Last night was opening night for Broken Branches at the Aki Studio within Daniel Spectrum. Speaking for myself, I knew that the evening was going to have the potential to tap into some feelings regarding family trauma I have suffered while I was growing up.
For my own protection I arrived in a turtle neck sweater to hide as much of me as possible. I was there as early as I could to make sure I was the first person in the theatre so that I could claim a seat in the back corner. I grabbed a handful of tissue on the way in to the theatre which also happened to include active listeners. When it all ended after 105 minutes with no intermission I sat alone in the theatre to take a breathe and tweet the one question that the play ended with - "What would you do if I told you the truth?"
That question brings us back to the beginning of Broken Branches and the Jack Nicholson quote - "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" Let's just say I can identify with each of the three scenarios played out on that stage last night.
To the left of stage was "the artist". In high school I had been asked to complete four still life drawings. I completed only three. My teacher still gave me an "A". One time I stepped into a college life drawing class. The professor walked around the room and criticized every students drawing. When he came to mine he simply said "Great work. Next time I would like you to sit at the front of the class." I never went back. Why would I mess with natural talent?
Then at center stage was the parent that overcompensated to ensure that a similar situation couldn't occur with their children. I was not going to be like my biological mother (clearly not whom I now refer to as "Mom") pitting my children against each. other in any sick twisted scenario she could think up. Among the lesser evil of her countless misdeeds was giving me a nickname that my brother so lovingly shared with his friends at school. You see my family tree didn't just have "Broken Branches." It suffered from a rot that was infecting the whole tree including the roots.
To the right of stage you can see the anger. I had anger so bad when I left home at 13 that I became a holy terror in my junior high. These black out rages were precipitated by the other person bullying and name calling. It was so bad that the principal drove me to my foster home one day indicating that when I was ready to come back to school please do. If not. Then don't.
So, yeah. The triggers were there for me throughout the performances last night. Long before the gunshots were heard outside the theatre. Even then I tried to keep myself distant from everyone. I found a recess in the wall where I hid until such a time as the coast was clear for us to leave.
After all the kerfuffle, I made the mistake of sticking around for refreshments. During my self healing ritual at the snack table (inhaling as many chocolate biscuits as I could) I was asked if I was a perpetrator or a victim? An outsider can't make those distinctions. I'm not altogether clear and I lived it. Was my brother a victim or a perpetrator? Was my mother a victim before she was a perpetrator? Those lines are as susceptible to shading as any of the lines I have ever drawn in my sketch pad.
Broken Branches indicates that some pruning may be necessary. The fact remains that my family tree probably should have been hauled out by the roots.