What is it about?
Fade centers on a relationship between a young television writer and a janitor, both of whom work in the same building. Their friendship encompasses a wide range of issues – from identity to family.
What I experienced?
Fresh off a snowstorm, I had to struggle to make my way to the theater. This one is particularly out of the way, tucked into a corner in Greenwich Village, so it better be worth it. And having been lucky enough to score a front row seat, the night was already off to a good start!
The actors opened up the play talking in Spanish. That took me for a whirl. I think I am just so conditioned to theater being predominantly in English. Sometimes there are throwaway lines in another language, but rarely can I say I have been to a play that is truly bilingual. That said, I’m less than a year removed from advanced level college Spanish classes. If I couldn’t at least partially understand things, I would have been disappointed in myself.
I really enjoyed the language change, though, because it heightened my awareness of other kinds of communication. I paid more attention to the actors’ movements, to their voice, to how they interacted with the set. It forced me (as a viewer) to not rely on passive listening. I had to engage with the show to really grasp those moments. (I should probably make more of an effort to catch more bilingual shows - I gotta keep those Spanish skills polished!)
I found multiple times during this show that I was turning away or looking away. I never noticed until now, but I have a tendency to do that when a scene makes me uncomfortable. For example, in one scene the young TV writer betrays the janitor’s trust by using his life story (as the basis for a character). After seeing their relationship develop, I had an emotional investment in their bond. I wanted to see them last and overcome their divides. But at that point in the play that it became clear that they would not last. I instinctively turned away. I think it is my way of disapproving of things, hoping for something different. Maybe if I just pretend it didn’t happen, they could still be friends! Haha, yeah right.
Personally knowing people who shares the same kinds of stories as these two characters – stories of hardship, overcoming obstacles, betrayal and perseverance – made this a far more emotionally invested experience. I was cheering for both of these characters, attempting to will them to succeed. It was extremely difficult to watch this show as an outside observer – the characters felt too real, hit too close to home. I would imagine that for someone who shares a personal story similar to these two characters (they were both of Mexican descent – although very different parts of Mexico) the investment would be even stronger.
There were a couple issues of identity that I couldn’t relate to as much, but the issue of abandoning your roots actually made me think a lot. I have been internally wrestling with this for some time. Without getting too deep into it, my family emigrated to the U.S. from southern Italy in the 1890s. But a lot of that family history has been glossed over as generations assimilated, and I am the polished American product. Seeing these characters balancing their identities made me think about the ones I’ve lost to history, and if I want them back.
This was one of those shows that left me thinking for hours afterwards: about the characters, about the themes, and about how they related to me. I’m always waiting for a play that makes me think in a profound way. Well, Fade definitely fit the bill. I lingered in the theater afterwards thinking about what I just saw (and maybe avoiding the snow and the cold for just a little bit longer).
Want to see it?
What did you experience?
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