Wednesday, September 23, 2015

haunted by the gloaming

In case you hadn't heard, I did a play in a bathroom this summer.
Once I returned to the city, I gave this bathroom a wide berth, because I spent too many hours, and had too many emotions in that bathroom to visit it again so soon.
But, I stepped in again, just to--well--use the bathroom, and I was hit by a wave of stories.
Theatres are commonly believed to be haunted. Each theatre has its resident ghost, its tales of strange, supernatural sightings or disembodied voices.

In spite of myself, I am enchanted by the romance of theatre ghosts, and find myself a skeptical believer. The work of theatre artists is surreal and magical--foolish dalliances with the divine. The work of theatre artists is half incantation and a prayer. It's something very lofty and yet something dripping sawdust.

Stories--the history of humans in that place--mark a place, and change it, transform it, in the way that I am transformed by concrete and skyscrapers and open fields and dark forest limbs. My heart bears the marks of brushes with Kolkata buses, and my personality is molded by the mountain air I've breathed in deeply.
We humans are molded by the places we have been.
And places are molded by the humans who have lived therein.

Theatres are just roiling, boiling cesspits of human stories.
Not only are they sacred spaces, where we come to bring to life again the stories of the past, they are places where persons fall in love, and fight, they steal and cheat, they turn strangers into sisters, and laugh and share themselves with one another. Although they strip the floor of paint each time the show comes to an end, the stories told upon that stage layer on top of one another, until the space is filled with an infinity of stories: from the trap room to the catwalk.
Walking into that bathroom once again, I felt the stories of the summer still hanging in the air, dusty, translucent curtains fluttering from the fluorescents. The space had been transformed by the stories that we told in it, and by our stories that transpired there.

There are stories weaving their way in and out of the bathroom stalls, that linger above the automatic faucets, the peer back at you from the lipstick-stained mirror.

Just like pieces of broken baby jar glass, there are fragments of stories stuck in corners, running over the still-sticky tile, and hiding where you least expect to find them.

This unremarkable, spartan high school bathroom was consecrated by these stories. A bit of the sacred hush of the theatre hung over the stalls and sinks and tampon vending machine. It's so silly: being a human, and having stories whose backdrops are drab environments like subway platforms and workplace kitchens, and high school bathrooms. But these are the absurd habitats of human stories: not just the majestic hush of cathedral or plush luxury Broadway theatre, but the unassuming milieux, where the stories of their denizens collect with dust and cobwebs in the corners.

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