I’m sure I’ll have more on this later, but I was pleasantly engaged in the notion of “interpretation” by the shows I saw last night, the Royal Court’s Manwatching and Jacob Wren’s Every Song I’ve Ever Written: Band Night.
Whatever else they’re doing, both shows are explicitly playing with the materiality of interpretation of some sort of source. In Manwatching, it’s a long monologue on a woman’s sexuality that’s performed by a male comedian who’s never read it before. In Wren’s piece (the first part of a quartet) it’s the result of handing off five of his songs (songs he wrote when he was young, which–he seems to acknowledge–may only have value to him) to be performed by five different bands who then talk with him about why they chose what they did.
Leaving aside any personal feelings about how successful either enterprise was, I thought the pairing was a great way to kick off the festival as they both dealt with these issues of where “art” actually exists. While both pieces rely on a previously authored text, they both exist as a result of a distinct performance, muddying the idea of “authorship” in a provocative way.