As The World Turns
February 9, 2012 7:15PM
Shannon is driving a gold colored 1990 Honda Civic (they like to call Goldie) down Denny avenue in bumper to bumper traffic. She and Adam have just come from Catherine Cabeen's introduction to the Bill T Jones documentary A Good Man at Northwest Film Forum on Capitol Hill.
Shannon is slightly anxious from the previous experience of struggling to find parking and having a verbal altercation with someone in another vehicle.
[earlier: Shannon "you want to get off my ass and your fucking cell phone?" She feels duped by the easy seduction of road rage and doesn't tell adam about the fight.]
She fears they will either be late for the On The Boards performance of Mariano Pensotti's Past is a Grotesque Animal or so early they will have to make awkward pre-show conversation. This is a common feeling for her.
Adam too, is experiencing some anxiety as well, but his is exaggerated by his fear of their vehicle being in an accident.
Shannon: I read the description for the show, I'm very excited about it.
Adam: Me too.
Adam thinks about this for a while and realizes he has no idea what the show's about. He agreed hastily to blog about the show for the On The Boards website. He does this often. His non-profit wage won't afford him the flexible income required to attend too many performances.
Adam: I actually don't know what the show's about.
Shannon is excited about sharing her enthusiasm for what she's read about the show, but is hesitant to spoil the show for him. She tactfully steers clear around a stopped vehicle in front of them as well as this conundrum.
Shannon: Want to know what's its about or do you want to be surprised?
Adam enjoys a good surprise.
Adam: Don't tell anything.
February 9, 2012 7:35PM
Goldie Honda has been maneuvered into a parking space several blocks from On the Boards. Shannon has locked her door as Adam runs his credit card through the parking meter, purchasing the 25 minutes of parking they need before the meters change over to free. He's grateful that they didn't have to spring for the bank parking that costs them $7.
Adam: This isn't so far way.
Shannon is concentrated on getting to the venue and begins walking up the block toward the venue. Adam catches up to her, grabs her hand. Even though he's held it hundreds of times, he finds the feeling of her skin comforting.
Shannon: What time is it?
Shannon: Not Bad
February 9, 2012 7:45PM
Adam and Shannon have found themselves sitting in front of some friends they didn't expect to see, it's a good friend that doesn't cause Shannon to feel awkward. She's thankful for this moment and feels good even though her friend is telling her a tragic story.
February 9, 2012 8:05
The lights go down, the large wooden circular platform on the stage begins to turn revealing it's four quadrants, and the sound of unamplified electric guitar noodling streams down the stage towards the audience as the scene is revealed degree by degree. The narration starts. The scene happens and is described simultaneously. The narrator, a voyeur and documentarian, invisible to the scene's participants, passes the microphone and walks into the adjacent room to begin performing the next scene, narrated by a character from the previous scene.
Adam immediately gets a funny feeling, this reminds him of something he saw in 2008, a film called Historias Extraordinarias. He remembers the title well, but not director’s name. In fact since he didn’t pick up a program, he has no way to verify or deny the instinct he has that this work is in fact the work of the same author. He thinks about the stage and how the stories unravel like a reel of celluloid whose images fall onto the floor. He thinks about novels, and oral histories. About how in that film elephantine histories stretched out and momentarily crossed paths with each other over the course of four hours. He knows that this play is just two, but he longs for more. He thinks that pleasure of watching Historias extraordinarias, about the sheer magnitude of the multiple narratives that propelled his interest and the work forward. The stage in front of him is a live with the same momentum, the same energy. In both works the narrator’s omniscience, whose voice rings out with the contractual knowingness of an author inventing his characters as he writes, is immediately recognized as a literary device imported directly from the domain of the novel. And while he thinks to himself, this is a one-trick pony, the voice-over never seems to get gimmicky (not to mention that the narrator at key moments hands narrative duties over to other characters, sometimes peripheral, sometimes hidden). It's a remarkably similar experience and he wants to talk about it the entire time.
Shannon is feeling frustrated with her Spanish comprehension and concedes to reading subtitles to her left. She tries to do this with one eye so she can take in all the nuances of the performance in front of her, unsuccessfully. She has the feeling her attention will need to warm up to do this well but eventually finds a good rhythm of listening, referencing subtitles, looking at the scene, referencing the subtitles again. She thinks about time, about what it means to be told how long the show is and that there is no intermission in a show about time. She wonders how her focus will hold up. She is already very charmed, head racing to make associations and come up with clever things to say about the play. She notices this and tries to stop. Just watch, she tells herself and tries to let her thoughts go. The performers are incredible. This is indisputable. She watches with deep satisfaction as they push beyond what seems humanly possible, their faces flushing and the small traces of fatigue beginning to appear. . . like an emotion from one character/scene carrying over into a different character in an unconnected scene.
She loses the expectation that there is some big "meet-up" of all the overlaying stories, realizing that the meet-up is the real time experience of the live performance. Time disappears and then in unexpected moments heaves itself upon her all at once. Moving boxes are stacking up on either side of the stage as the wheel winds these tales that never climax and never resolve.
The banality of life turns (literally turns) into the absurdity of life turns into the fragility of life turns into the banality of life.
February 10, 2012 8:45AM
Adam is typing his thoughts from the night before onto a computer at the kitchen table. He spends many mornings at this very table reading the days news. Today he has no time for that. He has no time for now. He only has time to reflect, to write, to re-write, to compose his thoughts, and try to find out if this is indeed from the same mastermind.
Adam: I think I found it. I think the playwright wrote a piece about the connection.
Shannon: Oh yeah! Did you have to translate it?
Adam: I did…
Adam begins to realize that the article is written by someone else. It’s actually an interview, but the author, who is based in Argentina, just like the director of the play, also makes this connection. Adam is glad to realize he’s not alone, but is frustrated by the fact that he can’t read Spanish, that he must read this awkward translation of the interview. He closes the window on his computer screen and begins typing, and typing and typing.
February 10, 2012 10:45AM
Adam and Shannon pass the text he’s written back and forth, creating a dialog on the page as the one they saw on the stage. Tomorrow they’ll work on something else and this experience, like Historias Extraordinarias will fade into the background, to be recalled at a later point when another work of art draws on another work of art.