THE MAY QUEEN CHRONICLES: We're Telling Stories by Thomas Putnam
Some of you may remember the Storytelling Festivals that MU hosted a few years ago. (Well, maybe a few decades. Was it really half a century ago?) I remember the experience as if it were just a few years ago. One person standing there telling a story. No sound track. No special lighting. No second takes. Just one human being telling a story to another, or in that case to hundreds of other humans. There was something incredibly powerful in those moments, something incredibly human.
I've come to realize how much we need to recognize the power of story. It's what we do as humans. I'm not convinced that any other living form can do such a thing (though I'm not ruling out the possibility.) Indeed, it is what makes us human.
I think I've mentioned before in these blogs that during the depths of the Pandemic, some on the committee that helps to decide on what plays we're going to produce the following season felt that what we all needed at that time was to laugh...some plays that were just plain funny. I disagreed then and even more so now. I believe what we need is to tell stories...and to hear stories.
During the course of the process of getting THE MAY QUEEN to the stage, I've been struck with the story-telling nature of this play. Every character in the play has a moment (or more) when they tell a story. Remember, this play takes place within the four walls of an office pod—anything but a reflection of healthy humanity. And yet in this sterile place, five humans meet and interact and tell stories. A few of the stories are pages long in the script.
We find out that some of the stories that have been told in the past turn out to be not true. (We're certainly familiar with that phenomenon in this country in recent years!) But the play is about telling the truth...telling true stories. It's a powerful experience.
We've got the audience almost circling the action of the play. One of the reasons is for us as listeners of stories to be a part of the action in that life-less pod and to allow ourselves to be quickened by the experience of being hearers. Truth is told. Stories are told. It's what theatre—and life—is all about.