Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Butterfly: Chapter Two

I now know that Butterfly has been chosen to represent The Newtowne Players at the Maryland One Act Festival in January. I have mixed feelings about this. Happy because I want us to win, and excited to have this experience with such a fantastic group of women. Sad because I feel, as usual, I've now over booked myself for the fall/winter season.

Either way, I've owed my readers another blog about Butterfly. Forgive me if my aim isn't perfect on the first shot - I'm not even sure what I need to say anymore.

At the end of plays at the Three Notch Theatre, it is tradition for the cast to stand in a cute little receiving line and if audience members want to talk to you or compliment you or shake your hand or whatever, they have a chance to do just that.

I don't know how I feel about the practice in general. I understand why it's done. I understand it's a community theatre. But part of me would rather leave out the stage door and let the audience keep that wonderful, magical illusion playing in their heads rather than step out of character and have them shake the hand of an actor playing a character in a fictional story.

I must say that following this show I received interesting comments and compliments, and many people simply avoided me, which felt strange, but I suppose I know why.

A few friends in the audience told me that some people wondered aloud if I were transgendered or homosexual just because I was playing the role. I think that scared them. Many people thought that because I was willing to cut my hair for the part (which I didn't), I must be gay. I find that mildly amusing. I guess they thought if they came near me they might catch whatever I had.

Others told me I did a good job, etc. Many people nodded with tears in their eyes in my general direction. One man hugged me and told me that the show reminded him of when his daughter came out to him. He said that it hurt him, but he knew within thirty seconds that it didn't matter. This was his child. He loved her no matter what. Though he said the play made him feel even more strongly for those of his daughter's friends who were rejected by their parents or even disowned by them due to their sexual preferences. He was crying by the time he finished talking to me, and held my hand during the entire conversation. I didn't even know him, and yet he had handed me this little piece of his soul.

Something about a show like Butterfly gets to people whether they want it to or not. It forces them to see something they may generally turn away from in their day to day lives.

Ruby kills her daughter turned son in the end of the play. She chokes the life out of him until he falls to the floor "and then they were dead". The play forces mothers and fathers to take a good hard, cold, look at their hearts when it comes to their children. What is unconditional love, exactly? How do you deal with the pain when your child becomes something you didn't expect, and furthermore, didn't want?

A few weeks after the show closed I saw several things of interest.

The first, on Tyra, was about Isis, the transgendered woman from America's Next Top Model. Her mother was on the show as well. There was a section of the show where Isis confronted another model from ANTM about how she talked about her behind her back. There was an argument regarding the fact that Isis is a Christian. Her opponent felt that she couldn't be a Christian because "she felt God made a mistake, and God doesn't make mistakes." Isis retorted, "God didn't make a mistake. This is who I am."

In Butterfly, David says "This is who I am, Mom, this is me. I want you to see me once like this, as I truly am." It is at the end of that scene that she strangles him.

The second TV brain blaster was on Bones. I'm sure it was an older episode, since we TiVo them to catch up on past seasons, but in this particular show, a woman was killed. During the examination of the body, the team finds that she was born a man. It's a huge surprise to many people on the show. Bones comments regarding the transexual status of the victim "The caterpillar isn't gone just because the butterfly appears." It felt like a line directly from the play.

I have to say that Butterfly has changed me in many ways. Mostly the way I look at the world. At the GLBTQ community. At my faith. At the teachings of Jesus.

You think you know so much, and then you encounter this huge rock in your path. If you don't shift your paradigm, you just keep butting up against it.

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