HOW FEAR FEEDS OUR DENIALS AND MAKE US “BLIND”

Article By Luis Vazquez
Photo credit Yi-Chung Chen

“The bioluminescence of our existance dances and caresses our weary souls, through the pain and injustice it still cries out to us with joy “we are alive! We are alive!”

This and many other lines, some excerpted from “The Tragical in Daily Life” and some monologues devised by the cast and overseen by Dennis Yueh-Yeh Li, who adapted and directed this play, you knew you were going to get something different.

The six actors were already in position as we entered. They were in meditative poses and awoke to speak singularly and together to the air, to the audience via one-on-ones until it became apparent that this was the warmup. Like a routine subway ride in New York City, this scene has become familiar. Uncomfortable, yet intriquing. That was what Crystal Field presented at the Theater for the New City and written by Maurice Maeterlinck. “Blind” was the name of the play which saw 12 people trying to solve thrir present and future concurrently, but ending both unresolved as a higher power devised their fate. However we saw only six, which made it more challenging as they doubled themselves.

Three men, three women who cannot see beyond their apprehensions, so much so they sit attentively in two groups of three waiting for a priest. We learn its a rare day of freedom as they all are part of an asylum. They may be on an island but its not clear. There is a bridge and a river. There are also three praying old ladies and others. They ascertain that they are in a basement, or below. Like all of us who are tied to our phones, we are afraid to pass our respective boundaries and without our technology are just as in the dark.

The six (Leah Bacher, Brad Burgess, Chun Cho, Monica Hunken, Kevin Lynch and Equiano, who appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association) take turns prying themselves into standing erect and represents our attempts to break from our fears and preconceived notions that were spelled out by each actor. One questions every sound and spells out every thought that arises. One is lost mentally while the other hops from rational to the polar opposite. This is all of us in one way or another.

Our other three consist of one who repeats, in the center is the most stabile, asking the best questions followed by the most deflating self-answers. The last (Cho) is somewhere else and as a result is probably in the best position. She appears to be a favorite of the priest, privy to knowledge the others don’t. She also is the first to hear but never the why. This is also us in one way or another.

There are four women of the six and the sentences end with the same conclusion “The women are always right.” This also is a representation of man’s decline of importance in the modern world.

An interesting segment was the “Where’s Kevin Lynch?” repeated often by Kevin Lynch, who followedby describing four audience members including yours truly by description of age, look and clothes with detail. Often we prejudge all that we see before us, breaking down our respective humanities as we undoubtably did to each actor that night.

This production resembled the old Twilight Zone episode where several characters are trapped in a dark basement as well and discuss and argue to a conclusion that if one can escape to thetop, they all have a chance only to find they were dolls in the garbage and the lone escapee is found on the snow outside.

Our six players look and grasp at clues. One recalls a bridge, another a flowerbed and one hears the beach. Oh how correct that one turned out to be. Finally one makes it to the wall behind them which opened his eyes seeing the priest has died. But they then see he is just standing. As the rest follow they continue to walk aimlessly together they all finally hear a child crying. But it’s not. In the distance the sound of ship horns. They are warships. They launch their missiles. The field is straffed and the six are no more.

All along we live in a structured society that we are nutured to depend on, seeing only whst we are told we see so that only at the end, does it all become clear. We find we spend so much time on one item at a time that we fail to see the big picture. “Blind”, in it’s unique and roundabout way, shows that, leaving us all with food for thought.

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