The meaning (or not) of Tick Tack Type


What’s it all about, Alfie?

After a Friday evening of loosely organized chance in the company of Third Angle New Music Ensemble (the program included Terry Riley‘s endlessly mutable In C; California composer Mark Applebaum‘s similarly open-ended exploration of alternative musical “reading,” The Metaphysics of Notation; and Portland composer David Schiff‘s exhilaratingly jazz-charged Mountains/ Rivers, which takes inspiration from In C) we’re feeling a bit unmoored.

Since we’re in free-float anyway, this seems like a good time to check in on Imago.

One of the terrific side benefits when Jerry Mouawad develops a new show is that he thinks long and hard about what he’s doing, and then he writes about it online. Anyone who wants to take a peek can get an inside look into one of Portland’s most fertile creative minds. Mouawad, Imago’s co-founder with Carol Triffle, spills his thoughts on the company blog. The spilling isn’t always easy, because, ever aware of the virtues of theatrical suspense, Mouawad really wants to hold onto the beans.

“I assume this blog is vague since I am not divulging any of the action,” he writes about his new show, Tick Tack Type. “I apologize for this, but I am doing this for your sake (that is if you plan to see the work.) By discussing the action I am robbing you of the experience of it. What I see in an action may not be what you see. I can say this about Tick Tack Type: in many ways it’s about “seeing” or “not seeing.”

On Friday, in a post titled Finding Logic in the Non-logical, he had some intriguing things to say about the continuing evolution of Tick Tack Type:

Yesterday I blogged that I tried to dismantle any meaning when meaning began to arise in a scene in “Tick Tack Type.” I wrote that doing this was to free the play and not have it land in a didactic world. Today I will contradict my thinking saying that for every action in the play (or for most) I tried to find meaning in it.

Is this a contradiction? Yes and no. I think it’s a fine balance between an abstract work that has no means of a handle and an abstract work that resonates for audiences. I am not interested in pure abstraction; if I (were), I would imbed the work in pure movement and dance and not try to create theatre of it.

… (F)or every action I tried to find meaning yet at the same time dismantle it. … In its simplest terms, when I had a character execute an action I tried to find one level or several of dramaturgical importance.

And here, from Imago’s Web site, is what Tick Tack Type is “about”:

Five men and four women are dropped from a chute into a stark empty room to discover themselves as participants in a strange typing academy. … Mouawad’s characters search for ways to compete and survive under the rule of a tyrannical typing instructor played by artistic co-director Carol Triffle. … Mouawad has fashioned theatre without words to explore comedic and tragic drama.

Sounds logical, no? Tick Tack Type plays March 11-14 only, and tickets are free. Go to Imago’s Web site for information.