A response to The Midnight Soup by Emma Geraghty.
This piece of writing was commissioned by the company. However, our agreement with Emma was that she would be free to write whatever she wanted about the show.
In some senses, the writing below does contain a few spoilers of sorts.
So if I write everything down, I won’t forget. I’ll try not to trip over my words, I will try to give you an honest account of this night. It’s worth remembering.
The theatre is not a theatre, not tonight.
We go through the same doors into the darkness, but onto the stage. Under the lights. We take off our coats, drop our bags, and set ourselves. Our names are already there. The table has been expecting us, and who knows how long it has been waiting.
distribuer des plaques / planches à découper / couteaux tranchants / servez-vous à boire
There is a story. A story of a life lived with the passing of the seasons on their eternal cycle, a story faithfully inscribed on page after page after page of diaries. Time is marked differently here.
visites de sa famille / fleurs du jardin / deux baguettes de Peggy / cadeaux pour la fête des mères
There are rules for this performance, as there are rules for everything to do with performing. But the rules are not rules for the theatre, not tonight. The rules are family rules, handed down through time. You must finish everything on your plate, and if you don’t there will be no dessert. Don’t talk when the head of the table is talking. No elbows on the table.
We talk while we work, timeless in our tasks. Chopping oignons , l’ail, les poivrons, les courgettes , les champignon. Everything for the pot, making more food than the eight of us need, because more food is always better. We can have a second helping, we can save it for the next night, we can share it with others.
And there is a story, a story of a life lived for every individual day, a story that is magical in the mundanity of every individual day.
Le théâtre est pas un théâtre, pas ce soir. Or any other night. With these rules and actions and stories comes the simple elegance of the dinner party. Because that’s what it is – un dîner, a space to share. We sit and we talk about everything and everyone, finding out as much as we can about each other without being too intrusive, exchanging stories for memories for anecdotes. As if we know that, when we leave the table, we won’t be seeing each other again. There will be no catch up phone calls. No coffee dates. No dropping round unannounced because you forget your hat. It will all be gone. So we share the stories along with the food and the wine and rejoice in the moment. It brings us together as strangers with so many unrealised similarities. And to say we leave as friends would be clichéd, but we do leave as something more than what we were when we first sat down.
And with this dinner party, with its rules and actions and stories and elegance, come several questions. One stands out. What would be unacceptable?
Ce qui serait inacceptable?
De ne pas avoir le choix.
Not having a choice.
The idea of suicide in any presentation is provocative. It triggers people. And at the beginning, the advice is given that this is a safe space, that some of the things you hear may make you feel uncomfortable or upset, if you want to leave the table for a bit and then come back then that would be fine. We’re given a choice.
So let it be known that Josette Burtin, being sound of mind, body and soul, took her own life. And let it be known it was her choice. Because it can be. It’s something to do with free will, with the freedom of choice that simply being human grants us. It’s something to do with a life lived from season to season, an acknowledgement that time upon this earth is finite, and why the hell shouldn’t we get to choose when and how and where we go? And let it be known that I hope to one day feel that completion, to have that courage, because we’re not afraid of dying, we’re afraid of forgetting, of our mind and body and soul splitting off from each other and not leaving directions. Let it be known that I, too, am afraid of forgetting.
Si je vous écris tout, je ne vais pas oublier. Je n’oublierai pas. Je vais essayer de ne pas trébucher sur mes mots, je vais essayer de dire la vérité. On se souvient.
We make a choice. We raise a glass. To life. To tonight. To the dates we hold dear, the days we’d rather forget, and the nights we choose to remember. To time travellers. To chefs.