I want to share something with you that I was fortunate enough to have shared with me.
The nametag in this photo, the one that reads “Joe,” was not given to an audience member as they walked in through the doors, past the sunglass-wearing, iPod-listening, loud-yelling Neo-Futurists who await the initiated and uninitiated alike. Instead, it was given to an audience member who came up to me right after the show and made an unusual request for it.
She told me that she was there that evening with a group of friends, and that this past Thursday would have been the 40th birthday of their friend Joe, dead now for ten years. Joe was, she said, a longtime fan of our theater, and in honor of him she wished to be given a tag with his name on it, so that she could add it to the increasing crowd of nametags that is turning into The Giant.
Everything changes in our space. The show is never the same night to night, the audience not the same night to night, the cast not necessarily the same week to week. We start in the show as one performer and we grow into another performer. Our voice deepens and evolves, our interests diverge. We meet somebody and then we never see them again. Most of us in the ensemble now weren’t part of the ensemble when Joe died. He never saw us and we never saw him. But this space and this work were important enough to him that ten years after he died somebody who loved him once, who loves him still, asks to have his name affixed to our wall.
Eventually Joe’s name will be painted over, as will all of the nametags, and then painted over again, and again, until what began as blank wall and became dotted outline and then collage has become something new and surprising and original and beautiful and strange. Those of us who agreed to help Kirsten realize her vision have an inkling of what it will look like, but for the rest of you it will be a slow surprise, in the way almost everything is a slow surprise, in the way that we live in metaphysical momentum until we simply stop.
One day you will meet The Giant. When you look at the area around his right clavicle, know that somewhere beneath his skin is Joe.