Holding a Mirror Up to Nature

ARCHIVED June 6, 2011

Going to the theater is nothing like going to the movies, but other than the obvious, it is often difficult to explain why. Today, I might try. On Sunday afternoon I went to see a Poetic Theater Productions piece called GOLIATH, which is being presented as part of the Planet Connections Festival. The reason I went was to offer mutual support to the show’s director, Alex Mallory, who is one of the first early adopters of Theater Connects. I had never met Alex in person, nor seen any of her work, so I was interested and excited to see what this would become.

Sunday was a theatrical experience; one I am not likely to forget anytime soon. My experience of GOLIATH reminded me in full force the power of theater in certain circumstances and the range of experiences had by each individual audience member. Now, sometimes theater (and art in general) is just bad and the whole audience is bored and in pain; nothing is perfect, it happens. To be fair, I was a little bit afraid of what would happen here, poetry has a slightly more exponential ability to be dull when it is bad. Just like listening to actors read Shakespeare who also have no idea what they are actually talking about, which leaves you confused, and yes bored.

But Sunday was not one of those days, because for me, Megan Janel Zimmer, GOLIATH was a magical transcending powerful experience. If I must admit, I was actually in tears about 10 minutes into the play, all the while thinking to myself….”seriously Megan? It just started? And your already a basket case? What?!?” It was true. [So lucky for all of you there are still 4 more performances].

Now back on topic, the reason that this show affected me so much was that it held a very harsh, accurate and well-acted mirror up to the experiences of my own life and lives of those closest to me. I saw my mother, I saw my brother, I saw my father and I even saw me. The power of the theater is that you are not voyeuristically watching someone in another world experience a story (like in the movies), but you are GOING through that experience with that other human being who standing anywhere from 12 inches to 50 ft in front of you and unless you are made of stone it affects you the same way everything that happens to you or the people around you does on a daily basis. I cannot expect that every audience member had the same experience that I did, how could they? But the fact that a mirror was held up to nature, a mere 6 ft from my chair, had me praying I did not look like a raccoon when the lights came up.

I do not write reviews, but suffice it to say, GOLIATH was beautiful. The characters were real, while speaking in a poetic ensemble that made everything they said, more powerful. The set is also made of 3 milk crates and some paper. In the discussion period afterward, I had my turn to speak and the first thing that I said was “All I keep thinking is ‘I wish I could bring my family to see this.’ Because the words spoken by “the mother”, were quite close to verbatim the words my mother also said when her son was shipped off to war and the words that weren’t, were even more powerful because I knew in my heart that those were the things she was thinking.” (I believe this is the first time I cried) My father never spoke the way this “father” did, but he certainly expected my brother to grow up, man up and shed all weakness, insanely proud of him when he enlisted. Anyway, I could go on and on, but don’t have the space, nor do I want to give away the story.

Theater holds a mirror up to nature. When it does so for you, it is one of the most powerful things you can ever hope to experience. We are not all the same, but a mirror reflecting back at one, is a portal for the other.


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