The two biggest subjects in theater are love and death. Love is the obvious topic -- everything from Shakespeare to the latest frothy musical is obsessed with romantic dynamics -- but the focus on death is not nearly as obvious, even though it’s just as ubiquitous. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at
some recent RVA offerings:
Cadence’s APPROPRIATE: family gets together because patriarch has died,
RTP’s THE NORMAL HEART: all about the AIDS crisis,
our production of AN OAK TREE: father deals with the death of his daughter,
TheatreLAB’s MOTH: well, not to be a spoiler but…,
Quill’s ROMEO & JULIET: love AND death rolled in together.
You don’t see death spotlighted in marketing associated with shows; an exception may be the delicious advertising the Virginia Opera rolled out this season, the Lucia di Lammermoor photos being particularly dramatic. In general, though, death doesn’t seem as sexy a draw for audiences. While a festival called Acts of Faith grabs the interest of thousands of Richmonders every year, would a similar festival focused on death (“The Sixth Stage” maybe?) draw as much interest?
Maybe the topic makes people uncomfortable. I’d say what’s more likely is that people are fascinated by the subject but it’s just not as comfortable for anyone to admit fascination with it. If you’re overly-focused on love you’re considered romantic or love-struck or maybe sentimental. Talk too much about death? There’s something macabre or grisly, possibly sinister about that, right?
Well, like with so many others things, we’re subverting that assumption at Firehouse by spotlighting a fabulous local talent, Alane Cameron Ford, whose Death Club Radio has been a favorite on WRIR-FM, the public radio station, for years.
This coming Wednesday, Ford will bring her calm, inquisitive, good-humored demeanor to the Firehouse stage in a live taping of her show. It’ll include the Daily Something Weird and Hidden History and other aspects of her radio show that you may be familiar with. She’ll be interviewing one of the experts she has at her disposal who will enlighten us about how we die or why we die or what happens when we die. Ford does more than making talking about death palatable: she makes it entertaining, engaging, and often very funny.
Best of all, you’ll be able to ask questions. And admit it, there is something about death that you’ve always wanted clarified or explained, right? Some myth or story you’ve wanted either debunked or verified? Admitting it doesn’t make you macabre -- it just makes you human.