– 14 February 2016 –
Looking back from a momentary high – because they’re all momentary, the highs, the lows, no matter how we cling or try to – and maybe that’s the seminal question, if one doesn’t try to cling, could the good moments expand of their own volition? But I digress, and I’ve barely begun. I’ll try again.
I’m thinking character-driven, here, and pulling from my own experience. Not my own story – I’ll likely never write a play about the sister who was my inspiration and lodestar, or the dysfunction or brilliance of my childhood – but my own experience. WARNING: while it’s all couched, there is an aspect of the confessional here.
For a period of years, without meaning to, I offered a weak person the inspiration to evil, so that he could feel strong. I had no idea he was so weak, or even weak at all, so, boy did I not see it coming. Every chance he was given to redeem himself, he forsook. And I finally realized that if I remained anywhere near his orbit, even in the effort to redeem my damaged reputation – because we all blame the victim, whether we think we do or not – I’d never get my own work done or life lived.
As I write this, the parallels to battered women’s situations jump out in high relief. While this person never touched a hair on my head, I still can’t be in a room with him without cringing. The half-life of lies he spread about me still has purchase, tho I work diligently to keep my eyes on my prize, my life, my work, my love, my mandate.
Some time ago I set an intention, did my research, and put a foot out on the first step of a journey away from that situation. The adventures have been surprising, amazing, sometimes disheartening, but my choice to move away from a whole lot of investment, personal, physical, financial, gave me a life which is anything but boring.
I offer you this story as a prompt. Write a play about a character who rises above the everyday societally embedded misogyny and other prejudices, the American tendency still to blame the victim and tear down those who strive to rise above. Start the play not knowing where that character will go let their experiences surprise you mightily.
In your play, instead of retelling and re-embedding the ways we are broken, use your work to move us, to move society forward.
UPDATE 28 October 2016: I’m still struggling with the PTSD from this experience. Still. I’m a stronger, better person, kinder, more rigorous and exacting. And still suffering from nightmares and lack of concentration. Please help me repair the world by being mindful of the stories you’re telling, how you’re telling them, and what effect they may have.