Spectacles of Ourselves
is the title of a play that Bilal wrote this week to honor the fact that alumni John Pierson, who is currently doing a run in TML, just got his very first pair of glasses! I got my very first part of glasses in sixth grade. My glasses were not only transitional lenses (the kind that turn dark when you go out in the sun and then are supposed to turn clear again when you go inside, but they never really do, instead they stay at an uncomfortable murky brown), they were also flexons, glasses with metal frames that can bend without breaking. John’s glasses, which you can see him wear in that photo, are way, way cooler. (Because, seriously why would anyone ever need glasses that can bend?)
Now, for all you bespectacled and 20/20’s alike: here is Bilal’s play for you to enjoy!
Spectacles of Ourselves
John is sitting onstage reading. He wears his new glasses. One by one, leah, ida, bilal, and kirsten enter with a seat and a book, and position themselves on opposite sides of him.
LU: New glasses?
JP: Yes. As a matter of fact, these are the first pair of glasses I’ve ever had to own.
LU: Did you wear contacts before?
LU: Cool. Well, they look nice on you.
JP: Thanks, Leah.
LU: You don’t need to feel self-conscious, is what I’m saying. (She opens her book and begins reading.) I’m blind as fuck without mine.
JP: I never said I felt self-conscious.
IC: Nice glasses, John.
JP: Thanks, Ida.
IC: It’s a different look for you. I don’t mean a bad look. If that’s what you’re thinking. It’s just different. (She opens her book and begins reading.)
IC: I don’t mean “different” like “get away from me, you freakish misshapen ogre.” I just mean “different,” you know? (She reads.)
BD: It’s okay if you feel strange.
JP: I don’t feel strange.
BD: Glasses fundamentally change the shape of your face. And you’ve had a few decades of that face, so naturally a new pair of glasses is going to make you feel not quite like yourself. (He opens his book and begins reading.)
JP: I still feel like John.
BD: I got my first pair of glasses in second grade. Ol’ Bilal’s been dancing this dance with blindness a long time, yessirree. You’re not alone, John.
KR: I think what we’re all trying to say is that you have two options, John: You can accept that you wear glasses now or you can slowly become mired in their symbolic power as a sign of your own mortality.
JP: They’re just a pair of glasses.
KR: Yes. That’s good, John. Wake up every day repeating that.
JP: I think you’re making a wild assumption about—
KR: You’re so brave, John. Wearing your glasses onstage like this. In front of people. Isn’t he brave, guys?
LU/IC/BD: (vamp) Very brave. So brave. Absolutely. Brave.
LU: You’re a goddamn inspiration, john Pierson.
IC: A hero.
BD: You know what? I can’t do this. I can’t sit out here wearing these invisible contact lenses while John’s putting all of himself out there for the whole world to see. (He begins removing his contact lenses.) I’m not letting him do this alone.
KR: Me neither.
LU: Damn right.
They each put their glasses on and look at jp.
IC: Solidarity, John. Solidarity.
Everybody wears their glasses the rest of the show.
SEE YOU AT THE SHOW!