Quote of the Day: Will you just sit here with me? Line from Understood, written by Tyler Mills, Directed by Tyler Michaels King, Produced by Trademark Theater. That line jumped out at me, as I sat alone, listening to this powerful audio play. So often, all we really need is for someone to be there, to be present. Something about sharing space and experiences with other people enhances the quality. We are so lonely. Covid and the quarantines and lock downs have forced separation and isolation. We are desperate to connect.
Tyler Mills has modified his play Understood for an audio experience. Two actors play the four characters. Sasha Andreev plays Chris/Josh, and Adelin Phelps plays Julie/Rachel. Sound Design and editing by Katharine Horowitz. They suggest that you use headphones, and just sit and listen, in one sitting to this play. I did not use headphones, and I had a hard time just sitting still and listening. Now, I know why so many people did handiwork during the golden age of radio. I felt like I need to be doing something more, eating, drawing, cleaning, sorting, or knitting. When I listen to audio books or podcasts, I’m usually driving, bathing, walking. Why do we always feel like we have to move? But, as I got into it, I found myself out on my deck on this glorious Fall day in central Minnesota, and if felt good to be still and listen. Some of the language and emotions are hard to hear. I turned down my volume. Then, turned it up again when the voices got calmer because I didn’t want to miss what they were saying.
In this play, a young married couple are fighting. They’ve lost touch with each other. They’re angry. It feels like that low boil anger that is prevalent in our world right now. Everyone seems to be on the verge of boiling over, and they have, at times. The characters Chris and Julie are no different. They lash out at each other about things beyond their control, about beliefs that differ, about confusion over what they’re doing and how they’re expected to respond. They reach out to other people who listen, who are there for them, who offer another perspective. This play reflects the complex relationships we have with each other and what is happening in our world.
They bring up all the difficult topics, the ones that are forbidden at the Thanksgiving dinner table: politics, issues that spur your decisions and who you vote for, global climate, racism, Black Lives Matter, abortion. It was a lot to absorb in an hour and a half. I wished that someone was sitting with me to share the experience and discuss it afterwards. When I went to live performances in the cities, we had the whole car ride home to discuss our reactions to the performance. Trademark is offering platforms for discussion, so we have a place, online, to offer opinions and reactions. The content of this play will make you think, question, and spark conversation.
Here’s more info from Trademark:
Trademark Theater presents the first project of their newly announced digital season: an audio play version of the company’s 2018 interpersonal/socio-political drama Understood written by local playwright Tyler Mills. The two-person, four-character play has been updated to reflect the current cultural climate with a special focus on racism and the need to examine the white perspective, as well as the nation’s political and social divisiveness. The audio play is directed by Trademark’s Artistic Director Tyler Michaels King with sound design by Katharine Horowitz and features performances by Sasha Andreev and Adelin Phelps. The audio play will stream on Trademark’s website from October 1st through November 4th, the day after the presidential election. Pay-what-you-choose tickets ($0-$50) are now available on the Trademark Website event page.
Tune into this quality production, and, if possible, find someone who will listen with you, either in the same room, or in separate spaces, and use this play to have those difficult conversations. If you do, you might let out a little of that steam, slowly, gently, and not in an explosive moment of rage. Or, you might rage, but in a safer, contained way, with a trusted person.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What topics are hard for you to discuss in a rational, calm way?