Distance that speaks volumes
|Erasing The Distance presents|
|Finding Peace in This House|
They have names and faces like anyone you may see on any given day. Is she a cutter, mutilating herself to cause external pain for what she feels inside? Is she a victim of horrifying abuse by her mentally-ill father? What has she witnessed? Is she finally free of an old identity that was dysmorphic?
Finding Peace In This House left me wondering about every person that I saw on the way home. This production is the result of a collaboration with The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and it is stunning to witness.
Six monologues are given against a stark cyc wall. There are no visual projections or special effects needed. These stories are what is happening to people just like you or me every day. We were raised to mind our own business; that we could never know what goes on behind closed doors. That is simply not true. The results of unreported abuse are evident in the spike in behavioral disorders. Each of the monologues tell of loneliness and the abyss of depression that comes with suppressed memories and neglect.
The story of Brian, played by Wes Clark, is an illustration of what happens when a child is depressed and left to their own devices to dull the pain. Brian’s story is one of addiction and crime. It is unbelievable that a nice middleclass looking boy like him would grow up to be a heroin addict. Brian steals to support his habit and his decision-making faculties are not the sharpest.
One of the more poignant stories is about a young man named Matthew who has Cerebral Palsy. He was not expected to live much less walk and yet he accomplished both. Jason Economus plays the jerky movements and speech that are the external signs of Cerebral Palsy. It is a brilliant and heartbreaking performance. Economus really puts himself in Matthew’s situation. It never goes over the top nor does it descend into maudlin treacle. (I was surprised to see that the actor really did not have Cerebral Palsy.)
Ramona’s story relays how she went from a home-in-hell to homelessness to forgiveness and self-redemption, creating a safe place for others who have suffered the same. Desla Epison plays Ramona with grit and vulnerability. Ramona is an ‘it is what it is’ kind of woman who does not have time to whine or be self-deprecating.
Next, the story of Candace (Millicent Hurley) is beautifully compelling as a man journeys to evolve into the woman she has always known was inside. Hurley’s performance is subtle and gentle. It is so moving to hear of two marriages and two children forever changed by genetic cross-wiring.
The stories of the cutter and the anorexic bring up the question of control and why people do self mutilation or starvation. Depression and other related diseases don’t leave the mind in control so the resultant behavior is quite often destructive.
The after performance discussion I attended with the cast was quite poignant. They spoke of how they contacted the person whose story they were telling and what an emotional and healing experience it was. For some the healing was about forgiveness for another it was about going deeper into the person not the disorder or disease. I came away with a deeper understanding and a self vow to look beyond appearances.
This is a short run and I highly recommend that you find a way to see it. Erasing the Distance has made a brilliant and moving production out of a tender subject matter. It’s okay to look people in the eye and give acknowledgement in this day of instant information. True connection is encouraged and welcomed. You never know who you may help on their path to renewed strength and mental health.