For Anyone Who is Afraid to Write…
by P. Braithwaite
I’m uninterested in sanitary stories. I’m not interested in the positive spin that takes out all the mess. Messy stories have power. Tell me the story you think will kill you. I want the stories that live inside the tears and mush and dirt. I want the stories that are underneath your fingernails. If a story is manicured, set it on fire.
If your story doesn’t destroy me, I’m not interested. I’m alive to be regularly destroyed. If you’re scared to ‘go there’…your writing is not for me. I am not your target demographic.
This is about a story that made me sick.
The other night, out of support for a friend, I went to see Light of Night, a play by Cecilia Copeland. The piece was about, Stephanie, a woman who is held captive in a basement by her husband.
It wasn’t exactly a feel-good show.
On the surface, this is a play was about a kidnap, a retelling of the Persephone myth, and inspired by all women who have ever been trapped in basements. But for me, a woman who has never been kidnapped, this is a play about identity and the tension between blind devotion and self-love (Stephanie, after all, is held captive by her ‘husband’). This is a piece about how we hold ourselves captive and cast other people to execute our plans.
We write our own roles.
We committ to our own character.
Light of Night is a play about what survives.
I went into the theatre feeling perfectly fine. I was a little tired, but overall I was content. I left with swollen eyes, a sore throat, and runny nose. During the play, I found it hard to breathe. In the span of an hour, I swear I developed swine flu. Oddly enough, it was gone the next morning.
I’m impressed by any story that makes me sick.
From where I sat, this play’s power wasn’t the acting or the writing. The true power was its source — it came from a place most of us won’t dare go. It is the offering of a writer who is braver than most; someone able to plunge into her pain.
Light of Night is an exercise in alchemy.
As a result of artistic bravery, this work lives and breathes outside of Cecilia Copeland’s mind. This strange and dazzling play has a life and home.
Trust me when I tell you it was strange. There’s everything from spilled wine to period blood.
Whether you go see Light of Night isn’t my primary concern. This isnt a review, an advertisement or endorsement. This play and this blog post are smoke signals from the universe to all artists everywhere who are afraid. So many of us are afraid of our artistic truth, but we must write and create directly the places that haunt us. We must write and create what we think we cannot.
For that reason, Light of Night is a call to action for every artist — enter the ugly place, go where you think you can’t. Create without worry about marketability or prestige.
What is born will find its audience and it’s home.
And so it is.
(For more info on Light of Night click here)