Monday, September 15, 2014


There is a saying in New Age circles that is best illustrated thusly:

(Artwork by me.  Please, hold your applause.)

I went outside my comfort zone because:
  • My sister is an actor; and I want to support her career and the avant-garde theatre group she works with.
  • My father (the biological one) invited me to see her play with him and it seemed like a good opportunity to spend some time together.
  • Speaking of "some time", this play is four hours long.  Yes, FOUR HOURS.  (Including two intermissions, so I suppose technically that makes it 3.5 hours long.  Still.  That's a lot of play for your dollar.  Who can resist value like that?)
  • I wanted to experience "the magic".
I'm not a theatre buff.  I prefer to experience cultural events at a remove, so that if it's too loud I can turn the volume down.  Or, in the case of a festival, I can leave when I feel I've had enough.  Being stuck in a small audience for several hours does feel a tad claustrophobic.  However, so long as I'm sitting on an aisle I'm fairly content.

Well, this play...  How can I describe it?  It's a well-known Shakespeare play, re-made to explore the most violent, horrible aspects of the plot.  The subtitle should be "Everyone dies".  Right from the get-go, there was an abundance of unrestrained shrieking, sobbing, and full-contact (thumping, crashing) fights.  This, in combination with random creepy images projected onto the mostly-white set, was unnerving.

For sure, it was a great play.  The staging was creative.  The acting was convincing.  The plot kept my interest.  There were moments of much-needed comic relief.  At one level, I truly enjoyed it.

At another level, (the sensitive flower level), I found it challenging.  Every scream, even the ones I could kind of see coming, made me jump in my seat.  The fights got my adrenaline pumping.  At a visceral level, I didn't feel safe.  I kept having to remind myself that it was just a play, and that everyone was fine.  I was fine.  My Dad was sitting right beside me.  That creepy, howling old lady was actually my sister. 

If the play had been half as long, I probably could have endured it.  Unfortunately, just before the second intermission there was a surprise self-harm scene complete with (fake) blood, and that was it for me.  I realized that I needed to get out and get some air or I was going to faint right off my chair.  Somewhere in between the onset of cold sweats and actual loss of consciousness, I managed to slip out as quietly as possible.  Thank heaven I was on the aisle.

I staggered through the lobby and out the front door, where it was blessedly cool.  I sat on the front stoop with my head between my knees for quite some time.  At one point I sensed a presence, and looked up right into the impassive eyes of a large dog.  The man on the other end of the leash wanted to get into the building.  He said "Oh, is it as bad as all that?" to me, but I was only able to weakly smile at him and put my head back down.  Then I felt the dog's body jostle against mine as they squeezed past me through the door.

Fortunately, second intermission came right at the time I felt well enough to stand.  Also fortunately, my father felt that he had had enough of the play (even with his hearing aids helping he was having trouble understanding some of the dialogue), so we left.  By then I was in such a mood of wanting to tough it out to the bitter end that I would have tried to stay, but that was a bad idea.  I wasn't thinking clearly.  It was for the best that we called it a night.

It's very frustrating to be sensitive.  I truly would have liked to stay to the end, if I could have controlled my lizard-brain's anxiety reflex.  The upper layers of my brain were fascinated by the political machinations and powerful imagery.  Darn it, lizard-brain.  Why won't you trust me?


DarcKnyt said...

I'm sorry, I cannot hold my applause. (Insert standing ovation here.) That is a BRILLIANT representation of the meme.

On the other hand, I'm so sorry your delicate nature was pounded. I know it was tough not to be able to offer the sort of support you wanted. But not all things are for all people, unfortunately.

On the other hand, you did your best, and that says quite a lot about your character and person. I salute you for the effort. You're wonderful.

Lynn said...

That's pretty long for a play - not sure if I could have stuck that out without alcohol. :)

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Yay for the effort. That social/being out and about can be stressful so you get bonus points for that.

Jenski said...

Glad you made it to fresh air!! Sometimes challenging arts need to be in small doses.

Vanessa T said...

I LOVE your colorful artwork and applaud it! :)

I think you did well to tough it out as long as you did. That's pretty long to sit through for anything, and a lot to ask of an audience. I'm sure your sister's performance was wonderful and I hope she appreciated your and your father's supportiveness. :)

We all have our limits, and you went to the length of yours for your sister, and that says a lot about you. You're awesome, Spark. *hugs*

Ginny said...

I went to a play once that was "interactive". It took place in an old school that wasn't used and you were free to walk around and explore and you would come upon scenes. Everyone who was not in the play wore white masks with beak like noses and you couldn't speak. It was a modern macbeth. One poor girl got pushed out of the elevator onto the second floor by herself (it was very dark and creepy). I go into one room and it's lined with bathtubs. I look in the tubs and there are snakes. I'm like wow those look pretty real and then realized the were real!! There was also fake blood that went everywhere in one scene and at some point one of the actors grabbed me to be in a scene. Anyways that was probably the most intense play I'd ever been too.