When you hear the word “bilingual” what do you picture in your mind? International, business-y personnel? Or one of those lucky kids who happened to have parents who speak different languages? Or growing up in a different country? Well, I’m don’t fit in any of those scenarios, except being international, sure, but that’s about it. None of my family speaks English. I learned it in school because I had to, and was awful at it. I hated the subject throughout the years of forced education. But then life turns in a strange way, and somehow I ended up in this city with an unpronounceable name for almost a decade now. My every day life is in English. I ask myself over and over again: “What am I doing here?”
My mother tells a story about a time when I was young—3-years-old or 4—and I was trying desperately to get the swing I was seated on moving. My little legs kicked and kicked but I stayed motionless. After a minute or two, an adult came over and gave me a push and that’s all it took. I caught the momentum and I was swinging! As she tells it, I turned to the little boy on the swing next to mine and exclaimed in a giddy, high-pitched voice “I was getting so frustrated! Were you getting frustrated, too, Brooksie? I was getting so frustrated!”
From the moment you arrive, Iron Age Theatre’s production of Sam Shepard’s BURIED CHILD, directed and designed by John Doyle and Randall Wise, thrusts you into a deeply disturbing world of grime, decay, and depression. Mounds of barren dirt, wood chips, and dried-out stalks surround and invade a tumbledown farmhouse with a rusted old mailbox that hasn’t seen a delivery in years. Inside, a filthy stained sofa with torn-up upholstery and torn-out stuffing is held together by black duct tape, as huge gaps between the rough-hewn wall slats let in the pouring rain and dreary darkness of a relentless storm.
Writing this play has been hard. It feels like squinting into the distance at an object that I think I should be identifiable but is just too blurry. Luckily, I have a cohort on this trek. If you met Lena (Barnard) and I, it would feel a lot like an episode of Gilmore Girls or the West Wing. We talk over each other and make obscure references and laugh at inside jokes that no one else gets. Being around Lena makes me feel entirely secure. I can be myself with her. I like to think the feeling is mutual. Who else will get all her Julie Andrews references?