Can’t Help But Love ‘Her’

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The average romance film is not very special. In fact, they maybe come in just three varieties; the manic pixie dream, star-crossed love or pure accident. What I’m saying is, if you’ve seen ‘Titanic’, ‘Garden State’ and any adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, you can switch to action films.

And that would be true…except you haven’t seen ‘Her’ yet… Continue reading

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The Body Barrier Chronicles – For De Pips

The gang’s back together for a second run of the play ‘Body=Barrier’. And we had an interesting conversation about what the characters were really up to, and what was their motivations for doing the things that they were up to. These things are always meaningful parts of the rehearsal process, not only because you get to hear what the actors think about the folks that they are playing, but because you get to hear how people are interacting with the character and what they receive. Most of the cast, I thought, would say that the humans in the play were interested in compensating for a Love or a longing of some sort. They didn’t.
Instead, they said that what the characters do is nothing more than an image statement.

Now, I’m not sure whether I agree with them. Angela, for instance, isn’t really that egotistic…but they’re on to something to some degree. After all, Angela has every opportunity to admit to herself that she’s not interested in the same things as her classmates, and just leave it at that. But she always finds herself wanting to go back, simply because she wants the attention of these people.
So many people around us are simply doing things for the image value of the thing – what we Trinis call ‘pips’. We don’t smoke weed because we think that it’s got spiritual value or will heighten an experience of some sort. We smoke it because it’s got some social value to us. We think it helps us have more fun, and connect to a group of people we want to connect to more. we smoke it because of the culture and community it connects us to, regardless of the fact that the community probably doesn’t benefit us in a great many ways…

It’s the same way that young people approach a lot of things in this world today, at least from what my cast and I imagine. What most people don’t realize is that the teenage years are the ones where community and association are incredibly important. In fact, how we make friends in high school determines what we think about ourselves and even who we think we are. And beyond the fact that we know that it’s not healthy, we still do most of our things to fit in with the mindless mob.

When you look at it that way, it’s very likely that everyone’s a victim, isn’t it? The bullies, cool kids, troublemakers…all the cliques you remember making your life difficult in school, they were just trying to get by in a system that is manoeuvred by a person’s social standing in the group. And we’d do anything not to have our lives made difficult. So we try to get with the cool kids, or sometimes we become bullies and troublemakers. We do what they do, and try to do it how they do it, so that we can get where they are.
Angela, the main character of ‘Body=Barrier’, is a complex character. In my heart of hearts, I think that she knows that she has no right in this place, with these people. She’s not into the things that these people are into. But the problem is, the place that she is truly supposed to be isn’t physical. So she’s…trapped there, in a sense, trying to make the best out of a place where she simply does not fit in. And, considering how the human psyche works, everyone needs community, even Angela. So she tries to find it in this place, even though it’s not what she needs. It’s about Angela feeling Loved. But, maybe more importantly, it’s about her feeling as though she’s here, and that it matters that she’s here.

I want the play to break that system playing in young kids’ minds – that they have to do things they’re not ready for or aren’t supposed to do simply because the folks in school are doing it and they seem to be having a good time. Good times don’t determine good things. Good work and good reasons do. And I want all the Angelas that see the play to find good reasons for themselves and their lives and the people they allow into them, not just ‘for de pips’.

The Body Barrier Chronicles – Faith Ain’t Straight and Narrow

Shawn Smart and I just finished ‘2 Creations’, and I must say it truly was a spiritual experience… The production tested some wills, had it’s own fair share of trials, almost made some folks sin their souls, and at the end the entire play came down to faith. We had never done a full run of the play, had no idea of some of the cues, never even had a real dress rehearsal. But at the end of the day, when the lights were on and showtime began, it was a blast.

That’s the first lesson I’ve learned from directing – have faith. Continue reading

The Body Barrier Chronicles: Faithful Play, Faithless Director

The ticket for my play '2 Creations'. If you're interested, I've got some!

The ticket for my play ‘2 Creations’. If you’re interested, I’ve got some!

When I jumped on board a project to write and direct a Christian play with a mentor and friend of mine, I knew it was going to be hard. I signed on, because it was already something I was doing as a personal project – ‘Body=Barrier’. I was excited to see whether my own writing was up for the challenge, and whether I could direct something that was not only outside my experience but was an experience that I rejected in my own life so long ago.

Turns out that’s not the problem at all… Continue reading

The Body Barrier Chronicles – What’s the Barrier?

They say is the devils themselves that make our bodies…that they does see our souls, bright and beautiful, gliding down from Heaven to touch the earth powerfully, and grab them. Snatch them up before they reach, and sew their flesh around the spirit. Yuh see, is only our soul is in God image and likeness, eh…loving and compassionate and forever, like he is. But the flesh, it doh look like him at all. Pain stays on it, and it does want death. Pleasure teases it, and it does lust after all sorts of things not good for it. The devils does put us in these vessels, make them feel every single thing, until they can’t feel their soul anymore, and they think it no longer exists. And then the flesh gets spoiled, and it rots…and takes the soul with it.

