Archives for April 2017

The Piano Teacher: Bask in its music

Megan Leitch plays a grief-stricken artist in The Piano Teacher.

The Piano Teacher is honest, smart, moving, and exquisitely performed.

Sometimes, when people write about artistic expression, they bullshit. I’m thinking about Stephen Sachs’s play Bakersfield Mist, for instance. In that script, an art expert almost has a literal orgasm as he describes painter Jackson Pollock “making love” to his canvases. That’s nonsense, a juvenile misrepresentation of the artistic process.

But Dorothy Dittrich, who wrote The Piano Teacher, knows what she’s talking about. Dittrich is a musician and composer. In her play, Erin, a concert pianist whose husband and son have died tragically, comes for lessons with Elaine because “I can’t seem to play anymore.” Erin has the technique—her significant performing career is on hold—but she’s so traumatized that she hasn’t been able to touch a piano for two years. Erin comes to Elaine because Elaine has a gentle, accommodating way with her students.

Dittrich embraces music as a medium of communication, communion, and healing, but she doesn’t reduce creative expression by turning it into magical mumbo jumbo. In direct addresses to the audience, Elaine says, “Music is a language”, “Music is all about relationships”, and, most movingly, given the context, “The broken chord acts as a container for the melody.” [Read more…]