Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Spiders

photo by jason kravitz on Flickr
I really hate spiders.  The spindley legs that keep the body eerily suspended in the air; pinchers and fangs; the way light reflects off the back of a black widow -- it makes me shiver.  "Necrosis" is one of the most frightening words I've ever encountered.  I fear spider bites to the point where I check my shoes before putting them on every morning.  My yard work gloves are folded so that nothing can crawl inside.  Hell, I check the oven mit before putting my hand inside.

And yet, I am endlessly fascinated by them.  When I find a particularly gruesome subject my first instinct is to capture it in a jar, not squish it.  I need to get as close as possible to really see the damn thing.  To figure it out.

When writing (or making theatre at all) I think it's important to find your spider.  What subject matter or idea scares the living shit out of you?  Go there.  Immerse yourself in the fear, in the revulsion.  Force yourself to confront the unconfrontable.  Pursue dark thoughts down dark alleys, and force them into the light of contemplation.  Even if it doesn't cure you of the fear (I'm still scared of spiders!) you are bound to learn something.  Learning and sharing what we've learned about our basic humanity is the point (I think) of storytelling.

If you're comfortable in the pursuit, you're doing it wrong.

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