An evening of theatre which was to be an enjoyable night out, turned into an evening of self-discovery for my friend and I. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, except that the show looked interesting. I became optimistic when the show started with “Rocket Man” by Elton John. I love that song, so I instantly felt I would be in good hands. It turned out to be I was in good hands. As they were playing the played “Rocket Man,” I began jamming out.
The show we saw was titled “Rocket Man” produced by Theatre Pro Rata. As we walked into the theatre it was like an attic with stuff all around the stage. I can’t even begin to imagine the nightmare it must have been for the stage manager to pull together all those prop pieces. Because there were only five people in the cast, it was a tight-knit ensemble. This closeness was evident in the performance. My congratulations to the set designers, props masters, and cast on this show. Each member of the cast held their own and it was evident that each cast member enjoyed their role.
The five-person cast did an amazing job of presenting the life of Donny, the main character who wants to escape life and run away. Have you ever wanted to run away from life? With the snow we have been having in April, I have. Plus, I live with chronic pain and deal with pain daily, I often want to run away from life. What about you? Has there been a stressful time when you needed to just get away?
Like Donny, I have a way to escape. Those who know me well know I love escaping to Disney World. I go to Disney because it is the most disability friendly place, a place that gives people with disabilities an equal chance. Sometimes we are even treated better than the regular crowd, by getting priority in the lines. For me, it is a magical experience. When you live with pain, it is amazing to go somewhere you are treated like royalty.
One line that really struck me in Rocket Man “here’s my life, make an offer.” This is not a common theme. The play also addressed writing your own obituary and confronting you own reality. Buck, Donny’s friend, asked what he would say in his own obituary if he wrote it. Those words struck a chord with me. What would I write in my own obituary? Yes, it might be morbid, but also mind opening.
When I was five years old, doctors told me I would die in my teens. I was born with a rare medical condition called mitochondrial myopathy that at the time, and still to this day, doctors don’t know much about. As a young child, I would act out funeral scenes with my Barbie dolls. I would ask my mom when I would die. I remember when I was a teen thinking any minor illness could be my time. I remember being a ‘good’ child so that people would remember me in a positive way. Well, I have outlived that. I still want people to see me as a ‘good and positive’ person, but I look at the world differently.
So, what would my obituary say? I hope it would say that I lived a good life. I hope it would say that I contributed to society in a positive way. I hope it would say that I made a difference in people’s lives. While death could be any day for any of us, what would your obituary say?
The front cover of the program and flyer for the show displays a man. The man is dressed simply. He is looking into the mirror and sees himself as an astronaut. When you look into the mirror what do you see? Often, we don’t see what is actually there. Or do we? I often see myself as a strong woman, an artist, a teacher. We often remember the good stories and the stories we want to remember defining who we are.
Little did I know or realize that attending this show would take me on a true rollercoaster of emotions. I found it engaging and enlightening. We often are living in either the past or looking to the future, but not really living in the present. This show reminded me to live in the present more. To accept my life and live it for all it’s worth.
What I love about Theatre Pro Rata is that it takes on new and interesting plays that most people are not be aware of. They chose plays by doing readings of a selection of plays. The audience votes on which play to produce. The work is truly community driven which is a great aspect of the theatre company. Have you seen a Theatre Pro Rata show? I highly recommend it. While you’re looking for their next show, think about your obituary, how do you want to be remembered?
After the show, I got the opportunity to interview one of the show’s actors, Shana Eisenberg. Shana, actress who played Louise, really enjoyed her experience with this script. Here are some questions I asked her:
How did you get involved with Theatre Pro Rata? Have you done other shows with them?
I've auditioned with them several times and seen a few of their shows. They do a lot of interesting stuff that I wanted to try to be a part of. I also knew others who had great things to say about working with them.
You seem like a tight knit group. Tell me about the group dynamics of the show.
It's amazing how well we got along considering none of knew each other or had worked with Theatre Pro Rata or Stuart before. Given how the play ends, we dug into some personal stuff early in the process. We all seemed to feel safe and comfortable with each other.
In your own words what is the show about? What are the themes of the show?
Rocket Man is about questioning our existence in the vastness of the universe and the possibilities of what other existences could be out there. Or it's the age old question of what happens after we die?
What did you learn about yourself or what did the show teach you?
It gave me new perspectives and ideas on what happens after we die. I'm Jewish and was raised with the idea that there is no afterlife. I know about reincarnation, heaven vs. hell, etc. But this introduced another option to me that opened a new universe of ideas to play with. Do our souls bounce to a parallel world and experience the same life in some backwards sort of way? And, if so, how many parallel planes does our soul go through? And how are all of these worlds different from one another? We still had so many unanswered questions about the world we lived in for Act 2. We had a great time talking about different ideas of what naturally occurs in that world that we don't get from the script.
What was one thing you took away from the show as an actor?
It was fun finding the similarities and differences between our Act 1 characters vs. our Act 2 characters. We were still the same person but, because we were in this backwards world, we'd had different experiences and different relationships with one another. It was great to sit and ask questions that had a million answers depending on how far you were willing to go.
What did you enjoy most about working on this show?
The people I got to work with.