Sunday, April 5, 2015

According to Hoyle

No, this is actually not going to be about Edmond Hoyle (1672–1769) the writer best known for his works on the rules and play of card games.  This is rather about an actor by the name of Dan Hoyle and his rules.

Dan Hoyle, as well as being an actor is also a playwright based in New York City.  He has won awards for his one-man shows, which he takes to theaters across the country from New York to San Francisco.  He also has done tours of the Universities and it seemed to me that his ruminations were often aimed at a young audience still into the Philosophy of Life.   He stopped at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe for the second year in a row with a new piece about his philosophy and observations.

Dan Hoyle came to his art naturally.  His father was from Yorkshire and an actor.  Dan was born in 1980 in Malta where his father was playing in the film “Popeye”.  Dan graduated from Northwestern with degrees in Theater and History.  He has a keen interest in people and obviously a great deal of empathy.  Even when he is dealing with red neck prejudiced Americans as he demonstrates in his play “The Real Americans” where as the New York Times said, “it brings into contact two worlds that usually prefer to stay apart: the liberal achingly hip, moral-relativism of gentrified city life and the conservative absolutist and often hostile populism that Hoyle found overflowing in small-town America.”… “Frequently grateful for their hospitality, often perplexed by their beliefs, he sought to see the world through their eyes and understand their anger.”

This empathy was brought home again in “Each and Every Thing”, the show he recently presented in Santa Fe.  He interviewed people, as he said, “out of his comfort zone” such as the drug dealers in the neighborhood telling them he would like to include them in his one-man play.  One asked whether it would be a musical because he loved musicals!  He then portrays these characters using their accents and mannerisms, not to mock them but to that take the viewer into their milieu. A recurrent character was Protim, his best friend from India, and in effect his guru. Following Protim’s advice he traveled to India and in a final scene he took us into a Calcutta teahouse to meet people who had clearly become his friends and shared their outlook on life.

In this show he made a case that we are too hooked up to our electronic media and cell phones and miss out on human interaction.  Though my wife and many would agree with him, I do not.  There was a wonderful bookstore in New York for artists and art historians called Wittenborn.   It was a great meeting place and salon though Mr. Wittenborn would yell through the small second story shop on a typical Saturday afternoon, “This is not a library!” and shoo students out who he felt were just using his books for their homework.  This was in the 1960’s and not too long afterwards stores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders not only had seating areas but also coffee bars.  We have the same at our wonderful local bookshop here in Santa Fe, Collected Works.  They found that the longer they could keep the customer the more apt he or she was going to buy something and if not this time, the next.

Personally, I believe the same is true with social media.  First of all, through a site like Face Book we are in touch with many people that we might never dream of phoning.  Then often we become comfortable enough through written contact to pick up the phone.   I know one story where a small child using her cell phone at the dinner table was chastised by a parent.  Only to explain that she was playing a game with her aunt sitting across from her!  I think all interaction is good.  I have a friend with whom I discuss history and politics in email regularly.  Then we get together for lunch or dinner to delve deeper into these subjects.

In some cases social media becomes the icebreaker or actual introduction to an individual.    After one of my Missives an artist, art historian and teacher got in touch with me because we had gone to the same school for art history in London a decade apart.  We had an on and off conversation on Face Book until she announced that she was coming to paint and lecture at Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O’Keeffe had a second home near her house in Abiquiu.  My Facebook came down through Santa Fe and we could finally have our first face to face conversation over lunch.

Of course, like everything in life moderation is important.  There always comes a point to put down the email as there is a point at which to put down the phone.  Messages left that outrun the time on the tape do not help anyone!  A date can also go on too long, we used to have a guest at our New Year’s Open House which was scheduled from 2-6 pm who we would still find in our house at 9 or 10pm.  There is the concept of too much of a good thing!

I like the fact that a performance like Dan Hoyle’s can get one to think about the philosophy of life even if one is of a certain age!!

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