A lot of people ask why Mouse in a Jar is an important play to me, why I've been drawn to the text. I think I am more than willing to talk about how caught up I was by Martyna's language the moment I turned over page one, what a visceral punch her text packs, what a treat her rich and complex world of rhythm, image and sound are to me, I am less likely to mention that I see scraps of myself in her story.
Now it is important to note that this is not a play about domestic violence. If it was the story would follow a more conventional path dumping us off at the moral: hitting people is bad. Instead this story happens to be grounded in a darker family dynamic, but the narrative investigates how these people chose to negotiate their lives against the backdrop of dysfunction, not the dysfunction itself.
That being said, it's probably worth mentioning that I often come home from rehearsal with my stomach in knots because some of the work we do unearths shards of memory for me. A different time in my life where one false move only seemed to lead to another to another to another, until I found myself painted pretty desperately in to the corner not even sure what a way out would look like.
It's a gut reaction as the viewer to boil these women's problem's down to victimization, but we are doing the story a huge disservice if we allow that. The truth here is that people are frustratingly complicated and they want things that often seem to nullify or eclipse other desires.
What is love in this basement? There's nothing cheap or shallow about it. It's got the same complexity as any other love, perhaps the stakes are just higher, perhaps there's just so much more to lose here. But I would guess that's not the truth, we all want the same things when we love someone, consistency, reciprocation, perfection. Often we will turn a blind eye to the imperfections of our partners or the complaints of others just to hold onto the dream of our love. I think it's hard to admit how little perspective we can have in those situations, how much we will sweep under the carpet for a shot at connection. That's what's going on in this basement and sometimes those knots in my stomach as I bike home are in recognition of my own story and sometimes there about all of us.
Company Member and
Director of Mouse in a Jar
Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Tickets are available through our website.