More reflections on Best Before
February 01, 2010
By Best Before audience member Nita Bowerman
I found myself talking about Best Before with a random stranger on the bus after the show. I went home and journaled some more after that. Now I have a mind that drifts toward the philosophical, yet, it is not all that often that theatre compels me to reflect so thoroughly on my choices – my actions – in life and how I have situated myself within my larger community.
This experience – and I must interject that this is what draws me to the theatre, that it is an experience, and a shared one at that – was interactive, yet, for the most part, anonymous. Being anonymous, I was free to make any choice I wanted without the fear of judgment from my fellow players/actors. I could have chosen to be anybody. Yet, for the most part I found that I chose to be myself. Does this make me less than adventuresome, or is it a testimony to my satisfaction with the choices I have made in my life? Where I chose differently, do I experience regret in the ‘real world?’ Or, perhaps more importantly, are there choices that we have made that we can unmake, so to speak? Yes, we can see within the context of this game that all choices have consequences. Also, we see the variety of lenses through which people filter the world – socially, politically, and ethically – and the effect that their perceptions and actions have on themselves and their relationships.
I must note here that I was absolutely shocked to see that 3 of the 4 political candidates in Bestland on preview night were anti-abortion. It sometimes comes as a surprise to me when I encounter views that are radically different than mine, views that I sometimes convince myself belong to a bygone era. It is a reminder that we live in a world with a myriad of conflicting perceptions.
And how does one deal with conflict? Perhaps the most frustrating question for me was the one about Bestland building an army. The question: how many people must die before the pacifists turn away from their peace loving (naivety?). Should cheaters be incarcerated? (Isn’t there a kinder way to teach them the value of honesty and fairness?) So, we have some fundamental questions about the nature of humanity. We don’t necessarily have any answers. We have a series of choices we can make, actions we can take.
The shifts from gaming to onstage storytelling action with actors who were more like everyday people sharing personal experiences from their lives, put the gaming into a framework that was less about playing a game and more about making real choices. It made the experience more personal and more reflective. For me, Best Before became a tool to examine myself and my community. That is not to say that I didn’t also have fun. Because what is life if there is not joy as well…even if it is had running away from the dreaded flu!
I am reminded that I hold my own controller.
– Nita Bowerman
Nita is a Vancouver performer, and a theatre and costume maker. She is currently engaged in multiple projects with The Only Animal, including performing in you and the moon, part of the Micro-Theatre Series at The Cultch.
Best Before is part of the 2010 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and is presented with Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad and The Cultch. January 29- February 6, 2010 at 7pm (weekend matinees Sat 2pm and Sun 4pm), The Cultch. Click here for full details.