We Play Ourselves

My playwright buddy / colleague, my FROLEAGUE (TM BEKAH BRUNSTETTER), Jen Silverman, has written what is so far a very gorgeous novel, about a playwright who escapes from NYC to LA after a humiliating career scandal. I say so far, because I’m literally only twenty pages in. But I had to stop and shout this quote, preserve it here, because it is so gorgeous and true. THANK YOU JEN, for articulating EXACTLY WHY I hate and love and crave and need and miss theater, its protection, its narcissism, so that I never have to. It is so spot on that maybe no one has to, ever again.

‘When I’m in a theater, I feel held. I feel simultaneously very safe and like something dangerous is about to happen, and that dangerous thing is the wall of my chest peeling back — slowly, so slowly, in time with the curtain rising. And if the play is my play, then everybody present can gather close and peer at my naked heart. And I won’t even try to guard myself, because I am being held by the architecture of the theater, by every pair of arms in the seat, and I will sit still for a time between 75 and 120 minutes, and I will be naked, and I will be invisible, and I will be entirely seen. And all of the parts of me that are ugly and lonely and horrible and sad will be the parts of me that other people hold close to themselves and find a secret resonance with, and about which they say to themselves, I know that thing too, when I’m all alone that’s how I feel too. And even if nobody says those words out loud, right then, we will be feeling the same feelings so strongly that we will forget that we aren’t of one body, one mind, one tenuous heart. And if it isn’t my play, then I will still be a part of that collective witnessing organism, still be a single cell within a warm and gazing animal. It’s the sort of feeling that becomes a constant longing. It’s the sort of longing upon which you build an entire life.”

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