Sunday, May 30, 2010

#5. Boston Actors Theater Summer Play Festival

"Do you ever feel that people are like mannequins?" Glenn asked me. I wouldn't know his name was Glenn until he introduced himself to me two minutes later.

I smiled at him the same way I smile at someone who is complaining about a bus that's behind schedule.

Glenn was walking on the sidewalk in the direction I was coming from when an older, smaller woman mechanically stepped out of his way and resumed walking without acknowledging him as a living person with a destination at the end of his path.

"I did some paintings once," he said. "I painted people, portraits, and I combined them with mannequins. They weren't quite people, but they weren't quite mannequins. I thought that was interesting."

"Huh," I said.

"Does that make sense?" he asked me.

I could have concluded the conversation by telling him that I had someplace to be, which was true, but I didn't have to be there for a while yet. We had both come to a stop outside of Bruegger's Bagels on Harvard Street, which seemed to signify some kind of understanding between the two of us.

Actually, it would be a tenuous assertion to suggest that I understood anything about Glenn or my relationship to him. He could have stopped anyone on the street to talk to them about mannequins. As far as I know he had already done so six times since waking up.

But I couldn't discount the possibility that only at this moment did he summon up the gall to speak his mind about the inability of people in modern society to connect with each other and, by extension, their own selves. I felt it was my responsibility to meet him halfway.

We talked about how social mores, educational institutions and technology kept people from observing their environment or respecting each other. I told him about the transforming campus at Emerson College, that a certain percentage of pre-adolescent girls consider Facebook to be an integral factor in their life. I told him that, as an artist, I'd come to think many of the same thoughts that he had. For some reason I introduced myself as a writer rather than an actor, which surprised me after I had done it - it wasn't a lie, but it felt like one. I must have thought that there were too many stigmas attached.

Isolation and the impossibility of open communication haunted me throughout my school days. I'm mostly through with entertaining such ideas on a continuous basis, but Glenn, a gentleman some years my elder, spoke as though they would decide his actions for the rest of the day at the very least. I knew; Glenn was at a particular point in his life. I might have continued walking past him and left him with his thoughts if I hadn't fallen asleep wearing my contacts the night before, leaving my eyes scratched and watery and my vision slightly impaired. My defenses were down. Glenn and I both were being detached from our realities.

Still, I know the dangers of growing comfortable in discontent, having your dark thoughts validated. I looked at my watch and said "Oh!" and that I had an audition to get to. He bid me Good Luck, and thanked me for taking the time. I told him to take care.

I read one side for all the directors. I don't think they liked the look of my red, scratchy eyes, so that was all I read.

5 headshots remain.

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