Ethan | They/them
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests
Session 5: February 2, 2023
(The piece starts in full light.)
Hi, my name is Ethan, and I grew up in the theater.
For ten years, I lived in a sanctuary on top of a mountain, kept away from the rest of civilization, where I was expected to focus only on my craft.
(Lights in the room go off, with only the speaker’s face illuminated.)
The stage was my world. I started as an actor, from Greek tragedies to Shakespeare, all the way to contemporary performances—you name it. With a few other artists, we explored all the different theater vocabularies and broke them down to form our own laws of creation. We devised entirely new realities, all with their own laws of physics, of language, and of being.
Once, during a play we were doing, the power went out, and the stage went pitch black. So we decided to light some candles. Even though we could barely see the performers’ faces, we heard their voices, with just enough movement to see the emotion behind them. We did the entire play in the dark, with the storytellers creating a truly memorable experience, in conditions they had never rehearsed. The theater, our tiny little world, bowed down to whatever means we chose to command time and space.
(The dark room grows a little brighter.)
As we all became young adults, our world began to expand. Some left for college, some moved away, and some left the theater practice altogether. As I moved out into the world and into the busy cities, all that I was accustomed to cracked wide open, and I had to work with different people who practice different systems—whether that still be in the theater, or in education, or in political and climate activist groups.
I was introduced to a world that had no time to sit down and exhaust creative needs. A fast-paced world that needed to get things done now. I felt powerless in a world I could not compose. A world that had no time to listen. The sun did not follow my cues, nor could I call forth a gust of wind to simulate a storm, or have a prop-maker make more trees, or stop the floods from entering the city. It just doesn’t work that way. For the first time in my life, I bowed down to the systems that had been put in place years before my birth and the natural laws of the earth that cannot be moved or stopped.
Well how, then, can I make a difference?
(The room goes fully black.)
Change lights. Change lights. Change lights. Lights? Lights?
Well. What I’ve learned is: in a reality filled with chaos that darkens our view, with technology that overcomplicates things, with leaders who refuse to listen, I found hope in remembering simpler times.
(A candle is lit.)
A candle and storytellers to get us through this blackout. When all else fails, our voices are the very foundations of which to rebuild and continue creating our world.
(The candle is blown out.)
Ethan is an actor, filmmaker, director-dramaturg, and performance maker. He just recently graduated from the Philippine High School for the Arts where he majored in Theatre. He is interested in research and explorations of space and time compositions grounded in larger societal contexts.