The true purpose of art

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Michael Walker
Contributing Writer

Art reminds people of the beauty in the world. Drama, as an art, brings beauty by rendering in tableau vivant the tragedy and comedy of life. As to the latter, having some fun at human foibles proves more than fine.

Despite expert staging, competent acting and a plot premise ostensibly ripe for pleasant repartee, this fall’s senior studio, “The Pregnant Pause,” degenerates from ingenuous humor to shameless ribaldry not befitting a Catholic university theater. Of course, Shakespeare’s plays do not always salute the savory, but one can draw a distinction between the occasional pun and an earnest effort on the part of the playwright to lead the mind down a wayward road.

“The Pregnant Pause” attempts to laugh off the fleshliness of childbirth with generational and gender dissension only to unleash a string of banalities reminiscent of “The Bird Cage” or any of Alexander Payne’s films.

Now, no one can reign in the free will of an artist, but those on a personal aesthetic quest can question whether a work that shades family life in the grotesque should be deemed an objet d’art at all. Childbirth can be giggled at in situations of incongruity. For instance, my uncle, a physician, once took a pregnancy test in medical school only for it to come back positive, about which he quipped to me 10 years later, “It’s gonna be a big one.” Further, obstetricians used to tickle babies’ feet so that the first breath they took would be one of laughter. Indeed, anything as joyous as marriage and children merits more than a smile.

But this play failed to make me do even that. Not to fault the craft but the content of the production, this serves as simply a word to the wary: Even at a “joyfully Catholic” institution, one cannot be undiscriminating in the choice of entertainment.  Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, non ars gratia artis (For the greater glory of God, not art for art’s sake).

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