MAY QUEEN CHRONICLES: And Sometimes You Weep by Thomas Putnam
Sometime this last winter, I read a discussion about the nature of catharsis in Greek tragedy. To the Greeks, theatre can arouse feelings connected with recognized problems by presenting these on the stage, thus allowing the audience to relive them passively and, because of their non-real presentation as drama, also to resolve them. I had been aware of this, but the article focused on who the audience was at the time the Greeks were writing and performing tragedies. The Greeks were immersed in war. The writers and actors and audience were immersed in war. Theatre afforded an opportunity to help deal with the real-life horrors of war by seeing someone else live through them.
Aristotle believed that an audience's ability to feel the same emotions as those displayed by actors onstage is an integral part of the experience of watching theater, and that through this experience, audiences can learn to better regulate their emotions in real life. An audience is far more likely to have a cathartic experience if they form a strong attachment to, or identification with, the characters.
THE MAY QUEEN could by no stretch be labeled a tragedy. I believe, however, that some of the issues we are dealing with today, having lived through two years of having so much of our comfortable lives stripped away, and not knowing how to cope with the unfamiliar mental state we are left in, are very present in this play. I offer the possibility that audiences may very well experience catharsis as they connect with these characters and the problems they are working through.
Thankfully there is much humor in the play which helps us through the difficult times. The play takes place in an office, a far cry from the horrors of the war that the Greeks—or Ukranians—have to face. But in the stifling four walls of this office pod, five humans connect and disconnect and struggle and challenge and laugh...and sometimes weep.