After spending yet another day at the Fringe, I have learned to get into the groove of prepping myself before I see a performance. First: read the description of the performance. Second: Figure out what kind of performance I’m seeing so I know how to respond as an audience member. Third: Go in with an open mind. Now, after completing all of these things, I walk into Sea Sick. There is a chalkboard (which automatically speaks educational undertones to me) and a glass table with a pitcher of what looked like water and a glass of water right next to it. My mind is trying to piece together the symbolism of the glass table and the relationship between the glass and water in the space they share. Also, what in the world is this folk music doing playing overhead? All of these things circulated in my mind until the performer, Alanna, emerged and started speaking. She had a very solid voice, but a twang of nervousness as she skipped a few periods and forgot to enunciate the ends of her words. Despite this, her actions spoke louder than her words with her deliberate movements, careful lighting, and the well-placed scene changes.
Whenever I see a performance I always try to pinpoint the exigency of it. Some are harder to pinpoint than others. But, when that woman walked in and was honest with the audience saying she would rather us not know the side of her she was about to tell, it resonated with me. If not now, when? If not here, where? We are the vessels that carry the stories. And in this performance, carry we did. Alanna took our humanity from us and molded it into a more compassionate, loving, and forgiving essence; then, she gifted it right back.
How can these things possibly find equilibrium with each other? In Alanna’s performance, they do through curiosity and exploration. She takes us on a journey across the world and down into the depths of the ocean. Typically, anything scientifically related can confuse one who doesn’t study such topics. However, Alanna does it in a way that is engaging, and artistic. She leads us on her exploration through the horrors of climate change, what happens when the ocean becomes too acidic, and to quote her directly, “warm, breathless, and sour.”
The Fringe likes tackling political, social, and sexually charged topics. Who is there to advocate about the planet? This is the moment Alanna strolls in with Bob Dylan and Neil Young on each of her shoulders, ready to give us a lesson in forgiveness. Not a lesson in how to reduce our carbon footprint, but a lesson in forgiveness.
Often, advocacy gets locked away in that hidden box. You know the one! The one that has those old pictures of “the one that got away” or if you are like some, locks of hair once had. We get too scared to advocate for ourselves that we lock the tool away and only pull it out when remembered. Performance is the key to unlocking that box. Performance is advocacy. A storyteller’s story is never quite finished, neither is an advocate’s. To quote Alanna, “The truth lies not in the facts, but in the way we tell the facts.”
Tell the story.
Be the advocate.