Monday, March 29, 2010

Annunciations After the Fact

So Celeste Miller's splendiferously ambitious "The Annunciation...Sort of: Mary Says No" is history, having gotten, so far as I can tell, no reviews during its run.

It deserves more of a review than anyone who didn't take notes could give it, combining as it does alternate takes on our multiverse of discourse, from feminist readings of Mary's laundry-folding condition in Nazareth to a remarkable evocation of the wonderfully lovely and ambiguous history of the Apparition of the Virgin in the water-stained windows of a Clearwater, Florida office building (an image shattered eventually by a troubled slingshot-bearing boy) to explorations of the paradoxes involved in the notion of a divine nature outside of time and continuing all the way to strategies of parthenogenesis in nature and to Charles Darwin's dicta in The Origin of Species, the other primary text for this performance alongside the Gospel of Luke. "Did Mary have volition? Dictionary: define 'volition.'" Change partners; Gabriel ponders the laws of salesmanship and wonders if Mary will buy a vacuum cleaner from him if he lingers long enough in the world of time and learns his lessons well enough. Mary ponders the alternatives to her outright rejection of the original offer. They do not include vacuum cleaners, either.

And Mary of Nazareth in this alternate no-saying option of the multiverse can reach the age of ninety without the burden of knowing that the act of redemption for which she suffered will someday engender wars and inquisitions.

If the offer were of knowledge instead? if Mary were to become a different revealer of this universe, the only one in which we can live, in our one-at-a-time-ness? Gabriel considers the annunciation as the proclamation of discovery, the revealing of a new vision of earth and history. He has been sent off by God to learn about time from Charles Darwin, but as he announces disconsolately, "He refused to see me."

And the dance goes on. And the text and the recitation, improvised and memorized, also. The original text. The performers, and their choices. Mary says, and will say....

We live in a single history of the world, or we think we do. But there is more than one history of the world. And in this city, in this time, in this history, what things slip away almost unnoticed, because they do not suit our tidy categories?

Will we understand, ever, even, what it means to ask if we have the knowledge of our choices?

Well, you won't get the answers from the reviews, because they don't exist. Nor from this curious verbal outbursting.

There is some question as to whether you will even get the question. As though there were only one.

As though how the question were asked would not help determine the universe in which the answer would begin to make any sense.

You had to be there. But who outside the longtime circle of followers could know?

We live in a time bereft of messengers, on a very mundane level.

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