Sayin' a Lie
a remote collaboration with Air Lift Underground and some musings
I have been intimate with theatre for nearly four decades, both on and off stage. I was four when I first performed and ten when I first directed some random class project in which I made my fellow classmates sing an anti war song for International Children Day. Because the bureaucrats couldn’t tell if it was an anti-communist song too, there was some conversation about whether or not someone should call my mother in about it.
Years later, when I was devoting time on performance that relied on body movement and facial gesticulation as a primary source of communication, and directed productions that employed silent narratives to tell their tales, in the ensemble that I was a part of, we would lightheartedly lament how difficult it was to find a ‘talkie’ that spoke authentically to you. In the brand of performance we practiced, at least in the very beginning, the plays were unmistakably theatrical and dramatic; the audience was the meta character of each play and often we would ‘speak’ to them in little metaphysical nods without ever saying a word. And in those suspension of realities, there was only ‘play’ in the childhood sense of the word and not ‘let’s fool the audience that this is real’.
But Chicago theatre is famous for its grit. Shephard, Steppenwolf, 16” softball… (ok, the softball is more of a limited fame, but surely you’ve heard of the ‘Wolf?). But rarely, at least in the time I have been here, was this true Chicago grit alive on stage in a way that it was convincing. Lately, ‘talkies’ became harder and harder to buy into, so to speak. Even when some hot shots would do True West it went East a bit. Why was it that it was so difficult to lie on stage convincingly? The answer might seem obvious: the actors have a harder hill to climb because the audience knows they’re lying form the get go. We start from a position of knowing it’s make-belief and the play has the tall order to sweep us into its reality where the make-belief can feel true. And it’s usually the words that can trip you up. Because they often don’t match the body language. You don’t have to be some kind of trained professional to spy it out either. There’s a subliminal feeling that makes you sniff out the unauthenticity when it’s on stage.
It isn’t so in real life, is it? We start from the base of where we take everyone at face value and think people are telling the truth. In general, even the most skeptical of us, don’t go around thinking everyone is starting from a place of sus. To discern the truth requires vigilance. And the normal person who goes around taking lying people at face value, would like to think they wouldn’t fall for a lie very easily. This is why:
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
―Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”
―Augustine of Hippo
So to all the liars out there: there’s a reckoning that is a-coming. You can get ahead of it and minimize its impact by letting the truth set you free.
In the meantime, my new creative friends and I are gonna keep having fun with pointing at the emperor’s nude body. Air Lift Underground left the lyrics to this parody in a comments section of a previous post and it was just too bloody brilliant to pass up. So, we exchanged some info and I promised to find someone who can do Barry Gibb justice. I asked two people but it wasn’t on their priority list to record so I ended up giving it a whirl and sending it to my new found collaborators who worked their magic with their audio software and made me sound, well, decent! A few weeks of editing movie clips together (where I learned so many FCP skills, I’m ready for MOAR) and voila, Sayin’ a Lie is now out in the universe. I am super proud of this creative effort. It was challenging but very fun.
I know haven’t been all that serious lately, but these projects have filled my heart. The geyser of news is relentless. I do my best. We’re all doing our best. We’re exhausted, yet we keep on. We’re discouraged, yet we keep on. As of the time of this post, days before my one year substackerversary and my goal of having 1000 subscribers as a metric of whether or not I should keep up with it, I’m 165 short of that goal. But this metric seems so silly to me now. This is what is mine to do. So I keep doing it until it serves its purpose for me and for others and it’s no longer a beneficial vehicle for my voice. Thanks for being here. I sincerely appreciate it and that ain’t no lie!
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Sayin' a Lie