What’s it about?
Set against the backdrop of New York City, Origin Story is a one-man show illustrating snippets of playwright and actor William DeMeritt's mind as he grapples with some of life's heaviest losses.
What'd I experience?
With the latter half of summer already upon the world the streets of Crown Heights are dark as I walk them just after 8pm. I walk several blocks looking for the theatre without really knowing what to look for - Brooklyn theatres have a tendency to hide in plain site. I walk past a building with its shutters partly drawn on the ground floor, concealing the top half of heavily curtained windows and a doorway. A woman appears to be talking to someone inside and promptly disappears through the doorway. The whole setup strikes me as a little strange but my New Yorker mind tells me to keep walking. It isn’t till I reach the end of the block when I realize that the mysterious doorway has to lead to the theatre.
I lower my head as I walk under the shutter and step up into a small and warmly lit space. There are clusters of mismatched chairs surrounding what looks like a stage area, indicating that this is, indeed, an independent Brooklyn theatre.
I take a seat and pass time finishing up text conversations and looking at an illustration of Batman onstage. I have no idea what to expect from the show, but, as always, I’m eager to see how someone is (or isn’t) able to single-handedly captivate a room full of people expecting to be entertained and moved.
The lights are soon turned off and onto the stage walks William DeMeritt. As he sits down a light projection of a window breaks up the darkness next to him. I am so mesmerized by how real the illusion of this window looks that I almost don’t notice that DeMeritt has taken on the persona of a stereotypical grandmother concerned about her grandchild’s eating habits and unkempt hair.
When the grandmother stands up she turns into a new person. In fact, in each time DeMeritt stands he takes on a different character and soon he’s filled the stage with several different people - their voices, words, and wounds.
I am particularly touched by the actor who is stuck in studio on the anniversary of their mother’s death. Something feels different as DeMeritt plays this character. Unlike the other characters, this character’s words don’t really feel like a recollection of past conversations with other people. Their words feel more like an ejection of feelings that bubble within a person, never really leaving their mind or body.
I can hear DeMeritt’s cries of loss through this character’s words but having never experienced loss of the same stature, I can’t really feel it. He stands a few feet from me, talking about how every year, with every anniversary, there will be fewer and fewer people who remember his mother. As I listen all I can think about is how, of all the different ways in which people are divided and alienated from one another, one thing we can all count on is someday experiencing the feelings of subtle devastation that DeMeritt describes. I may not feel what he feels now but isn't it only a matter of time?
Want to see it?
:( Sorry. This show is no longer showing.