Thursday, July 28, 2022

Two Planets

Truth be told, I’m in-between planets right now.

The planet that I’m currently living on is full of simple, sturdy things that fit my soul. I live in a world of furniture, regular paychecks, planning for vacation, making a meal, trying to schedule date night with my wife, and occasionally seeing a Mets game with my son. This planet also includes theatre – seeing plays, bitching about plays, wearing a mask to see plays, seeing friends’ work – and it includes considerable landmass devoted to the Kingdom of Playwriting, with districts for my writers’ group, my laptop computer, my mentors and teachers, my rivals and friends, procrastination, hopes and dreams, minor breakthroughs, and major resistance. This planet is home. It is everything I can see in my ordinary consciousness. I suspect that it has everything I need to live a full and satisfying life.

But there’s this other planet.

This other planet is much harder to describe because I don't live there right now and I only visit infrequently. For me, this other planet is impenetrably dark. It is not scary, it’s just that my eyes are used to a certain wavelength of light that this other planet does not provide. In fact, everything about this other planet requires a new and different state of consciousness that challenges the limitations of my familiar world. This planet proves to me that any separateness is drowned by a whole. And any whole is subsumed by all others. Any sorrow is already becoming a grin from an old joke. And any true statement is already falling apart into the letters that compose it, only to have each letter butterfly upward and become a city of new words, each more resonant than the last. This planet has plays that last for eons. The collaborators work together seamlessly, each from their own individual perspectives. Even the characters and the audience switch places to perform each other’s role. This planet stands above – or behind – the one I am currently living on. And I believe that it is as real as my current world, or more so. I suspect my life desperately depends on it.

For me, making theatre is like bringing parts of this other planet down to the one I am living on and sharing it with other people. Sometimes the atmosphere of our world crushes those artifacts into dust. But sometimes something survives the trip, and stands as a witness to a way of living beyond our mechanical routines.

As a writer and seeker, I need a community of others around me who have the courage to make this same journey. I need the wisdom of experienced guides who can help me understand each encounter. And I need a safe space to park my body every once in a while, as we let our souls wander off. For my part, I hope I can stand as a smiling witness to other artists that yes! this other planet does truly exist, in whatever unique way we understand it. I hope I can help others recognize the telltale markers of this journey, and especially advocate for the stowaways they may have brought back, unawares.

My mission is to remind us that we always have a ticket ready for the trip.