(This reflection was written for the 2015 TCG Circle Audience Revolution blog salon)
This is not for you.
You never came into my mind when I was making this.
To be honest, I was thinking of someone else entirely.
So, you can only imagine how shocking it is to see you there
staring at me, listening to me, thinking all sorts of things.
I am not sure how to behave.
Because, I don’t know you. At all.
Are you sure you are supposed to be here?
Maybe you wandered in by mistake.
Maybe you thought something else was going to happen.
Listen, I’m sorry.
Because, even though we’re strangers,
It’s clear that someone must have invited you
Or asked you to come
Not that it changes anything.
I mean, I still made this without thinking about you
But you know what I mean
I want you to feel welcome
Well, you showed up
And no one else did
Really, I’m quite taken
With your taking the time to come all this way
There are so many things to do in a day
that you have chosen (somehow) to have come here is…
Even if I do find it a little odd
Because really I wanted someone else to show up
Someone else entirely
I’m a little hurt, actually
Maybe even a bit angry
That it’s you
And not this other person
That has made it here
Because it’s much harder with strangers
Much harder to be intimate –
At least for me
And this is…well… intimate
And a bit, you know, dark
I’m not going to lie
It’s a bit uncomfortable
To see you there
And know that all this
Is now meant for you
When it wasn’t
In the first place
I am just being honest here
I hope you don’t mind
It’s a bit embarrassing to pretend we’re friends
I mean, we haven’t even said hallo.
Haven’t even broken bread together.
This is all quite unnatural
Although a friend of mine says most everything we do is
You seem impatient
Maybe you’re getting upset
When we were children, we never had time to get bored, my grandparents say
I’m not sure I know what they mean
Almost everyone I know gets bored quite easily
Just like you’re doing now
Glancing at your phone
Cradling its vibrations
Listen, I have been where you are, too
I know what it’s like to be a stranger
In a strange place
Where people behave in peculiar ways
And expect you to suddenly be friends
As if they’d known you for years
I know what it’s like to walk in
And know, deep down, that you never thought of me
And were perhaps even contemptuous of me
And saw me as some sort of project you had to work on
Or task you had to fulfill
Listen, you can ignore me
I would rather you did
Because, well, this being intimate thing
I’m not sure I’m good at it either
Not these days
Because, I do get bored quite easily
And rather like looking at my phone
And really, my mind is…
So cluttered with…
So, for you to ignore me
It’s probably the best thing you could do
Because really, I walked in by mistake
I didn’t even know what I came here for
I had the wrong day
You weren’t even on my mind either
And what we have here is
Not even a real thing
You can carry on
Pretend I’m not here
Pretend it’s all some sort of show
And that what we’re doing is
A perfectly natural thing
I won’t tell anybody
After all, I don’t know anybody who goes to…
You want to actually shake my hand?
Share some food and drink?
You want to talk to me?
What if I do/say the wrong thing?
It’s all allowed?
Let’s begin, then: you and I.
Caridad Svich is a text-builder and theatre-maker. Her most recent play This Thing of Ours was featured in the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ 2015 Ignite Festival of New Work.
Audience (R)Evolution is a four-stage program to study, promote and support successful audience engagement and community development models across the country. The Audience (R)Evolution grant program was designed by TCG and is funded by Doris Duke.