02 September 2010

Jump In, Hang On, Krishna Riffs

Suzan-Lori Parks is one of my favorite contemporary playwrights.  A few years back, she published a collection of short plays, 365 Days/365 Plays; she wrote a play a day for a year!  When she was done, selections from the plays were performed by theatre companies all over the country.  One can't help but admire the dedication with which Parks practiced her art every day, and the results are pretty remarkable, like one long improv jazz suite.  One of my favorite plays in the collection is the first, Start Here, in which the characters, Krishna and Arjuna, have a conversation about the illusion of free will and what it means to let go of our attachments in order to take up an unfamiliar path.  As in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna is the wise one, Arjuna the sometimes reluctant student.  While the characters are derived from an ancient text and the theme itself is eternal, the groovy language of the play is all Parks':  Check out this excerpt in which Krishna riffs, encouraging Arjuna to take the plunge into a new reality:
Krishna: Yr having 2nd thoughts.  I understand.  Everything you own, everything you are, everything you know is back there, right ? Yr not prepared, you think.  You forgot to pack yr toothbrush.  You forgot to lock the front door.  You forgot to turn on the machine.  You forgot to turn off the stove.  You may have left the bathwater running.  You dont speak the language of --wherever it is we're headed.
Arjuna: Right.
Krishna:  Hear that sound?
Arjuna: Sounds like leaves moving in the wind.
Krishna: Its the sound of writing. Theyre writing yr name in the Book.
Arjuna: My name?
Krishna: Why not yr name?
Arjuna: Im afraid. A little.
Krishna: Good.
At the start theres always energy.  Sometimes joy. Sometimes fear. By the end, youll be so deep in the habit of continuing on youll pray youll never stop. Happens all the time. But dont take my word for it. Lets go and youll see for yourself.
Get up. There you go. Breathe. Okay. Come on.
Doesn't Parks just make you want to jump in and hang on? Keep going! Remember to breathe!