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Daily Archives: November 5th, 2010

How do we remember? What do we remember? What memories can we trust?

The very first show I dramaturged was David Lindsay-Abaire’s Fuddy Meers, which is about a woman with short-term amnesia (think Memento).  Naturally, these questions came up a lot. So, it’s been a little surreal to work on The Mistakes Madeline Made, and face these questions again, but from a different point of view. Edna isn’t trying to remember, she’s trying not to forget – those are two very different things. It’s the difference between looking for something and holding on tightly to it. Both can make you feel crazy.

For a compact little play, MMM packs a punch when it comes to BIG TOPICS not the least of which is memory. There’s an idea from Leibniz, which is presented in the show, that (and I’m putting this extremely simply) everything has/is a memory, even tiny particles of dust. And every memory is a bit of a soul. Which must sound wonderful to pack-rats. And it’s one of our jobs to sort out which are important enough to keep, and which can be destroyed. (If it doesn’t make sense, just come see the play. Bob Mussett as Wilson explains it nicely.)

I think this also can tie into the grieving process, another BIG TOPIC. You don’t want to forget your loved ones, but you also can’t live in the memory forever. Otherwise you become a Miss Havisham, all alone and creepy in your attic.

So where’s the line? It varies from person to person, which just makes it more difficult to determine. If only we could all be Paula Vogel or Tennessee Williams and create beautiful little plays about our siblings. But maybe we can at least use them as examples. You acknowledge the memory, you create something near and dear to you, and then you put it into the hands of someone else. It’s still yours, but then it also belongs to someone else, and then they have a new memory that combines yours and theirs and others. It’s a nice thought.