On Monday evening, we gathered a group of people to have a discussion around some of the ideas that Ralph Lemon is exploring in his new work How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?, premiering and touring this fall.
Joined by Ralph and dramaturg Katherine Profeta (who Ralph refers to as his “advocate for the audience” in his process) we read and talked about a couple short stories which are but two parts of the amalgamation of elements floating around the work: The Hare in the Moon (as mentioned in Jorge Luis Borges The Book of Imaginary Beings) and the Uncle Remus stories The Wonderful Tar Baby Story and How Mr. Rabbit Outwitted Mr. Fox.
Like any good conversation, we ended up with more questions than answers.
Each of the stories features a rabbit whose body is “thrown”—one into the fire to gain enlightenment, and one into the briar patch for survival. So, is there a way to understand them as the same rabbit—the striving for survival the same as that toward enlightenment? Can the clever trickster be as wise as the selfless Buddhist?
The Hare’s act of giving his body to feed a supplicant is one of generosity. But it is done for spiritual reward. Does the fact that there is reward somehow lessen the act of generosity? Is enlightenment the same as generosity? Is Brer Rabbit just as enlightened as the Hare? Are the Uncle Remus stories more understandable by us, coming from a Western, and particularly American perspective—for us is struggle a crucial element of the quest for enlightenment?
The ideas of enlightenment, grace, transcendence are present throughout How Can You Stay…, but a key question is how do explore them through the body when it is impossible to achieve them physically? How can you DO something which pushes the body in that direction? How do you perform without “being” in the body?