When people get ready to go see a performance they look in the closet to see which black shirt they will wear. Is it formal, maybe the button shirt? Is it casual, perhaps the organic cotton t-shirt? But I was reaching into my closet wondering trail shoes or road running shoes. Sounds more like I was going running right? Well, kind of, but not really.
I was getting dresses to go see, ENDURE: A RUN WOMAN SHOW that begins at Brooklyn’s Old Stone House in Park Slope but takes place in Prospect Park. Before I go any further I must tell you, everyone who has ever run a race, everyone who is running a fall marathon and everyone who has ever even thought about running a race or a marathon or is in any way interested in running or dynamic theater has got to go see ENDURE.
To began I was at Brooklyn’s Old Stone House getting my entry number. Each ticket is a clever race number that you pin on your shirt. Your race captains hand you a cued up I-pod to hang around your neck. It is playing an original score composed by Sweden-based singer-songwriter Christine Owman. The beats of it made me want to jump around and start running. It was relaxing yet engaging at the same time. I really don’t have language to describe music so I will say it was really cool.
We start walking along 3rd Street toward Prospect Park, springing along to the music behind out race leader, Producer Suchan Vodoor. Each time we saw a person walk or jog by we’d think, “Is this is? Are they an actor?” We walked into the park paying close attention to what is happening around us. We stop. A voice comes on. It is Melanie Jones, Canadian writer and performer of ENDURE. She is talking about racing, about lining up. We see a beautiful woman, a runner not too far from us. There is a countdown, 5,4,3,2,1 we are off. We are asked to run to the end of the trail. We see the beautiful runner dash behind some bushes, we want to chase her, to see who she is, where she is going.
As we follow we are lend through the woods, down pathways, over trigs and down hills. But don’t worry if you are not a runner, walking is also very much encouraged and anyone can participate.
Melanie physically leads us as we listen to her thoughts on the I-pod. Those thoughts that every runner has, excitement, self-doubt, pain, but what makes this really special is that she shares all those things we don’t talk about. Like “hey perfect little pony tail, perfect running, I am going to bury you.” Well not exactly those words but words to that affect, words that a “nice person” may not say but deep inside we are not nice, we are there to conquer, picking our nemesis and attacking! We are taken on a ride, a run, that moves up and down from depression to exuberance, from being the weirdo to being the coveted, from being a non-runner to a marathoner. Quoting from her press release:
ENDURE is inspired by Melanie Jones experience – training for and completing her first marathon. “During a long run or a race, every human emotion comes up at one point or another: rage, bliss, boredom, despair, peace,” remarks Jones. “That, to me, was incredibly rich dramatic ground to draw from…” Admittedly, when she first began her training, the prospect of running 26.2 miles nearly killed her. But eventually, she learned that simply putting one foot in front of the other could save her life.
This is theater in a whole new form. The audience becomes part of the piece; it goes far beyond “audience participation.” The more willing you are to interact the more you get from the show. For a runner you get pulled in every direction of the marathon distance and the months of training leading up to it. You get a lot of surprises, especially because it is set in Prospect Park. A scene that takes place on a park bench may now be occupied by an old man feeding squirrels or near the finish line a bride or a perhaps piñata will be waiting for you.
Here is a short clip:
I have been thinking about this show every day since seeing it. I recall it on my long run. I recall it doing my repeats on the track. The show is themed around the marathon but it is about a whole process of evolution, the changes we go through and adaptations along the way. Melanie takes us up and down and around, emotionally and physically unfolding the narrative in a powerful way. You will not get any better marathon motivation than you get from attending ENDURE.
Collision Productions, Inc., founded in 2010 by Kym Bernasky and Melanie Jones, is a dynamic artistic partnership focused on the creation and development of innovative new work by crossing artistic disciplines. Collision craves (and creates) environments, works of art, and experiences that are transformative, uplifting, life-affirming…and magical.
ENDURE: A RUN WOMAN SHOW
September 24 through October 23
Saturdays and Sundays – 10AM & 3PM
Old Stone House, Park Slope Brooklyn
(Ticket Office on 3rd Street at corner of 4th and 5th Aves.)
Run Time: 70 Minutes