Tuesday, November 8, 2011

First Friday and The Water Children

First Friday did as First Friday does, so of course, I've needed the entire weekend plus Monday to recover from the hijinx.

One different, and enjoyable thing about this past First Friday was taking the trip up to campus to see the senior thesis production of The Water Children. (NYTimes review from the original production here, playwright's notes here).

I love live theater. Most art measures the audience; a movie, a photograph, a book always functions the same way. This makes it a returnable experience in that we can watch a movie once a year (more on that in a day or two), and measure our new observations and reactions as changes in us. Theater (and for me, to a lesser extent, live music) measures the work and the performers.

I haven't seen a drama in years, probably not since I lived in North Carolina.

The Water Children's central topic is grief and guilt, focused through a lens of abortion. This abortion topic loads the debate in a certain direction. For me, abortion is a Catch-22: I've never been at a point in my life where I've wanted to have/ felt I could support a child, so at the logical level, if a girlfriend had become pregnant, how could we have kept the child?; at the same time, my personal beliefs are built around the concept of "Where there's life, there's hope," so a properly lived life demands accepting the unexpected, coping and overcoming.

I spend a lot of my free time lost in the back corners of my mind, pondering those what ifs. It's a part of why I write and what I write about: the fictionalization of life. At different points I have given a lot of myself to regret over missed opportunities and unexplored forks in the road.

That feeling, it seems to me, is what The Water Children mined most effectively. The main character's unborn child follows her through every scene (whether the child is unborn past tense or unborn future tense, or some hybrid of the two, is for the audience to decide). I've had that own feeling for most of my life: if I had spoken up, or not; if I had gone out this night, or hadn't.

It's this haunting feeling that I'm left with as my dominant impression of The Water Children, beyond the show's success and weak spots (there were a few of each for both the actors [tempo, characterization and subtext] and the script [credulity and emotional content]). Maybe it's just my reaction to a very fun night, the kind of night when the laughter just pools around you, but The Water Children made me more acutely aware of it. It made me appreciate the night a little more.

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