The Magnetic North Theatre Festival has been an absolute whirlwind of activity for me. My flight from Saskatoon arrived Sunday afternoon and, after a quick shower, I immediately jumped into the Industry Series. There have been so many great discussions, connections and productions jammed into an intense 4 days. It was another solid series of shows for this festival, but one in particular has really stuck with me: What Happened to the Seeker. What Happened to the Seeker is an incredibly personal and moving event. I hesitate to call it a play as it felt more like performance art. The piece is divided into two halves, the first one split into three parts.
As I sat involved in the first two parts, I felt confused and then angry. The whole thing initially seemed self-indulgent and wanky. Oh great, another play about artists who are unable to make art. It made me so mad. I was angry people were laughing at jokes I did not find funny, but incredibly sad. I was angry at the negativity presented in the piece, the desperation and lack of hope. And I was angry at the, yes I dare say the thought crossed my mind, what I perceived to be a waste of money in creating this elaborate project. And now I was angry at my own hypocrisy and assholishness. What the hell was wrong with me?
I grabbed a drink as I walked to the third part. Well, at least there was a bar. I started wandering the exhibit before me, carefully looking, touching, reading; starting to feel unsettled by the familiarity of it all. I knew this story all too well. I reached a point that offered the audience member a chance to “release” their anger by beating up a pillow. Impulsively I went for it. Unleashing this rage I was feeling, hurting my hand in the process. I was shaking as I kept on through the exhibit and was grateful for the hug that was offered next. As I reached the end of the piece, I felt the tears coming up. I took a step back, drink in hand, trying desperately to compose myself and wondering what to do next when I spotted the Seeker. I looked at her and she looked at me. In that moment, I knew she saw me. Really saw me. As I gave her a hug, the floodgates opened and I started sobbing on her shoulder.
I finally managed to say what had been weighing on me this entire time: “This is my life.” She looked at me and I saw she was crying too. So I did what any grownup does in this situation. I ran off to get another drink.
You may have a completely different experience with this show. You may not even like it at all. But for me, this piece is something that is going to stick with me for quite sometime. And I’m not just saying that because I notice the slight bruises developing on my knuckles from that time I lost a fight with a pillow and chair.
I wasn’t angry because this was “bad” art. I was angry because it hit so close to home. What Happened to the Seeker put a broken mirror up to my face and I was pissed to confront truths in myself that I had been ignoring for a long time. Love it, hate it, this show certainly did not leave me indifferent.