Much has changed since we made the decision to postpone the show last fall - lots has changed for many folks in our company over this past year - marriages, break-ups, deaths and recovery from illness and surgery - new jobs, new living situations, replete with the same old worries, anxieties...the cycle of beginnings and endings remains as true in life as it does in our show, and it's touched all of us in one way or another.
Our country is hanging in the balance, feels like the world is falling apart, and our story of what happens 120 years in the future has never felt more relevant and inevitable...to the point of wondering what does art even matter in times like these, when there's a very real threat of human extinction looming on our (maybe not very distant) horizon?
I will confess, I've felt extremely ambivalent about producing this play over the last couple months. Haven't really said anything to anyone - I'm one of the playwrights, one of the producers, one of the actors, I'm not sure anyone's prouder of this show than I am, and thus, am the last person who should be having doubts: Shakespeare's "Scottish Play" is rumored to be cursed. I was in a production of the Big M several years ago, and it was DEFINITELY cursed. Apparently, The Bard put in actual, ritual language into his play, and people say this is one of the reasons why.
A Series of Small Cataclysms has been plagued by some chaos over the past year as well, and one of my good (and woo-woo) artist friends told me to be sure to create an altar to Eris during rehearsals, to hold the space and keep boundaries. I've been thinking about it for awhile, but especially over the past month or so, when our company has had, in very quick succession, several distressing events occur. My own energy around the project has been one of, to be frank, resignment and a little dread lately: NOT the best way to start a rehearsal process.
I clamored around my house half-heartedly on Wednesday before the reading, trying to find appropriate objects for some sort of rudimentary altar. Even stopped by the supermarket beforehand, to pick up a fresh, Lady Alice Apple of Discord for Eris. As soon as I got to TPS, I set this alter up and did a small blessing by intuition, with the four elements and the apple. I felt a little foolish, but placed the altar in the center of our table nonetheless.
Pretty soon after, our first auditioner appeared for the chorus member slot we still had to fill. She came early, before the rest of the group, as her schedule didn't allow for her to stay past 6:30pm. Since no one else was there, I ended up reading from the script with her for Ralph (our new director) to see. She had a great audition, and just that bare minimum reading, for me, made me feel an energy around the work I hadn't felt in awhile. I felt it immediately, and began to relax...this is, after all, what I've dedicated most of the last 30 years of my life to. Whether or not the Seattle theatre community has chosen to embrace me, I KNOW MY SHIT.
After this early audition, the rest of our ensemble - cast AND crew, began to slowly trickle in - some of whom I hadn't seen in over a year! - and whom it was so, SO good to see. As well as one of our other auditioners. There was a BOUNTY of snacks (Ralph went a little overboard), and we had Jen (still recovering from back surgery) as well as Kristin (our PR person, in North Carolina) Skyping in remotely.
The reading itself? Totally balm on my weary soul, and I felt the rest of the ensemble tingle with electric energy as well, both during and after the read-through. It reminded me of this: we're telling the story Eris wanted us to tell about her - she's the one who crashed through that metaphorical wall of my psyche that long-ago day as I was writing, like the angel in Kushner's Angels in America, and basically inserted herself into the plot...and when the Goddess of Chaos walks in and says she's in your play, you GET OUT THE DAMN WAY and let her reveal her story.
The read-through reminded me she is on our side, in her way, and we will continue to honor her during our rehearsal process, and are telling a part of her story that men, vilifying & belittling all things female and matrilineal, buried or twisted eons ago.
Our play kicks ass. It is powerful. Our ensemble is powerful. And even if the world is headed towards a slow (or faster than we'd hoped!), inevitable end, I will still continue to love those I love and make art until I have breathed my last breath. Come experience A Series of Small Cataclysms in 2020. I think you will find it worthwhile.