After an argument with a director over an actor's wig ended in tears, I thought, "Why do we care so much?" I mean, it was just a wig, right? But the choice of a wig not only shows the audience who the character is, it helps tell the story. And the fact that a director and a writer couldn't agree means we weren't telling the same story.
But so what? It's just another opening, another show. Why were we behaving as if our lives depended on this decision? Sure, sometimes it's ego, or stress, or power, but I think the impulse goes far deeper.
Since the beginning of recorded time, humans have gathered in the dark and told stories, stories that instruct us how to live. People drew the slaying of the bison on the cave wall not to brag (okay, maybe a little) but to show that it could be done. Their experiences taught them that the world is a dangerous, random and chaotic place. So they told stories to legislate against the fear. And if they couldn't agree on the same story, they could get eaten by a bison.
Fast forward a few thousand years, where humans still gather in the dark to tell stories, stories that make order out of a world that is still dangerous, random and chaotic. When we can't agree, even about a wig, something deep in our DNA tells us that we could die. More importantly, there's an audience waiting in the dark to be shown how to survive.
By the way, it turns out the director and I were both right: we weren't telling the same story. But the director's was the better one.
Marc Acito has been nominated in the The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical category for The Hub Theatre's Birds of a Feather.