During college one summer I worked at a hostel off the bay of Newfoundland. I went through that phase where I tried to be off-the-grid, grew a patchy beard, quit using bookmarks, etc. My appendix ruptured the first week I arrived, causing me to walk down the halls of the hostel for three weeks bent over on a cane, carrying bed sheets on my back. I look emaciated by design, so the cane and soggy posture worried the tenants-- often offering to carry their own bedsheets for me. 

My boss also felt sorry and invited me to join this backyard fire-pit where neighbors would bring kindling and blankets. Most were seasoned travelers which, I quickly learned, also meant they'd mastered telling a story or two.

A good story is a slow-building war with a giant force we're hesitant to face. Story doesn’t necessarily ask the question, but it faces it like a little boy with a slingshot prepared to go down trying. 

My stories are as queer as I am. I'm interested in exploring the expiration date of this planet, of our country, of a person-- and the epic manner in which we'll arrive. 

Everyone around that fire came from somewhere else but their stories all belonged in the same book. You grow so close and intimate with a group, your laughs can play off each other, can synchronize. The details of one microscopic moment pierces a hole into the atmosphere of the room and suddenly you hear the whole universe creeping in. Then the story was over and we were once again strangers. 

One evening my boss pulled me aside and said, “Just wanted to say, I appreciate how much humor you put in all your stories, Craig.” I teared up. I thanked him. I spent the rest of the summer pretending my name was Craig. 

 

This growing warmth that heats up anytime we make sense of things took up space deep behind the solar plexus years ago. All of a sudden every detail around us seems significant and infinite, every second an opportunity to crowdsource for empathy, light seeks light.

CONTACT

a play about penguins and people

4W, 3M

Salty follows a pen of cheeky penguins and a flock of zookeepers on a bittersweet journey to what might be the end of the world-- set years from now at one of the nation's few remaining zoos. Nature's on her way out and taking everybody with her. Exploring gender, sexuality, and parenthood, this tragicomedy unearths the instinctual need to love in an otherwise destructive world. A fishy cocktail of delightful humor and devastation, Salty is an exhibit on life that peers through the glass with brave compassion.

plays

Featured production by Lyra Theater, directed by Benita de Wit, scenic design by Sam Schanwald, lighting design by Cha See, costume design by Emily White. Photos by Kurt Sneddon.

"Eye-opening play"

Natasha Dawsen, Outerstage

history is trauma

3W, 2M

Mack is a professional hypnotist on the brink of a new clinical procedure that allows patients to re-write or erase past traumas. Close Your Eyes and Sleep explores mental trespassing and how persuasion works in our every day, our government, and our past. Some say hypnotism is the art of falling asleep, perhaps we're all trying to wake up. Warning: this play contains hypnotic inductions.

Featured workshop-production by Planet Connections Theater Festivity, directed by Andrew Lark and Vanessa Bontea, lighting design by Ry Burke, costume design by Cristina Andrade. Photos by Hannah Cava.

© 2015 by Aaron Johnson. All rights reserved.