In assembling a season of plays, we definitely try to select scripts that portray a diverse and wide range of issues and styles. This has always been the case. It’s true that we offer up plays that are family-friendly, but they also run alongside plays that are most assuredly for a mature or adult pallet. This is why we put labels and warnings on those plays, so that we don’t inadvertently or accidentally offend anyone who comes to one of these plays without proper knowledge of its content.
Our theatre’s mission is this:
Believing in the power of theatre to startle the soul, ignite debate and embrace the diversity of the community in which it serves, Cygnet Theatre Company is fearlessly committed to the dissection, examination and celebration of the human story through the medium of live theatre.
The Motherf**ker with the Hat certainly fits squarely within this mission, and I can explain my thinking in selecting it.
This play has and will “ignite debate,” it surely delves into the diversity of our community and is an excellent example of the examination and celebration of the human spirit.
There is a prevalence of profanity, violence, drug use in our society. I don’t even have to watch actual television shows for this: it’s in the commercials for them! And while it is true that profanity is a strong way to express a weak mind, in a way, ironically, I feel that presenting this play illuminates the kind of people who rely on this kind of language to express themselves. These characters are people who are, for the most part, trying to clean themselves up, trying to create better lives and fighting to leave behind those habits and addictions that keep them from achieving that. Once the language of these characters is not the issue, the play presents some of the most beautifully rendered characters I have come across in a contemporary play. There is a reason that this script is one of the most frequently produced plays at regional theatre across the country, including last season’s production at the South Coast Repertory Theatre in Orange County. By presenting this show we don’t feel we are contributing to the desensitization of America to the issues, but quite the contrary: this play shines a harsh spotlight on the problems in this country that we’d rather turn our backs from and not acknowledge.
The title of this play boldly announces what kind of language may be in this play, and that is good, but it doesn’t indicate how simple and honest the story under that title can be. Judging it from the title alone does the play and the playwright a disservice. These characters lack the ability to express their emotions. They depend on this kind of profanity to protect themselves from being emotionally hurt by each other and, although it’s pretty profane, under that language beats the frightened hearts of a couple who are deeply in love with each other, hope for a better future for themselves and are constantly trying to overcome the many addictions they have and the emotional scars that come along with them. In the end, this play is a celebration of a deeply strong love that fights to conquer those obstacles and gives the couple hope.
We will continue to offer plays that you will be happy to bring your family to and are happy that you do. We will also continue to present plays that are more stimulating of discussion, like this one, as part of who we are and what we do. (For the record, my mother has no problem with us doing this play!) Art is something that most definitely can entertain, but art also is a means into seeing the world from another’s perspective, witnessing how other humans get through lives that are different from our own, and ultimately celebrating what we have in common and not just our differences.
- Sean Murray, Artistic Director