The colour of fear
There is something about seeing real people on a stage that makes a bad play more intimately, more personally offensive than any other art form – Anatole Broyard
I love stage plays.They keep me in touch with my humanity. But seeing a play on zoom did not sit so well with me, especially when I was told the actors are all in different locations. I was not so eager to see the play, but my curious side got the better of me so I took a chance on it.
My major concern was how the actors will be able to blend their roles over zoom. At least in a regular play, we know when a scene is over and another one is about to start. I just did not know what to expect, so I had little or no expectations when I decided to see this production.
A digital play
Some say fear has three purposes — to heal, to create and comfort. Did the fear we all faced, and some are still facing in different shades and degrees during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, heal us? Did it create anything? Did it comfort us in any way?
Thich Nhat Hanh a Vietnamese Buddhist monk said fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. For me, the future was my worry as the lockdown progressed in my part of the world (Nigeria) in the year 2020.
Did you ever ask yourself, what if scientists never find a cure and the lockdown goes on forever?
Fear was the main theme of this digital play put together by Red Curtains international and Os Satyros in collaboration with production companies cutting across five continents.
Spirit of resilience
The drama is set in a world going through a crisis and has been locked down for 5,555 days. The streets are all deserted. Fear, like a virus, begins to spread among humans. The characters of the play are all confronted with their worst fears.
In the midst of it all some search for hope and find it by connecting with other people who are living through their own worst fears, while their lives revolve around numbers — number of days in isolation and numbers of those infected with the virus.
As the play progress, we are made to see how humans react while facing their fears — fear of death, fear of losing loved ones, fear of forgetting who we are, fear of being perceived differently from others as in the case of racism.
Like one of the characters said in one of her lines “…not everything we face can be changed. Nothing can be changed if we do not face it. I am because we are.”
While some may choose to look on the bright side of things, like one of the characters who found her succour in books (just like I did while being lockdown), some may panic and lose their minds and life while at it. But none of these invalidates our reactions, whichever way we react are all valid.
Against all odds humans will always find a way as long as they breathe. In the play, internet facilities are not supposed to function but some stiff found a way to connect with one another through non-conventional means (iron, bottles, and radio in this case).
Tell me about resilience and a die-hard spirit, all humans possess it.
Disease, death and dying
While we all prayed for the numbers to stop increasing, the play got me asking myself, would it have mattered if only 100 people died instead of millions? After all, the numbers represented human lives. Did we stop to think how their loved ones will forever be impacted by their death? We just wanted the numbers to stop being so high regardless.
The Art of Facing Fear took me from sad to happy. I was terrified at some point, became remorseful somewhere along the line. It’s funny, haunting and terrific.
I had goosebumps when Bola Stephen-Atitebi of Tell-a-tale Nigeria one of the actors recited Maya Angelou’s and I rise in one of her lines. Segun Adefila (Crown Troupe of Nigeria) did not disappoint one bit in his role either.
The actors did put up an awesome performance. Just like one of the audience said, you could feel the love and energy they put into their roles.
In facing our fears as humans, we all take on different roles, like the characters in this digital drama. Shakespeare may have been proven right for his take about the world being a stage and that we are all actors in it (the audience also had a role in this production).
The drama was all complete theatrically with costume changes, sound, lightning/effects. The beautiful songs included were, for me, the icing on the digital cake.
The play is on for everyone to see every weekend till the end of August. If you love the theatre, give it a try. And don’t forget to share your experience with kalmaAfrik when you do, and even if you feel differently about it.