Foreman directs avant-garde, 'Pearls for Pigs'

by Shialing Kwa | 11/20/97 6:00am

"If it's easy to explain, it's not worth doing," says Richard Foreman, the writer, director, set, costume and sound designer of "Pearls for Pigs."

The play is about theater itself. More specifically, "Pearls for Pigs" centers on hatred and ambivalence for theater. When the main character Maestro (played by David Patrick Kelly who some might recognize from the movie "The Crow") first speaks, he tells the audience that he hates all of the actors in this play. The clown Pierrot (Peter Jacobs) proceeds to say that he doesn't hate the actors; he hates the play.

In the program notes, Foreman explains why the character Maestro hates the theater: "And what he hates it for is the way in which it suppresses the possibility that impulse-- human impulse-- might be allowed to disrupt the performance."

"Pearls for Pigs" is impulsive and dynamic; there is constant change and constant confusion because the play is self-contained. There are the physical barriers of strings hung between the audience and the stage, but a psychological barrier exists as well.

Foreman encourages his actors to be ruthless and elitist; they are not obliged to clue in the audience. He wants theater that is neither boring nor obvious, and those two words definitely cannot describe

"Pearls for Pigs." The linear narrative that audiences have come to expect, and often to demand, is absent from this play.

However, there is not an "anything goes" attitude, either. Though Foreman is interested in "defying definition," he believes that there is clarity in his play because of its careful organization. "Lucidity is my overriding concern." Foreman scribbles (and draws) in a notebook, then examines pages and finds that some themes appear again and again.

Foreman compares watching one of his plays to a workout in the gym.

You have to work hard, but it's good for you and you feel better afterwards. Whereas he uses the analogy of handing someone a rich dessert on a silver platter to describe the experience of watching mainstream theater.

For a true mental workout that will ultimately reward you with at least the experience of having seen energetic, fresh theater, see "Pearls for Pigs."