Nevertheless, she persisted.
Whispers behind the curtain
As the performance winds it way
Skillful facade of lean too frames
Thus the audience is transported
And the Stage Director never appears.
I can feel her growth in the pages that were left behind. A theatrical resume of her time behind scenes and the stage. Pages of notes and designs left in a dumpster. The trash didn’t matter to her, the school year was done and she was going back to her small town in Michigan. Time in the big city had come to an end, and she purged the memory.
It was the diary that made me pause. To see an unfinished moment of time, left for reasons that only she knew. Isabelle wrote her name on the back of the front cover, and didn’t write another thing. Who can blame her? Opera theater is more time consuming than her first year. This wasn’t the small time half amateur productions from back home, so she never had the time.
The story of the diary and Isabelle is not easy. She still lives a vibrant life, unaware she has become a project of focus. Dumpster Archeology found her papers and unfinished diary in a dumpster at Webster University and some lines were crossed. Trespassing for one, invasion of privacy and unauthorized exposure. If this wasn’t Art, it could be considered criminal. Those early Graffiti artists risked life and limb to push the boundaries, those Abstract artists faced a Russian dictatorship and the punk rock mentality that expresses the complete lack of privacy at the heart of this Dumpster Archeology project.
One supposes in the modern world that no one actually cares for the remnant things one throws into a dumpster.
Who is Isabelle? That is the question left by these artifacts. A digging around and “a doing” of the thing I am skilled at doing. Finding inspiration in the mundane and expressing the wonder of existence in an artistic heart felt honoring.
The next step made sense to me, as the diary itself called out. Fill me with memory, it said. That is the purpose of a diary after all, and the sad little diary, with a beautiful floral print wanted to be used. I didn’t want to fill it with any old story, after all… her name is written in it. I wanted to fill it with her life.
It doesn’t take much to find out an awful lot…. about a person. A name and a location, then their life becomes available online, depending on their particular social proficiency, it becomes a matter of quantity. She was the right age for that facebook history, the instagram photos and a public record. There she is smiling behind the scenes, excitingly writing about her lastest adventure in theater.
Combine that with the discovered resume and we got a big story. I know where she went to high school and the tiny roles she had. Community theater gave her confidence and experience and with each performance, her roles grew. Musicals were her cat nip. Isabelle went to Webster University in St Louis for one reason….. Conservatory of Theatre Arts.
While she was working on a degree, and still working the academic theatre world, she was a stage hand and master carpenter. Next came the summertime and she had a few months back in the old bedroom, hanging out as an “adult”, world traveled now, and letting go of the stress. Fall was months away and the whole cycle began again, with no time to fill out that little diary.
Nevertheless ..she persisted.
The front cover had those words and I understood what kind of person she was. Her dreams were coming true. She was doing what she loved. Isabelle was an inspiration and the little diary wanted to be filled with her memory.
Printing Instagram photos is easy. First road trip to St Louis with her mother is there. The School itself got some love from the camera. She loved ice cream and regularly posted her favorites. There is a photo of her team from the Community Theater gigs and her desk covered with stage designs and scrips. There are some her best friend who came to visit and those happy moments when she saw a Michigan sunset, missing home and wishing there was more snow in St Louis.
The diary has a certain time-line to it, set by the public online persona of our Stage director. It is a movement from student into thespian. The internet is full of stage production photos, crew shots, and bill art work to discover. The clippings went into the diary, as did the little “likes”, hyper links and social media advertising. The diary wasn’t just a diary anymore, it became art.
Someday Isabelle might be a famous director, working in New York, or maybe she moves back home to do what she loves, where she loves. Someday she might find out she became an art project. The diary is hers and she can have it back. It is her memory and her life.
The dairy will return to it’s owner some day.
In the meantime there is this parable, about a diary tossed away unfulfilled. A tale of its transformation from trash to art. A story of a student who persisted in becoming exactly what she dreamed she could become. A modern day hero, who transgressed the unknowable, and was captured in a side glance from a public losing it’s own little stories to the fabrication of mass media.
Isabelle is the Stage Manager and this is her diary.