*With Documentary Theatre
By Rebecca Cunningham
Guys. I have found a new love. Her name is Documentary Theatre and my cup runneth over. We’ve been together for a month and a half but it feels like a lifetime. I talk about her constantly to everyone I meet including the producer of this show – so – he asked me to write about why I love her so much.
Here’s the deal:
I have always loved documentary films. I have spent many a Friday night indoors, sans pants, with the likes of Big and Little Edie, Scientologists, and Marina Abramovic. If you took me on a date to see a halfway decent documentary, the chances of us – thirty-five years from now – telling the story of how we make our love last to a young couple would increase by a minimum of eighteen percent.
A few weeks ago, right before rehearsal, I went to see He Named Me Malala. It’s a documentary film about Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for speaking up about a girl’s right to an education.
She survives, wins the Nobel Peace Prize, then a crew follows her around to create this film.
There are a few scenes where Malala tells the story of how she got her name and how her dad built a school etc. These stories are brought to life as animated shorts with Malala as the narrator. It’s beautiful and – literally – paints a clearer picture of the story. Do you want know what – in my opinion – would’ve been even more beautiful? Actors right in front of you, on a stage, creating an experience.
When actors live out the story in front of you, we become fully immersed. We simply cannot help it. Before we started rehearsing for HOW LOVE LASTS I had no idea how Brooke was going to make these stories fit for the stage. I wasn’t sure they had enough action to constitute a play, but I was intrigued, and I wanted to be proven wrong. Boy, was I ever. I showed up to every rehearsal focusing intently on the script. Every now and again I’d lift my head up and watch these personal narratives turn into a play. It hit me. By having someone else reenact a person’s life, the moments became universal. They didn’t just belong to Jan or Bobby or Dale. They also belonged to the actor on stage, to me, to all of us. We all have the ability to make love last. Whoa. Mind blown.
But why do you need the live audience? Good question. Because YOU are essential to the story. Because you will relate to at least one moment tonight and maybe even apply it to your life one day. Because sitting back and enjoying the show is so passé. Lean in. Engage. Connect with the humans in front of you. You can’t get that kind of energy in a movie theatre no matter how beautiful the animation may be. Or in your bed watching Netflix regardless of whether or not you’re wearing pants. I promise.
Rebecca Cunningham is an NYC-based director, and the Script Wrangler for HOW LOVE LASTS. She hopes you enjoy the production and that you fall in love with documentary theatre along with her.