TJ Dawe-Director of PostSecret: The Show
From TJ Dawe:
I’ve been involved in this show in various capacities for close to six years now. I’ve read and heard thousands of secrets. Certain impressions have been coalescing from it all. Here’s what I’ve learned:
-Anxiety and depression are very common, and might be a big part of the inner experience of anyone you know.
-Tell the people in your life you love them. Don’t put off opportunities to spendtime with them. They could be gone before you know it.
-People can be moved to tears at a confession of suicidal depression and in the next breath laugh uproariously at a fart joke.
-If you’ve made it to adulthood without suffering some kind of trauma or violation, consider yourself very, very lucky.
-People fear being alone perhaps more than anything.
-The healing power of a good, long belly laugh cannot be overstated.
-Many people harbour unrequited loves and lasting regrets for decades.
-Struggles with suicidal feelings are widespread, and often hidden.
-We think we’re alone with whatever we’re holding inside. We think it isolates us, makes us freaks and outcasts. Most of us feel this way.
-We’re not alone.
From Kahlil Ashanti:
My family attended an early table read of PostSecret: The Show in Washington DC. I think it was June 2012. I was so excited for them to see what I was working on, hoping that they would validate my efforts with praise. It was my Dad and one of his sisters. I don’t see them often and we’re not close (long story), but I’m not often on the East Coast so wanted to make an effort.
When I say this was early in the development of the show – I mean early. Three music stands, a projector with a screen, three actors and three stools. We were in a small room at the back of a conference room, reading off of scripts. The creative team (myself, Sudds, Frank and TJ) had flown in from Vancouver a few nights before and Frank invited local PostSecret fans as well as some of the general public to attend and offer their feedback.
Folding chairs, dark room, and some snacks. Nothing fancy. We wanted the postcards to speak for themselves.
The gasps, tears and muted laughter from the small audience was overwhelming. Their feedback was encouraging and challenging. We still had a lot of work to do. We also realized that we were creating more than a theatrical piece – something bigger than ourselves.
My family left early. They hated it. My aunt just shook her head as she left the room. And we have never spoken about it since. That hurt. But it also let me know we were truly on to something.
Why has PostSecret stood the test of time? Because it forces us to face our innermost fears, doubts and hopes in uncomfortable ways. It has been an exciting and difficult journey to translate PostSecret to the stage. Larry Moss, the famous acting coach often says ‘the best theatre is when you feel like you shouldn’t be watching’. I would add to that – ‘but you can’t stop’.
Frank Warren has created a safe space for people to share their secrets and that has now extended to PostSecret: The Show. Given the multiple distractions of social media and digital communication that eat up so much of our time, it’s easy to think we have more ways to communicate than ever before. I think we have more places to hide. Yes, PostSecret is anonymous secrets. But the responses, the power and the community are not. In a world of bloated hype about the next big thing, whether it’s a movie, an app, political candidate or a smartphone, PostSecret remains grounded in authenticity. And that’s why it’s timeless.
PostSecret: The Show is on at the Firehall Arts Centre until March 5. Get your tickets now!