Watch, The Fever; Find Truth.
The Fever by 600 Highwaymen, is creating new relationships with audiences and performers in their highly intimate immersive production. My experience began by being in the theatre transformed into a room with warm amber light, a large red gridded floor, and seeing the warm faces of fellow classmates. I became entranced by the slightly feverish energy that started to build in the room as a light cue signaled the start. Then we started to play, with following and leading, with stopping and starting, not unlike some of the Mary Overlie's viewpoint work. Then everyone was quickly faced with a choice, to participate or to watch.
A single actor asked for a volunteer to join them. This moment was made clear through eye contact, questioning, and sincere invitations to join the actor in simple movement. Slowly audience members, by choice or not, participated in the symbolic creation of the story.
I had seen an early version of the The Fever at the Experimental Theatre Wing’s at Tisch School of the Arts. So my hopes were high that I would be chosen to participate once again. But when then the lights dimmed my judgement faded. Everything I thought that I knew about what ‘this was’ was altered by the way the production made me seesocial landscapes, norms, and stigmas in the most subtle ways. This version was different from the ETW version. From seeing who stood up when they requested the strongest person in the room, to the first one to help a man get up from the floor, I witnessed complete strangers making intimate decisions.
The show was split into three main sections. First audience members were mostly chosen, then a people volunteered, followed by an ensemble section. This show, teaches us how to see and act. In the middle section of the show, I faced a wall of the indecisiveness. A new actor entered the space, the lights were turned off and he asked someone to join him. My heart started racing and the next thing I knew I was fully lit in the space being asked to step closer, after my first position opposite the actor was a bit far away. Then, the audience disappeared and there I was with the actor. He said, “it’s going to be okay.” I took a deep breathe and dropped in. He asked me to touch his face and to twirl him again and again. Then to take his hand and to walk around the room with him, faster and faster till were were full speed chasing each other. I felt like two kids on a playground at morning recess bursting to get out of the musty classrooms, to chase imaginary dreams, to get moving, break into a sweat. Exhausted by the run we collapsed on the floor and were just breathing, the heaviest I’ve breathed in a while. I looked up at him and looked at the lights and thought, life’s too short to wait to be chosen, I’ve got to chose. This was the mantra I discovered through this piece, and it's bringing me closer to my truth.
Life is full of these spiraling moments, running towards and pulling away, making intimate connections with people by allowing them to see you and seeing them. This interaction in The Fever taught me so much about the tendency I have test the waters before I leap, to freak out instead of drop in and to find the shore in this sea of chaos. Then to move on, and give that gift to the next person. It’s astounding, humanity’s ability to care for one another, while neglecting others. As my friend Carson points out, it is amazing what we can find out about ourselves from how relationships evolve by “just playing along” with what is happening before us, in the moment, fully, yourself.