibly traditional theater. Musicals, such as Side Show and last year's Guys and Dolls, are coupled with Greek tragedies, the occasional modern play, and a healthy dose of Chekhov and Shakespeare. I applaud the department's decision to take a risk on an unconventional physical theater piece.
I do not know when Hoover saw the production; however, it was clearly not on the night when they had the talk-back with the audience. If he had been there, he would have seen a cast and crew totally exhilarated by the process they had gone through.
They said that, at first, they were confused, even frustrated. What they had always gotten in the past was, "The director tells you what to do and you do it; there was never this kind of collaboration and experimentation." They went on to say that as time went on, they began to understand this director's process and the theater piece, and ultimately felt amazing being a part of it. These lucky students experienced stepping completely outside their comfort zone. They became a true ensemble creating a work of art, not just a bunch of actors following a director.
Hoover is entitled to his opinion, and he did freely admit he is "not a big fan of Important International Theater." I would submit that this is not important because it came from another country [but] because its process, to these students in an incredibly conventional program, might as well have been from another planet. Each of these young artists will likely now approach his/her art form a little bit differently. I, for one, cannot wait to see what they create.
-- Stacy A. Donovan, Shadyside
Donovan is the theater director/head of drama department at Sewickley Academy and the artistic director of the Improbable Stage Company.