By Jenan Jacobson
I lay in bed last night having what my sleep-deprived brain would call an identity crisis. This was following a day that put things into dramatic perspective. I had spent much of the afternoon and morning slumping around, doing little and aspiring to nothing. I read a little bit, pet my cats, took an aimless walk in the park, but the day was filled with a sense of listlessness. Rarely have I considered myself indolent, but the ennui that gripped me was overwhelming and inescapable. I could come up with tons of excuses for myself—I work hard most of the time, and gee, school has really taken it out of me, and I really do deserve some down time, etc. I had halfhearted visions of doing something creative, being purposeful and generating something new,but every time I moved to start writing or painting, I would fall into the old rut of wondering what was the point if I was never going to be great? This tiring day filled with the heft of undeserved nothing was followed by a dinner where we hosted some family friends. There is nothing worse than answering for yourself and trying to sound like you know what you’re doing or where you’re going when you’ve been wallowing in a state of stasis. As a college student, there is never any reprieve from the looming question: what are you going to do after school?
Lin-Manuel Miranda, creative genius behind Hamilton, is a consistent tweeter. He repeatedly posts messages on the app, and what’s more, they are little bits of literary cheerleading. He assures us that we are great, and then admonishes his followers not to waste their time, and get going, doing whatever it is we need to be doing. While encouraging in some ways, it is also daunting, if only because the chances of reaching his level of creative production are slim to none.
Given this mood I found myself in, it was remarkably refreshing to read Erin Moughon’s Just Say it Three Times. These were characters I recognized: stuck in their lives, unsure of what they need to be doing, and living in a way that does little to maximize any potential they have. Starting out with characters like these, stuck in a situation I imagine many are familiar with, it becomes clear that this is a play that is going to confront these attitudes. And who better to lead it than a poet from the 1800s, Aphra Behn? Summoned through dubious means, she is intent on radically changing how these people think about the ways they are conducting their lives and making use of their inherent potential? We’ve all looked up at figures who seem to have done more than is humanly possible—Shakespeare, da Vinci, Martin Luther King Jr., etc.—and been both inspired, but also cowed by the feeling of inadequacy when confronted with these great thinkers and doers. However, what I think this play does an amazing job showing is that these are the people we need in our lives to encourage us and inspire us. It’s a delicious chance to put aside reservations and ask: Why can’t I be the next Shakespeare? These are the characters we need to motivate us, these are the giants whose shoulders we are standing on—and with them, perhaps we can aim even higher. Just Say it Three Times got me out of my bed to start writing, and not because I had to, but because I suddenly had the urge to create. Do yourself a favor—if your future seems far too hazy and muddled, and you just don’t know what to do with yourself on these summer days, come see this show.
Have you ever had an “Aha!” moment? Who are your inspirations in life? What are your proudest accomplishments? Comment below!
JUST SAY IT THREE TIMES by Erin Moughon
Joanna and Emilia are spending another night at home drinking and bemoaning the
state of their live – until Joanna summons playwright Aphra Behn to visit them from the
Friday, July 15th at 7pm
Monday, July 18th at 9pm
Thursday, July 21st at 7pm
For tickets go to https://www.therianttheatre.com/item.php?id=256
At the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street, NYC
The Riant Theatre’s Strawberry One-Act Festival