Monthly Archives: June 2011

Combining Bob and Chuck

Bobrauschenbergamerica Production Dramaturg Laura Esti Miller’s note on the unique playwrighting style of Charles L. Mee and how it matches Robert Rauschenberg’s visual art:

In bobrauschenbergamerica, playwright Charles L. Mee takes us on a road trip through a collaged landscape of found art and uniquely American experiences. Mee honors Robert Rauschenberg’s work and influence with a piece that spotlights elements of the master pop artist’s style – integrating aspects of painting and collage, creating sculpture with found elements, and breathing life into everyday objects.

Robert Rauschenberg next to his piece, SOR AQUA (VENETIAN)

In 1961, Rauschenberg was invited to deliver a piece for an exhibition at the Galerie Iris Clert, for which artists were asked to create portraits of owner Iris Clert. Before the exhibition, Rauschenberg sent a telegram to the gallery that read, “This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so.” Rauschenberg believed that art is what you make of it, and abstraction is exactly what you are looking at.

Mee refers to his own plays as assemblages and collages, so he is a natural, corresponding match for undertaking a work about Rauschenberg’s life and art. Mee delights in playwriting as a public form. He posts his scripts online and as part of “the (re)making project,” invites other playmakers to “pillage the plays” and create an “entirely new piece out of the ruins.”  He says on his website, “There is no such thing as an original play. …sometimes some of us write about our own innermost lives, believing that, then, we have written something truly original and unique. But, of course, the culture writes us first, and then we write our stories.”

Charles L. Mee

Though Mee speaks of his own plays here, this is an apt description of Rauschenberg’s work, as well. “[They are] jagged, filled with sharp edges, filled with things that take sudden turns, careen into each other, smash up, veer off in sickening turns. That feels good to me. It feels like my life. It feels like the world.”

Taking a cue from Mee, the following is a quote from his own script:

Art is made in the freedom of the imagination
with no rules
it’s the only human activity like that
where it can do no one any harm
so it is possible to be completely free
and see what it may be that people think and feel
when they are completely free
in a way, what it is to be human when a human being is free
and so art lets us practice freedom
and helps us know what it is to be free
and so what it is to be human

-Laura Esti Miller, Dramaturg


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