I’ve gathered you all together to talk about the subject few people shy away from: death. Now before you cringe and turn away this isn’t going to make you cry or anything terribly dramatic…I hope. Death is the main theme of Alcestis and it’s the elephant in every room, all the time, constantly. The play begs the audience to confront their own mortality and the mystery around it. As a way to get audiences involved with the show we’ve started a wall with postcards that ask our audiences to finish the sentence, “Before I die, I want to…”
It can be a heavy question to answer. What would you want to do before you die? Answering it, even as a joke, forces you accept your own mortality and confront your own values. That can be hard to do for some people. As Candy Chang, our inspiration for the wall, says in her TED talk, reflecting on your death focuses you, and forces you to rethink how you want to live. It’s been interesting to see the different responses that show up on our growing wall.
As our collage is gets bigger and bigger, the responses get more creative. It’s entertaining to see how people respond to the question. Some answers are sarcastic; some are daring, some illegal, but most are genuine (let’s hope the “MURDER” one was a joke). Many revolve around the idea of traveling and new experiences. People want to go everywhere from Greece to Bali to Bakersfield, and many places in between. (Additionally, a lot of people want to see the Northern Lights, so I’m proposing a Boston Court trip, who’s in?) There are hopeful, idealistic responses, “I want to see peace on earth.” Some allude to long life like, “I want to see my grandchildren.” It’s truly amazing to see how original people are like my personal favorite, “Have a drink with Bob Dylan.” Better yet, “try heroin.”
Personally, I’ve always dealt with tragedy by seeing the humor in things. This is one of my favorite aspects of Alcestis. I know that sounds like a shameless plug, but honestly the mixture of laughter and sadness make the piece THAT much more palatable. If we didn’t laugh, we would cry. One of my favorites is a card that was put next to the fire alarm saying, “I want to warn people about a fire.” Someone’s witty! Another one says, “I want to cheat death and laugh in it’s face,” don’t we all.
So what is the benefit of reflecting on death and preparing for it? I am 22, about to start my last year of college, and my adventures into actual adulthood (college is pretend). When I ask myself what I want to do before I die, it allows me to see more honestly how I want to live my life, and the decisions I will make. Activities like this one are helping me make choices to ensure that I live without regrets. I think the biggest fear for many of us would be getting to that fateful moment and say to ourselves, “No wait! I haven’t gone skydiving yet!” Here’s to hoping we all reach that moment with peace in hearts because you crossed, “having a threesome” off your list.
PS: To the person looking to perfect the cookie, I think I can help you out