I dive into the same ocean twice - Jonge Harten

I dive into the same ocean twice

Leontien Allermeersch

Author: Jiāyùn Zhang

Studies have shown that almost one-third of stroke patients are left with aphasia. The language center in the brain is damaged. The patients know exactly what to say, but the words are blocked by their mouth and will never come out. Stalemate and frozen. I won’t continue the medical issue; it just reminds me of last Thursday night. Sometimes, I hope that silence will make me calm, give me time to chill. But actually, it always pushes me into an impasse, the tension becomes thicker. Just like that night: I should call it a silent, but heavy night of theatre.

I don’t know if it is the same for you, but I’m very tolerant of theatre. It is a one-way street leading me into a performance that allows me to move forward. There’s neither a way back nor way out. I know that I will be challenged, and I like that. I rush into the Grand Theatre at night, or rather, -let’s say the theatre is an ocean- I hold my breath and dive in. Under the water, I see EL NACIMIENTO or [REBIRTH]. I come up to take a breath, and then go back down to see The Journey.

“Let’s say the theatre is an ocean”

Ariah Lester & Aymará Parola – EL NACIMIENTO or [REBIRTH]

The two performances are very different from each other. EL NACIMIENTO contains plenty of audiovisual elements, the acts and the pace are well-designed, I can feel the rhythm, from the music, and the movements as well. It seems like every link of the chain is meaningful, everything on the stage – the frames, masks, rocks, white cloths, and even the contact lenses, they are all expressing meaning. And yes, the audience too. I can tell how important the audience is for the actors. They look straight into my eyes without looking away. I feel like they know how beautiful they are. It may sound weird, but they are sure that the audience likes them.

If you would ask me for comments, I would say their performance is confident. It’s incorrect to say that they dare to challenge the audience, for there’s no fear. It’s a provocation. The identity of the audience has changed. They don’t allow me to just watch a pleasant show, there is danger: the blood dripping from the mouth or the thread that keeps coming out from a body and moves right in front of me. I must avoid it, I have to. Then the frames are hoisted and begin spinning in the air. They look so big and heavy that even though I know, they are being controlled, the warning of danger echoes in my mind.

Anna Luka da Silva & Nora Ramakers – The Journey

After taking my breath, The Journey comes to me. The stage is clean, there’s nothing on it. During the performance, there’s no change in lighting, no sound effects: there’s no sign of stage making. What’s more is, my identity changed again here. Contrary to EL NACIMIENTO, the actress of this monologue keeps her eyes closed. But the challenge for me is still there. She is looking at me with big, painted, frightened eyes, which makes her look like a cartoon girl; Her dress is purposefully cut with slits from the end of her legs. The exhibition of her body, the plain speaking, the poem of her horrifying childhood, the experience that I wish had never happened. There’s no confidence this time but a sort of bravery.

If EL NACIMIENTO does have the attitude of altering the audience, The Journey is a trial for the actress herself, she is trying to break out, and I’m a witness and a bearer.

“A theatre night temporarily gives me freedom”

I dive into the ocean twice. The scenes underwater seem different, but I know they are always in the same water. In EL NACIMIENTO, they say that we are trapped in everything. Yolanda in The Journey says that there is a path to freedom, but she can’t step on it; she also describes herself as a bird living in a cage, while the couple in EL NACIMIENTO ask themselves: “Is it worth the birth, for a bird born in a cage?” Because of this desire for freedom, human beings become aware of the existence of the cage, isn’t it sad?

Aphasic patients can recover very soon through communication training, they will get free again from the cage of silence. For me, a theatre night makes me aphasic but also temporarily gives me freedom. It’s the key for a cage, I should keep it and plan my escape patiently, being prepared.

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