re: Jitney on tour, now in DC -- an excellent production (spoilers)
Last Edit: Singapore/Fling 04:05 pm EDT 10/12/19
Posted by: Singapore/Fling 04:05 pm EDT 10/12/19
In reply to: Jitney on tour, now in DC -- an excellent production (spoilers) - mikem 09:59 am EDT 10/12/19

A few thoughts:

A) Who says that we have to follow Chekhov's observation? In its own way, the expectation that all guns must be fired has become a trap that rewards subversion.

B) I think your objections actually point to the story that Wilson is telling. Throughout the play, we hear stories of men using the power of a gun to take other people's lives, and we hear about how those deaths reverberate throughout the community. In Becker, we see someone who has essentially stopped living because of his son's decision to end someone else's life, and the core drama of the play is his decision to return to life and take a stand against the powerful forces that are threatening the future of this community. In this way, having the gun never be fired is a reminder that we as human being can make a change and choose to end the cycles of violence in which we live.

At the same time, as the play says early on, "time go along and it come around, it don't never stop". Becker makes the choice to return to life, and his choice reinvigorates his community to go on living, but we don't any of us have the power to choose our fate. In the same week that Becker decides to go on living, his life is taken away by a force larger than he is, and his death in turns gives his son a reason to grow up and become the big man he couldn't be when his father was alive. Wilson's plays are full of a cosmology of gods, ghosts, and the power of the incomprehensible (expressed most vibrantly in plays like "The Piano Lesson" and "Gem of the Ocean"), and Becker's death is an example of this.

I don't disagree with you that it could maybe be cleaner, but sometimes what makes a play Great is that it refuses to be well-behaved. "Jitney" is as messy as life is, but also, I find, as deeply satisfying.

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