The Hardest Performance I’ve Ever Done

So I’ve acted for Secondary Schools Drama Festival. I’ve co-directed a play all the way to Naparima Bowl. I’ve performed in front of strangers, at schools, in auditions, and even at Queen’s Hall. Who would’ve thought that my hardest performance was one that, for the most part, I didn’t even intend to do.

Me on stage at LiveArt Bistro’s Open Mic on August 18th.
(Photo courtesy Oneka Morris)

I performed at yet another LiveArt Bistro Open Mic, and the theme for the entire affair this particular evening was identity. It was something I was completely prepared to deal with. I had a piece about my identity as an atheist, and the internal and external pressure associated with that. I also had a piece about how I viewed myself and how much that’s been difficult to deal with. Those, by the time I had gotten there, were the only two pieces I planned to do. The only problem was neither of those pieces really referred to the person that had walked on stage by the time I was called.

The piece that did, was not even really a piece. Rather, it was this horrible rap I wrote about two weeks ago. It was one of those things I indulge myself to write, very few times, that is filled to the brim with nothing but rage. The name of it is Headlines. It’s a cover of a popular rap song by Drake. I’m absolutely certain that I will get a nicely worded email asking me to make the song disappear, based not only on copyright infringement but the fact that the song’s pretty horrible.

It was one of those things I had no intention of ever really performing in front of people in my life. But it was who I was then. I still am that person now – resentful of my family, abandoned by friends and lovers, and terribly alone. He’s violent, rude, arguably suicidal, and not at all the person that people get to see. Poeple don’t want to have to deal with all that emotion or desperation. We leave people like that out in the wilderness to either man up and stop showing all that emotion or die soundlessly miles away. And it definitely feels like I’m dying…

To be honest, the first time I got on stage to do it, I had to cut it short. It was too much. I spoke about my twin brother, who I wished I had a greater relationship with. I spoke about my mother, who I hoped could just be more loving to us both. I even spoke about my ex-girlfriend, the person I hoped could be there for me when there isn’t any affection left in my life. By the time I got on stage to do it again, I was closer to tears than I thought I’d be, and I couldn’t look people in the eyes when I came off. It was one of the most draining things I’ve ever gone on a stage to say, even with me holding back as much as I do.

It was relieving in some ways to have an experience like that and finally feel seen after a performance, but I’ve also not had a moment where I felt so exposed. When I’m on stage, I’m usually a totally different person altogether. He’s angrier, louder, more political, more able. He’s usually playing a persona that’s detached from him a little, or speaking about the parts of him that he’s proud of. But not completely raw and revealing.

Not sure what to do with that just yet…


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