The Three Graces, the theater company of which I am a co-founder, is producing 'night, Mother by Marsha Norman as a suicide awareness benefit for the LifeSavers Training Corp, a organization that provides a hotline and counseling services for teens to help them deal with crises. Susie brought up the idea of a benefit dealing with suicide while we were working on Lion in Winter. She thought it would be a great idea for a community theater company to actually benefit organizations within the community. A theater company that helps the community instead of just being another form of entertainment. I thought this was a great idea. So, we decided on producing 'night, Mother because it deals with a topic that is usually never mentioned. Suicide. Suicide is a taboo subject mainly due to religious beliefs, but also due to the painful and confusing emotions is brings up. The problem with this is the fact that suicide and the feelings surrounding it, mainly depression, is extremely prevalent in the world. Almost everyone has thought or knows someone who has thought about it or who has actually succeeded in committing suicide. The statistics were scary when I looked them up for my proposal to the Unitarian Fellowship.
But how does one bring up the subject of suicide? Why is this such a painful topic? I think it's because the people who are left behind, feel guilt and feel the pain because someone they loved hurt so much they killed themselves. I can't imagine what I would do if someone I loved committed suicide. My uncle did so when I was about 12 years old. He had left a note telling his family where he was and what he was going to do. They called a friend of hi and the police and they made it to the cemetary just in time to hear the gunshot. I remember the shock that everyone felt, along with the pain of losing a loved one. I remember people not being able to understand and the feeling of guilt at not being able to help him. At not knowing how much he had been hurting.
I have also dealt with this topic in myself. Depression, loneliness and I have never seen those feelings so accurately portrayed as in 'night, Mother. The play revolves around a daughter, Jessie, telling her mother that she is going to commit suicide. The things that Jessie says. The strength of her conviction, of her decision, is a damn good reflection of those feelings. Mama is the embodiment of all the emotions that the people who are left behind feel. The guilt and pain and confusion. I have never seen the topic discussed so openly and honestly. It is refreshing. The play is painful to watch. It hurts in places that you may have forgotten about. The part of you that you don't let show to other people. The part of you that is the rejected lover. The part of you that feels like a failure or like someone who can never get better. But it does what theater is supposed to do. It makes you look at all the hard parts. It makes you look at all of the emotions and examine them. It makes you look at the world around you and see it in a different way. The theater is supposed to change people. Make them better. Educate them about themselves and the the people and world around them in a way that they can comprehend.and relate to on several levels.. It's purpose is not just to entertain. It is supposed to give a message. If you are brave enough to look at those parts and, even embrace them, I highly recommend that you see a production of 'night, Mother, whether it's the Three Graces production or another production somewhere, some time else. If you can look into the abyss and have the abyss look back at you, if you can look into the darker places, you can come out on the other side a different person,