Monthly Archives: June 2010

Postcard from Production: Claquer reflections on press opening

Elizabeth El-Hage, a member of the Gruesome Claque (said “clack”), who wrote to the blogosphere previously from the rehearsal room, sends reflections from inside the theatre: 

Before I walked into the theatre Sunday night for Press Opening, I opened a fortune cookie in the lobby. The message asked, “What power does the person you love hold over you?” The question was unexpected; I had never thought of love in those terms before on a personal level. Love is meant to be free, not a power struggle, right?  As I watched the performance that night, the question stuck with me as I witnessed Kayleen and Doug both succumb to and exact power over one another as they jockeyed to define their relationship. I considered how the more you love someone, the more power they have to hurt or heal you. Which may sound obvious, but this production revealed to me how nuanced this concept really is and how it plays out in the crevices of our daily lives. By the way Kayleen and Doug suffer through the wounds they inflict on themselves and each other, and through the wounds Kayleen’s parents inflict on her, I learned that we often may take for granted that power in a relationship. It is a power so fierce that both Kayleen and Doug are physically, mentally, and emotionally destroyed by it, each in different ways at various times over the course of the play. They are constantly working very hard to rebuild themselves just to survive.
 
I think the thing that hit me the hardest, even after having seen the play once before, is how careful we must be with the people we love. During Kayleen and Doug’s arguments, I saw so clearly how words of defense or sarcasm or careless flippancy have the power to be acutely injuring. And this power so often goes unnoticed or ignored by the injuring party. What this play does so well is shine a spotlight on those places where we injure each other at times we may not be aware of. Or maybe we are aware of them, but we are preoccupied with our own issues, or blinded by anger or previous hurts, as Kayleen and Doug demonstrate.  All of this is underscored by the intense physicality of the production. Pushing, pulling, dancing, diving, and swinging through the show, Kayleen and Doug show us that this special Power does not live in the abstract, but it is a visceral reality that takes us by the cuff and leaves us exhausted. 

[WM BLOG WARNS: SPOILER ALERT BELOW]

Though I felt like I had just been through a meat-grinder by the end of the performance, the playwright lets us know that our relationships don’t have to necessarily end this way, and that we have just as much power to heal and make whole as we do to destroy. As Kayleen and Doug reminisce about a childhood all-nighter on the playground, Kayleen notes, in the very last line of the play, that “the sky was starting to be blue.” I felt like the playwright was giving me a hope here, that each day is a clean slate, and that we can make our choices to love with a healing power rather than a destructive one. It is the thought that I took out of the theatre with me that night and one that I have tried to carry with me ever since.

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