This Dragon Breathes Fire

SECOND FLOOR, BATHTUB - Richard Moore Kemp House, 601 Caroline Street, Key West, Monroe County, FLThe workshop starts. There are 11 other participants. A couple of chairs to my right, the director and her assistant.

“The subject is sensitive.”

One, eager to opiniate, leans forward. Other participants put their solemn faces on. I belong to the unprepared.

The director notices the confused. “Who read up on the play?”

Answers come from all around. “I read a review online.” “I didn’t have the time.” “Only what’s in the flyer.” “Me too. The flyer.”

A high-pitched voice breaks in from the other side of the circle. Ankles crossed, sensible small-healed shoes, grey slacks, a buttoned up sweater-vest over a sweater like top, light but meticulously applied make-up. “It’s important to highlight the violence of men!”

I cringe. The voice, the tone of the statement. What have I gotten myself into?

I straighten up. Slay the dragon, confront the resistance, do what I’m avoiding. My mantra for the day. It got me here, now it can keep me here.

“Slow down. Let’s go around the circle, everyone introduces themselves and tells us what they know about the play and their expectations for this experience.”

Claire starts. She’s a fan of the author. “I have his first novel at home. What am I expecting to get out of this? I am an introvert and want to challenge myself. Put myself out there.”

“I’m Jane. I already know everyone here from other experiences. I took part in last year’s public participation piece. And the one the year before. But that was different. The plays were different. This one’s different. I can’t wait to see what we’ll do in this one. The first year we were in the background, like part of the scenery. The next year we were like extras. Oh, and I take part in the amateur acting group with Madeleine. Do you know Madeleine? No? She leads the class. It’s actually more of an acting group. We put on a play every year, which Madeleine writes.  She’s very good. Oh my, I’m really going on. I guess I’ll stop now.”

Sonya is also very active with the local theatre.

“Barbara. I’m in the acting group with Sonya and Jane. I also did both workshops and really enjoyed it. The subject is personal to me. I grew up in  a home with domestic violence.” I’m listening. I glance at the script hoping for a clue, something that will tell me that the theme is something else. “It’s not as simple as the TV and the media make it out to be. My mother never left my father.”

Eric is a life-long fan of the theatre and he has passed his loved on to  his daughter. She’s an actress with her own troupe.

Francine starts a speech. The director interrupts her shrill. “I chose the piece because it’s well written.”

“Well I think it’s the perfect opportunity to inform the public, maybe have a public forum on the subject.”

“The troupe and I talked about this before tackling the play.  We felt that doing anything would take away from the play and its impact. Next.”

I’m talking to myself while the introductions continue. Do I really want to be here? If I’m going to drop out, I should do it today. And I’ve already come up with a long list of excuses. I like how the director is handling the subject. And the people in the group. Slay the dragon, confront the resistance, do what I’m avoiding.

“I sign up for most of the workshops offered by the theatre, though not the acting group. They’re a change of pace and make for fun weekends. This is the first time I’m doing one of the public participation pieces. I didn’t read anything about the play and I’m just learning about its subject. It surprised me.” I pause, hesitate. “I grew up in a home with domestic violence.

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