Hands Everywhere: A Reflection on a season of Mayhem in Exile by Leah Franqui

Tue, 05/08/2012

"When are the hands coming?" asks Joe.

"They should be in this week", says Dani. She beams. "Did you know they're giving us the gas cans for free?"

We all agree this is amazing news. Are we butchers? Perverts? Crazy people? Well, maybe, in our time off. But we're are really excited about these hands, because without hands, there is no A Behanding in Spokane.

Here at Theatre Exile, when we do things, we tend to do them all out, without limits or boundaries. So we need a suitcase full of hands, and some free gas cans, if at all possible. Having worked a full season with this company, I can attest to it's commitment to giving the audience everything in it's power. When we build a forest, we build a forest. When our play takes place in the back of a coffee shop, you are going to be able to practically smell the garbage. When we do a show about cutting, we are sure as hell going to show the cutting. And when we do A Behanding in Spokane, well, the hands take center stage. 

Not every company has the courage to do this kind of work. Some would, in fact, call it foolishness, to  produce gritty honest and often emotionally violent plays with limited to no mass appeal in these troubling economic times. After all, most people long for some kind of escapism when they walk into the theater, and the stories we tell aren't really escapes from everyday life, in fact, after some of our stories might make everyday life seem positively blissful. But the thing we strive most for here is honesty, honesty in our characters and honesty in our productions. In an industry of artifice, we are just trying to tell the truth. 

Maybe it's foolish, and maybe it's brave, but it's our work, our style, our way of making theater. Bruised and scarred, but never broken, the stories we tell emerge from the dirt and damage and make you laugh with frank ruefulness as you watch people who are just like you dare to be dark, dare to be funny, dare to be real.

Hands and all.