Tuesday, March 01, 2005
So, I was sitting in the student union building today, which is a malodorous, stuffy, overheated, overserviced hovel that is rarely cleaned and is chock-full of homeless people ever since our government decided it would be a real good idea to kick them all off welfare.
Believe it or not, I spend a lot of time there. It's one of the only places on campus where you can obtain cheap food and the ability to eat it without the Library Gestapo beating you to death with their bayonets, have the noise at a mere dull roar (and quieter than that in the early mornings and evenings), sit on comfy if somewhat dirty furniture, get a table and study and eat at the same time (one of my favourite forms of multi-tasking!), run into people you know and talk to them if you want to and hide behind a couch if you don't, obtain cheap and strong coffee almost all day, drink as much bubble tea as you can afford (which at $3.50 a pop is more expensive than a hit of meth downtown, not that I would know) and basically do whatever you want (including, in the case of the homeless people, eat from the garbage cans).
This morning after my class I was out of stuff to read (had finished A Complicated Kindness, which was so sad it made me cry on the bus. How embarrassing!), so I started working on memorizing my pieces in the Firefly script, which are supposed to be memorized by Saturday, a seriously intimidating task. If I know anything about theatre productions, this first request to memorize is one which most people won't follow through with, and therefore if I do it I'll be slightly ahead of the game. So in the interest of staying on top of things, I started to read through the intro, one of the group poems, and then the pretty nasty piece about the guy with AIDS.
I was halfway through reading it when this young woman pushing a stroller with a little girl in tow walked up to the couches and sat beside me. I looked up briefly at the girl -- she was tiny, maybe three years old, and blond, with beautiful blue eyes and a really sweet little voice. She talked like a little cartoon squirrel, and pranced around the room like a fairy. I smiled at her and looked back at my piece, but all of a sudden I was really disturbed. This is a monologue about a man with AIDS who rapes an eight-year-old girl who he compares to a fairy because she has a little voice and skips whimsically through the forest. She continues singing as he rapes her and he becomes possessed by her song, unable to get it out of his mind until his dying moments. And here I was reading these words in my head with this little girl beside me, and all at once I simply couldn't go on.
I had to get out of the building and into the fresh air, and when I finally did I stood there gasping, trying to figure out exactly what it was that had me so rattled. The thing is that this piece I'm working on is not comdemnatory. It doesn't really vilify the man or state explicitly that what he is doing is very deeply perverse. It simply tells it like it is. The message is not "look how evil people are," but rather "look what poverty, illness, ignorance, and desperation can reduce us to." But does that somehow mean that when faced with a desperate situation, I would be capable of hurting that little blond girl, the picture of complete innocence? Frankly, it was too horrible a thought for me to consider for very long, so I didn't.
I just tried to consider how I could possibly present this piece in a tactful and moving way to my audience, which will likely include my aunt who watched her best friend die of AIDS, and perhaps, scarily, some children as well.
Why the fuck do I keep saddling myself with impossibly challenging projects??
"We need someone to rebuild the Great Wall of China using only silly putty. Are you available?" SURE!
"We're looking for someone to stand in front of an unteathered wild grizzly bear so we can take a picture."
OOH, COUNT ME IN!
Argh! I wish people gave more credit to actors. It's not an easy business, and I'm certainly not in it because I think i'll look pretty onstage.
As usual, there's much more to write about, but my tale has exhausted itself in the telling. I can't remember who it was who said that, but don't give me credit for it. Nor can I remember who said "the hottest corners of hell are reserved for those who in a crisis remain neutral." I only remember that I like the quote.
p.s. am I an idiot because it really bugs me when people claim to be 'random,' and 'weird,' when in actual fact they are perfectly ordinary human beings with no major abnormalities at all? Why not just claim to be 'funny,' or 'cute,' or something?