My Perspective – “August: Osage County”

Tracy Letts August: Osage County

For the last couple of months, I have been working on the theatric production of the play “August: Osage County” written by Tracy Letts.  During an active production, there is hardly any time for anything else other than working towards the show live date. There are always things to do – designing, build sets, procurement, prop design & create, light, sounds, manage teams.  But now we are live with the production since last weekend. I see the results of the extensive hours put in building and fine tuning the sets and props. It has paid off well. Last weekend shows were remarkable, the audience loved them and I am looking forward to more such returns.

So now, I have some time to contemplate on the crux of this production, the script itself.

When I first heard about the play and read the script, the title seemed quite straightforward and befitting the story. The play is about a dysfunctional family. The play is set in the plains of Oklahoma. During one sweltering summer, an unfortunate crisis brings the three sisters back home to their rancorous mother. The plot revolves around these four, their significant others and kith and kin of the family. The script brilliantly weaves an intricate story bringing out the complex natures and traits of all the characters. There are horrendous secrets from the past and there are scuzzy doings of the present. There are seemingly innocuous advices coupled with wit and exploits. There are truckloads of dark emotions spilling all over. There is anger, resentment, betrayal and malice. It is uncanny to see how truth in raw form can be harrowing.

As I reflect now, not everything is as insalubrious as they seem. Among all these dire emotions, we also see a wee bit of love, care and lucidity thriving with whatever little they can hold on to.

Also, the portrayal of all the female characters (Mother Matriarch – Violet, Her Sister – Mattie Fae, Her three daughters, Maid) is worth mentioning in a positive light. Albeit each female character is distinct and has no overlapping personality, each one of them preserves their individuality. Each one of them is strong in their own way and stand up for what they believe in. Some are outright open about their stance and some open up taking a stance at least by the end of the story.

But what really catches my attention now is the title itself.  In this powerful play Tracy Letts has created shocks, surprises, wits and delights while writing about labyrinthine human nature and a moving subject. I doubt he would have chosen a direct and plain title for the play. I find no compelling argument to attribute the summer heat of Osage County to such a play. The more I think about it , the more I feel justified to conclude that Tracy might be playing with words here.

Do I see him nodding in agreement while I decipher the title and read in-between lines: There is nothing August about this family in “August: Osage County”.


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