EDGES, Tonglen and a Theatre of Compassion


David Fick, Shannyn Fourie, Roland Perold and Luella Holland in EDGES

Last night’s preview of Edges was awesome. We had a packed house and the audience was incredibly responsive and engaged. The theatre is an incredibly intimate one, so the front row is about a couple of steps away from our most downstage positions and the back row is perhaps less than 5 metres from that point. As we sing, the response from the audience is immediate for us. There is no fourth wall here and the interaction is direct. As we tell our stories, we see everyone sharing them. It becomes so clear that we are all together in this experience of being human. It reminds me of the tonglen meditation practice I discovered recently when I bought myself The Compassion Box. Tonglen is about sending and receiving energy, acknowledging the suffering of yourself and others on an in-breath and releasing happiness and success to all on the out-breath. Perhaps confronting all of that pain sounds like it might be quite heavy and it certainly can be at the start of a meditation but, by the time you’re done, you’re filled with light and love and kindness. Now I am not suggesting that the performance of Edges is a meditation, but the cathartic, spiritual dialogue that the show brings about is a similar reminder that we are not alone, that we are all always becoming and that even in our darkest moments there is hope and healing.

I wasn’t expecting to blog so much about our connection with the audience. In fact, when I sat down I was intending to write about the next song in the show, “Boy With Dreams”. That will have to wait for another day. After all, there are many more days to blog about Edges before our run is through and the audience is an integral part of the theatrical experience of this show. I wonder what will change when we perform in a bigger venue at the National Arts Festival next month.

Opening night tonight! Looking forward to sharing our show with another group of people – including the critics. Bring it on!

(Edges, by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, runs at the Kalk Bay Theatre from 1 – 25 June 2011. For tickets and more information, visit the Kalk Bay Theatre website Edges is directed by Paul Griffiths, with musical direction by Garth Tavares, and features Roland Perold, Shannyn Fourie, Luella Holland and David Fick).

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