POST: 'Gorey' - is it okay to live without happiness, if you live without sadness?

What's it about?

Gorey tells the story of the artist Edward Gorey through interactions between the young, middle-aged, and old Gorey.

What'd I experience?

I had no clue what to expect going in to this show. I had no idea who Edward Gorey was, so I looked up his art and saw that it was sort of Tim Burton-esque. I figured "hey this is probably going to be spooky" so I went to see it. No further research, just a look at a few weird pictures and I was off.

When I got to the theater I was surprised when the usher invited me on stage in order to check out the wall in the back. It was filled with various writings and artwork by Gorey, and it was all so intriguing. I was mostly fixated on this one series of drawings that included this little penguin guy that despite his appearance I found oddly adorable. He seemed reoccurring in a lot of pieces, and I figured he was meaningful to Gorey. Later on, when I found out that the little guy was named Doubt, it gave him a way more eerie appearance and was the first big mystery surrounding Gorey that I was faced with. Why would this man personify Doubt into such a cute little creature like this? And why was he so riddled with Doubt that it/he was so persistent and prominent in his work? After a while I was told to find my seat and the show began.

The show takes place after Gorey's death but is mostly outside of time, so there's no real timeline to any of the events shown. The way stories were presented to us were in a "found" order, where the they would go down the list of items found in his house and for each prominent one they would tell a story. "They" by the way, were Gorey, Gorey, and Gorey. Yes, it was very weird. The first Gorey was him when he first moved into the house and was beginning his career, the second Gorey was him when he started to gain some notoriety and became a little "famous," and the last Gorey was him towards the end of his life. This was a really interesting way to look at this man's life. All three of them would talk to each other about the objects and events associated with them, almost like a group of friends (which to be honest is how I would plan to talk to myself if I ever met another version of me. Yes, I prepare for this kind of stuff.) Young Gorey would get excited or fearful of things that the older Gorey's would say were going to happen, the older Gorey's would have a beautiful reminiscence whenever young Gorey would talk about an old memory. 

As more and more items were discovered, more and more stories were shared, and the mystery behind Gorey would either grow or become a little clearer. Although a lot of the scenarios were very unique to Gorey (he was quite the strange man), there was a weird familiarity to them. He struggled with such common issue like loneliness, belonging, doubt in his own work, yet he had his own way of dealing with them, ways that weren't really that clear. And he never really knew or stated that he was happy either, he more so just accepted everything about himself and the world. It gave me such a weird sensation, like I felt bad for him but at the same time I didn't. Like he said, he didn't really know if he was happy yet he never said that he was sad either. Is this a problem? I honestly don't know and I'm still thinking about it even. Maybe it is a comfortable way to live. Is it okay to live without "happiness," if you are living without sadness too? That really messes with my mind.

The big thing I realized by the end of the show was that despite learning so much about the man, I actually left the show knowing less about Gorey. Throughout the show they would just say "what" they would find in his house, but not the "why." Yeah he had a suitcase filled with 60 pounds of scrap metal, but why? And yeah he had a collection of handmade dolls, but WHY? Instead of solving the mystery of Gorey, I was just presented with an even bigger mystery and I love it. I want to read his books, study his artwork, and try to slightly understand this truly mysterious man. I feel like the show hasn't ended yet, and I've just barely scratched the surface of what Edward Gorey has to offer.


 

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Gorey
HERE Arts Center
thru May 22