(forenote: I wrote this on the ride into Chilliwack. I have actually had a most excellent day with all these fine people. But my comments still stand.)
(addendum: at the end of the weekend, I wrote a companion article: Why you should write a One Man Show. Oh, and the violet haired woman? Amazingly, as we didn’t even get off the bus in the same city… she was on the greyhound bus on the ride back. I asked her to be certain she was the same person. I then had a lovely chat with a middle-aged woman from Nanaimo.)
Why not to do a One Man Show.
I used to daydream about one day getting on a bus, and travelling to a new city (Portland sprang to mind, or any small rural town) where no one knew who I was. Of starting fresh, behaving and being an ideal me, untethered from all the prior instances of who I’d been. It wasn’t a positive daydream, persay. Just a recurring thought. I wanted to know if this new community of strangers would embrace me, or if it all would just be a lonely experience.
A test of who I am as a person, I suppose.
Coming to UVic almost fit this bill, but a good eight or nine members of my high school’s graduating class came along with me, and for those first two years as a Writing student, outside of the Theatre department, I mostly hung out with some of those same students, or people they had introduced me to. I never really integrated with my res building’s crowd.
The Phoenix Theatre Department was another close fit to the daydream, but by then, I had enough roots elsewhere on campus (and I was still engaged in the Writing degree) that I felt firmly grounded. And the lives of theatre folk revolve around forming communities and collaborations, so some of those connections happen easier, there.
The daydream – travelling to somewhere where I knew no one, and trying to start a life – arose out of fear. Everything is transitory in this world, including elementary school, high school, university. Heck, even family members move away. I felt I needed to be prepared to be able to step out, alone, and find communities, support, friends, loved ones, wherever I ended up. Because if change happened around me and I wasn’t prepared, that might just break me. No one can live completely alone.
Well, I’m travelling now on a bus to Chilliwack, to a town where I know no one, to perform a one-man-show (William Fights The World) for a few days at the UFV Directors’ Festival. And I’m realizing that if I end up deciding to attempt the Fringe circuit, I want it to be a show with two characters, because… well… while that old worry would be a great challenge for me, it’s not one I want to face. I don’t want to travel alone, to start with a blank slate in every city I come to. I don’t want to be a faceless man in the crowd. I want someone to share in these experiences with me.
And I could have had that, but I shoved it away because I didn’t feel I cared enough about her. Digression.
One of the most courageous moments in my life – if not the most courageous – was on the first day of grade 6, where I committed to starting my life fresh, to becoming a better person. In an attempt to flee from my miserable self, I had joined Late French Immersion. So when I stepped into that grade 6 classroom, it was a new school, a new class, and I knew no one.
The most courageous thing I have ever done was to scan the classroom, see one person not talking to anyone, and to sit down next to him and say hello.
It took every fibre of my backbone to do it.
He became my best friend for two years.
And I’d like to think I’ve grown from that small boy, but sometimes, like now, I could switch seats on this bus and say hello to the young woman with violet hair, sitting across from me. I could. But I don’t.
But I’m only on this bus for another hour. When I introduced myself to Sam Fenn in that classroom, it was necessary – I was to be in that class, with those students, for two years. But if I tour the Fringe circuit, I’ll only be in town for a few short days. Each town. Every city. Is that enough time to connect with people? Is that just enough time to feel miserable about letting them go and moving on?
My time at UVic is done, and much of my community, my class, are already moving on. And I feel like I have already decided that my place isn’t here, in this city, anymore, even though I’m here for at least another four months. But that old worry of a daydream comes back and…
and perhaps because my instinct is not to say hello to the gal with violet hair…
and perhaps because the idea of really connecting with people only for a day or two, and then saying goodbye, makes me sad…
and perhaps because moments seem far more worth living when they are shared…
and perhaps because, unlike in years past, I don’t want to reinvent myself, because I’m beginning to like who I am…
I think I’ll write that Fringe show so that it has someone be there with me.
– Andrew Wade
- Why you should write a One Man Show – UFV Directors’ Festival (adewade.wordpress.com)
- Welcome to Chilliwack – UFV Directors’ Festival, Day 2 (adewade.wordpress.com)