Once, the moon meant everything to me.
Now, when the full moon peers out of a white mass of cloud, I stare back into the glowing eye of a whale. It returns, time and time again, to glide across the sky. That whale is the only thing which can unite an ocean of detached experiences, the being which has recurred throughout all that life has thrust at me. The instinct to make sense of things by giving them context can only go so far. For every story there are remainders, moments tinged with an indefinable oddness, somehow important and yet defiant of definition.
Walking home in the early hours and watching a white, deer-like creature move in the grass—
Dreaming of a boundless white light and writing nonsense upon waking—
Kneeling before a globular moon, shimmering like white mercury—
My favourite thing about theatre is its ability to fit these remainders into a narrative, to unify them in one event. As plays can be built to meet different ends, we can make use of our leftover experiences and find closure. The night I spent enraptured with the moon finds a meaning, it becomes a way of getting inside the head of a character which never existed, and can only live through me. For the moment, the desire for something impossible, something I can never understand, is sated.
After time, a sense of betrayal descends. To have given everything to bring an experience into context, to pay it the highest respect and honour, to let it be the most real thing that could exist, and then be left alone again?
The moon returns and the whale swims.
The incarnation of every too beautiful thing peers down and my hatred mounts.
The embodiment of futile desire, of empty drive, a vanishing point retreating before us — it must be destroyed.
It must be seized upon, captured, displayed so that all can witness what has been done by it.
Name it, and by naming, end it.
What better means than the theatre?
A place where the disjointed becomes one.
A place where we can find closure.
A place where we can lure the white whale, bait it with harpoons, drag the beast through the wall of the Barron and slaughter it once and for all.
Of course, it’s only a play. There’s weirdness in every life, but that’s no reason to embody that weirdness, and anyway, we’re all just people aren’t we? We’re all people, and people wake up and get by and work and love and sleep. Why be weird? It doesn’t help. How seriously can you take something you don’t understand, that doesn’t mean anything?
But I tell you this – if the sky opens up and the glowing eye of the whale stares through, its massy white bulk descending upon the land…
Finally! You have shown yourself!
I have been waiting for this moment and nothing is more vital than grasping your heart and wrenching it out. My daily life has been nothing but preparation for this, I have forged myself in the mundaneness of it all, and planned, and waited.
And now the wait is almost over.
‘If we hunt not Moby Dick, God hunt us all.‘
Photo credit: Helen Miller