kyle cassidy (kylecassidy) wrote,
kyle cassidy

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I saw the most amazing play on Saturday. I saw it four times in a row, I cried like a baby every time and I'm still not exactly sure what happened.

The day after the Times article about the Romeo and Juliet poster hit, I got a call from Drew Petersen from Trusty Sidekick about photographing their production at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. I went up and got to photograph four rehearsals and it was one of the strangest but most beautiful experiences of my life.

A man and a woman under an umbrella come through a curtain and tell you to follow them. And you do, down a rabbit hole. You emerge in a set of large, enormous rooms really, connected by a giant hallway. In each of the rooms is an actor, maybe more, doing something, talking to themselves mostly. There's a jazz-age soundtrack coming from somewhere, though sometimes the music is replaced by a big creepy noise, like from a science fiction movie, and as if on que, all the actors get up and move. You can follow whoever you want and as you do, you start to hear some of the same things from different people, there's a story, but you just don't get it.

And then this guy shows up....

Clickenzee to confound yourself further

And he's out of place because he's wearing an old fashioned life jacket, and he's wandering around, looking very lost and alone, and people aren't paying attention to him, they're swirling around like a great flock of giddy birds, he weaves in and out. And then a torpedo hits the Lusitania and we're all on deck, and as the ship starts to sink the chaos stops, it recedes and the noise and tumalt go away and the man in the life jacket is talking to an unseen little girl. "What's going to happen," she asks him, "when I die?" and as the water rushes onto the deck of the ship he tells the most marvelous story a father could tell a little girl who asks that question when death is so real and so close and hand, and so visible: and that's the first time you cry.

And then the chaos returns and everybody's in the water, and they're floating, some of them, and they're dying, others of them, and you, you're in the water with them wondering if you're dying or if you're floating, and you don't know what's happened to the little girl, and you can hear rescue crews in the darkness trying to find survivors and everyone breaks apart again.

But this time you have more clues.

Clickenzee to Embiggen

You start to figure out who some of the people might be, and occasionally all the actors rush to the same place and they ring in the new year at a party, listening to a general give a speech, or they're at a dance, whirling with partners made of empty clothes and each time the loop goes around you again, it starts to make a little more sense. You spy actors having covert conversations and you eavesdrop more intently. Sometimes you realize it's now and other times it's decidedly not now and you start to wonder who you are through all this.

Clickenzee to Embiggen

In the end, when you realize what's happening, and what's happened, you cry like a baby again, but not really in a bad way. You're a little sad, but you're content too in the way a play probably hasn't ever made you content.

Clickenzee to Embiggen

And it was all the more amazing because I was invisible, walking through this scenery with my camera, standing before ghosts who didn't care that I followed them -- or that I was in their path, they'd walk around me, they'd go on. I think we expect often to be unseen in a maelstrom, we're anonymous during a riot, but it'e eerie when it happens during the quiet moments, when you're inches from someone. Thanks to Trusty Sidekick for letting me experience that.

You can find Trusty Sidekick Theater Company here on their Facebook Page. And you can find the Park Avenue Armory here. It's an amazing place; as majestic as elephants.

Clickenzee to Embiggen

Sadly, for you, every performance of 7 1/2 Mysteries sold out before the show opened. But Trusty Sidekick is looking for other giant, labyrinthine venues to put it on.

Clickenzee to Embiggen

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