You can’t put hats on the bed in my family. Never. My grandma once explained it as a superstition about how everyone throws their coats and hats on the bed at a Shiva (a Jewish gathering to support a mourner after a close relative has died), so if you put a hat on the bed, you’re basically inviting DEATH. TRAGEDY AND DOOM. However, when I asked her again recently, she flatly denied that origin, and said she has no idea where this custom of anxious avoidance comes from. Unable to be pinned down and explained, the fear just hangs in the air and makes my throat close up anytime I accidentally drop a hat on a bed.
That tipping, floating, dropping sensation when you dream of falling, when you fall asleep in the car, when you’re dizzy when you close your eyes. What if your safe, comfy nest of a bed, the place where it’s ok to be naked and open and unaware--what if it took off and flew while you slept? What if you woke up smothered in hundreds of comforters, comforted into oblivion? What if all your dreams of flying came true and it was suffocatingly sinister?
Wrangling stories is like taming a bed in flight. The ideas and words are all that’s keeping you from plummeting down to ground level again, and yet they have a way of getting out of hand. SHIVER has had so many iterations, so much exploration. Lists and lists of anxieties, characters and whole storylines left behind in amongst the vicious pillows, morals that wafted away like stray goose feathers. Only the strongest survived.
How does a character survive, in this setting of shivers down the spine, in a world where everything is dangerous and out to get you and all you have are your wits? Oh wait, we realized early on. That’s sort of exactly like the real world we live in.
And so the Project: Project Core set out on a convoluted, unorthodox heroes’ journey to explore fear--how it limits us, how it empowers us, how it’s a deep necessity and an anguished prison at the same damn time.
Fear, at its most basic level, seems to me to limit our ability to connect. Our character Charlotte wrestles with a paralysis around connecting to her brother; our little boy seems barred from relationship because of his inability to fear; our Grimm brothers can’t talk to each other about the most vulnerable issues in their lives because of their fear of loss. Perhaps the way to tame a flying bed is to put a hat on it, a symbol of the connectedness of a community as it supports its mourners through the moments they feared the most. Perhaps love, connection, intimacy of any sort, is the antidote to anxiety?
Holy hats on the bed! (as Jeff has taken to exclaiming). That got deep. Well, maybe flying beds and hats are just as absurd as they sound, and maybe laughing about it together is the real answer to fear. One of the joys of collaborative work is that you keep each other giggling--and it’s thrilling to finally invite an audience to collaborate with us in this uproarious world of terror and laughter.