[This was written last night, but the intertubes were not letting anything through at my house, so I couldn't publish. If you want to know what happened next, I cried a bit, and then went to bed. The end. I'm ok.]
Seriously, guys? Damnit.
So, a friend of mine's roommate is in a Shakespeare class, and there was a show of their final prepared scenes. And my friend was like, look dude, my roommate is awesome, you should come with me, we can go watch some Shakespeare, and maybe some of it will be good, and some of it will be laughably bad, and either way it will be fabulous. And so I did tonight.
My friend's roommate was good. And some of the acting was outrageously bad. But the best actor, by far, was the woman playing Ophelia in three scenes of Hamlet. She was astoundingly talented. She had you gripped by the ribcage; you had to move with her wherever she led you, your heart trapped. Which was especially hard. Because you know that scene she has with Hamlet with the DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and Hamlet GRABBING OPHELIA BY THE THROAT and THROWING HER AGAINST THE WALL and then THROWING HER ON THE FLOOR and generally being SCARY AND THREATENING AS FUCK?
Wait, you don't remember that scene? NEITHER DID I. Until watching this take on it. It was just . . . heart-wrenching. And now I am sitting here and typing and trying not to cry while my fingers tremble. The thing with me is: I never know when I'm going to get triggered. It's not always male violence against women that will do it. It can be any kind of physical violence, like a war scene, or movie violence, or the fucking Oklahoma anti-abortion law that requires rape for undergoing safe, legal medical procedures (seriously, that law? It fucked with my head). Also, full body scanners in airports? Forget it. Those make me go round the bend. I start panicking just imagining myself in one, what with not being able to control who has access to my body (and luckily, I haven't been in one yet, despite my little trip to Dublin).
But this was pretty straightforward tonight, the Hamlet scene with the assault on Ophelia. This was violence by a man against a woman. She is especially vulnerable and able to be manipulated, able to be deeply emotionally gutted, because she loves him. But also, this was Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare. I can quote from memory vast amounts of Shakespeare. I went into this evening hoping to get as much out of the student scenes as possible. The usual walls that I construct because I know I could see something upsetting during a movie, or when talking to someone who has also been raped, or even for just walking down the street, where not up. I was wide open, letting everything in, hoping I would be moved, drawn to some deeper emotion, that the beauty of the words and the acting would dissolve me until there was nothing but the poetry, the feeling, the so very human, sympathetic characters with their stories to tell.
But then there was the violence. With the astounding actress. And that was it for me. Now I am upset. Now I am remembering each and every instance of a strike against my flesh that night I was raped, the especial pain and betrayal that each and every one of those blows was dealt by someone with whom I had been deeply in love for a long time. How, in the end, after such a betrayal, I was emptied, purged, I felt the vast emptiness inside my ribcage, like wind could blow straight through the hollow, and it truly might have, given that I suddenly became rice-paper thin and could barely remain standing, or together, my joints gone loose, my limbs willowy.And, of course, this is what good acting does. That actress was brilliant. I hope she goes on to do a great deal of theatre, because she is so gifted. But now I am stuck crying, and typing, and trying to forget acting so stunning that her attack, her pain, her betrayal, is completely indistinguishable from my own.