“No Sympathy for Crying Man”, Performance

Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, Vilnius, Lithuania
August 19, 2016

No Sympathy for Crying Man considers empathy and apathy in the face of suffering. The work investigates how individuals ignore human suffering and environmental decay by focusing on personal hardship, and daily concerns, or alternatively, preoccupy themselves with the planet and humanity’s destruction to distract from personal problems. The piece likens global climate change to the climate change within the individual.

The piece begins with a voiceover monologue by the director, presenting patterns of thought that are later explored by main character, the figure of the “Crying Man,” In the work he is represented by the director, two men and one boy. The man seeks his his forgotten roots and lost connections with family. To find some reason for such a detachment he turns to scientific theories, memories of childhood. Detached and divided he travels in his subconscious looking for shelter to hide from his ignorance and fair.

The performance emphasises every day routines and the inability to fix unpleasant every day situations or global problems knowing where it eventually will lead. Following scene is directly connected with leading one screening it on a back wall. Nothing is hidden but it’s not helping to avoid upcoming tragedy of a protagonist.

The theme of detachment reoccurs in the piece through the use of a screen. Scenes are shot in the performance space itself and projected on the screen during the performance. The performers engage, ignore, and bear witness to the events on the screen. In this way performers are connected to the action but they remain detached, removed from the action. This creates the feeling that time moves to and fro through the performance.

The performance intentionally does not use any significant scenography. Onstage we see the screen, a chair, a remote-controlled car, a scroll of industrial paper on which the words “Man Falls Down” are written, and the vase full of a black tar-like liquid, the actors. All are exposed in a empty stage, emphasising loneliness and misery of character in the play.

No Sympathy for Crying Man is a slow moving performance, lasting approximately 50 minutes. It requires minimal load-in. It is performed in English, and it suited to being performed with subtitles and is performed by two adult men and a boy. It premiered in August in 2016 at the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre in Vilnius.

Director, concept, production design: Inga Aleknaviciute
Dramaturg: Naomi Boyce
Composer, performer: Robert M. Johanson
Performers: Per Magnus Barlaug, Simonas Apšega