– Eutrice, a character from ‘Body = Barrier’

So, I’m writing a play called Body = Barrier. It’s not my very first play-writing stint, but it’s definitely the one I’ve taken the most seriously. Part of the reason for that is because I think it’s just a beautiful idea for a play that I would Love to be able to put on stage myself. The other reason is because the play itself is one of a long line of spiritual revelations that I’ve had over the past few months that have come out of nowhere at hit me like a ton of bricks… Continue reading

A Dream…

It’s evening. One of those regular school nights where an unemployed person like myself is torn between relishing in his ability to stay up forever or practicing getting an early night’s rest. A friend of mine, Cain*, is over at my house. I wish I could suggest a reason why, at least to myself, but with dreams you never can. I can prove that the room is mine (only slightly different than before) in the same house (where cheap 100-watt lightbulbs made the apple white walls scream sick yellow in every direction) on a date not too far from today. Nonetheless, he’s there, in my room, talking all sorts of craziness about morality and justice and the Tao while niggas are trying to sleep.

I indulge in the conversation, partially because these sorts of conversations are what I’m known for. Partially, though, I get the feeling that I’m fighting for my life in these conversations – Cain never takes a moment to agree with anything I say, and the conversation feels like antagonism the entire time. Like he doesn’t truly like me, or I don’t truly trust him. Like he not-so-secretly did something with my ex-girlfriend and I’m trying insanely hard to be okay with it while he’s moderately slapping me in the face with it. Indeed, it feels like that’s true here, as an undertone to our relationship in that moment, and I try to be a good person to a friend even though I want to destroy the guy’s voice box like I saw in one of those Ong Bak movies.

He makes the mistake of saying there’s no right or wrong. I can completely understand why these are the only words I remember being uttered. They are the verbal antithesis of me – that there is no morality, no just or right thing to do, no fair outcome, no reason to be chaste or loyal or honest or good, but that people should do and be whatever they want as long as it gets them what they want. I can feel myself struggling not to jump off my double-decker bed and slapping the fool. I also feel torn, about whether this is really Cain’s feeling about the world or if this is just a provocation. It genuinely feels like both of those things at the same time. It makes me angry, and disappointed, and sick all over. And it’s how I can imagine that what happens next makes sense…

A snake turns into the corridor that leads to my room. I’m not at all good at snakes, which is why I’m certain that the species my mind gave birth to wasn’t quite real – a rattlesnake, taller than I was and as thick as my head, dressed in the colors of the rainbow. It didn’t matter. I knew it was a killer. Not sure whether it bit or constricted, but I was absolutely sure it killed.

It skipped my brother’s room completely, even though it was the first room on the corridor. I reasoned that a snake couldn’t sense human life, but that quickly went through the window. It’s a dream, it doesn’t matter what snakes can’t do in real life. I knew that my brother was in his room, which meant the snake knew too. Maybe my image of my brother was in the dream as well – a selfish, volatile emotional vampire who always wanted a handout. Maybe I secretly wanted the snake to go in his room, but the snake was an antagonist. He wouldn’t bend to my will, he wanted to break it. Maybe there was nothing in my brother’s room for a snake. Maybe that was because he was the snake.

The creature crawled under my mother’s door. In hindsight, it was insane that a head-thick, man-long snake effortlessly slithered into my mother’s bedroom, but in the heat of the dream, anything’s possible, right? I notice by now that I’ve stopped speaking. At first I stay silent. The snake will kill my mother, I think. It worries me a little, but does not frighten me. I might have wanted the creature in her room just as badly as I wanted it in my brother’s. When I realize what’s happened, though, I scream out for her. I’m sure that I sounded like a scared little girl, but the real me knew this was just a dream. Or maybe it wasn’t. I couldn’t imagine myself being much different to the person I was then in that bed. My thoughts and feelings were all the same. I longed for the same things, missed the same people, and harbored the same anger. It was me on that bed watching that snake.

My mother responded to my dream with a simple ‘yeah’. It didn’t take me or my fear or concern seriously. I felt some resent for the fact that she would never notice my moral dilemma in calling her or how I defeated it, but I just took pleasure in her being alive. She didn’t attempt to kill it, which felt unusual. Instead, she wanted it to walk out however it had walked in. And after a few minutes it did simply crawl out of her room…and into mine.

Even though I was terrified, I was reacting with a very special coldness. I waited until there was no other decision to be made than alert others, as though there was a possibility it might do something I could defeat it with. Would it crawl into the bathroom and I could lock the door behind it? Would it stumble about blindly in my room and give me a chance to drop something heavy on its head? I sat there calmly, feeling Cain’s eyes on me the entire time. Now that the serpent was here, Cain looked at him instead. So was I. Not frightfully, but carefully. Well, not completely frightfully. I couldn’t ignore my little girls’ scream.

Anyway, the snake crawled seductively up my bed to the top bunk where I sat. I waited until it was near me to jump off. My rough plan was to have it spot me and run behind me to the door. I wasn’t going to fight a snake, just lead it back outside. The snake had it’s own plans. And so did Cain.

Cain still stood there, marveling at the beast. It marveled at him too, it seemed, as he inched closer to the man. I was instantly upset with this man being so juvenile. He knew that the snake was not safe, yet he simply refused to even put some safe distance between himself and the creature. He was determined to let the snake come upon him. So when I called for him (not much different than the call for my mother), he did not respond.

Not before the snake did.

And then, I woke up…