Here is the opening sequence from my play THE PEOPLE IN MY HIPS. This is the real story.
(SOUND CUE: # THUNDER AND MORE)
(There are 5 “theatre blocks” on stage, 4 center stage with a small step unit in front and on block stage left. Stage right is a TV and a DVD player. On the back wall of the theatre is a HUGE PUPPET with my picture over the head on the puppet. The Picture is photoshopped so that I sort of look like Shiva, or Shiva sort of looks like me. Out in the audience area is a video camera which I can turn on and off with a remote control.)
(Lights up, I appear stage left referencing the giant puppet on the back wall of the theatre.)
Ken: This is Shiva, the Hindu God of Destruction, and subsequent rebirth. SHIVA represents darkness and is often called the 'angry god'. Shiva is tall, ominous and holds a nasty Trident. He has four arms and three eyes. Shiva opens this third eye, in the middle of his forehead only in anger, and the offender is often burnt to cinders.
(Move down stage)
Lord Shiva, the Master of yoga, unifies the physical, mental and spiritual energies to create wholeness. He is also the creator of Dance. His Dance of Anger, the Roudra Tandava is seen and heard across the universe, while his Dance of Joy, the Ananda Tandava is celebrated by few.
Known for his destructive rage, Lord Shiva the Destroyer can be one nasty motherfucker.
(Move to center block)
Hi, my name is Ken Wolf. I am a playwright, an actor, the artistic director of this little theatre here, a personal trainer and Yoga instructor, and this is the story of my 3 year dance marathon with Shiva the Destroyer.
This tale I am about to share with you is absolutely true. As a playwright, I write stories based on my life. I take crazy stories about my relationships, or crazy stories about my family and I put them up on stage, often just changing the names.
Now I don’t have many friends and my family hates me, but I do good work.
This play tonight is very different. This play is a crazy story about about battling the crazy in me, about literally striking back at demons from a childhood which I never knew existed. It’s about struggling in the MASH PIT of my mind for three years as I tried to keep my life together while I danced Shiva’s Dance of Anger with a past long forgotten.
When I was 10 years old, my father had a nervous breakdown and was admitted to ST Vincent’s Psychiatric Hospital in Harrison, NY where he received shock therapy. Now I don’t remember much about that time, but I do remember the ceramic ashtrays that he sent home from his arts and crafts class every couple of weeks. And I didn’t even smoke.
For most of my adult life, I feared that someday I would “lose it” and go crazy and be put away like Dad. This play tonight is a celebration of the fact that I will never ever live out my father’s crazy legacy. Through my People in my Hips process, the story I am about to tell you, I have rewritten my DNA. Thank God!
(Get off center block and move right to camera)
One of the things that kept me going during my crazy three year dance marathon with Shiva the Destroyer, was the commitment I made to one day tell this story as a play or a movie. When The People in my Hips first manifested, I immediately started a video diary where I filmed myself talking about the “crazy” stuff happening in my life. I also filmed psychotherapy, bodywork and Yoga sessions. Documenting my process with video was one of the ways I survived. Knowing that I would bear witness and someday tell this story, and hopefully help lots of people with similar problems was how I made it through. It’s one of the reasons why I am standing here today. So tonight, you will be seeing real video of my experience from 3,4, and 5 years ago, mixed with candid narration, and scenes acted out that I was unable to film. As you can see, I am filming this performance and all my performances as a tribute to my process.
(Back to center block)
When I finally committed to presenting this play, I promised myself that I wouldn’t bring The People in my Hips back in the process of telling this tale, so there may be times during this presentation that I may take a spontaneous break or while watching a video that I may leave the theatre, or sit in the audience with you or do some Yoga or quietly weep. I ask for your indulgence on this.
Two years ago, I healed myself of The People in my Hips. I had finally lived out and completed the story, and I had a theatre in which to present the story, yet I procrastinated on putting this show together until now because I was scared - and I am not talking STAGE FRIGHT. When you have danced with Mr. Ugly here being on stage is a cakewalk. Basically, I was scared that The People in my Hips might return, and also scared that after sharing this material you all might think me mad, an extension of the craziness of my father. So I put off presenting this show telling myself I was too busy with this theatre to do theatre.
And then one day last summer, while I was working here running a festival show, something happened which made me realize that I had to do this show and do it right away.
(Cross left to Journal on theatre block)
I was putzing around my office cleaning up when I discovered a Diary from 2005 that I had kept about The People in my Hips. I mostly did video diaries but this was about 30 pages of a written journal. This is what I read:
JULY 30, 2005
I decided to relax my hip in therapy today, let it go and follow it to see what we could discover.
Immediately I started to bounce and shake and then my right hand started hitting my right leg repeatedly. Why was I hitting myself?
I went further into the memory. Something bad was happening. Something bad. I am being held down.
Who was it? Who was it? .....
It was Dark Man. I can’t tell anyone.
He said he would kill me if I told.
I HAD TO KEEP IT A SECRET - WAY DOWN IN MY HIPS!
I had to keep it a secret from EVERYONE.
Even myself… or I would die!
MY body is telling me the truth, showing me physically so that I will believe it…for I destroyed the memory years ago to survive.
WHAT BETTER WAY TO KEEP A SECRET? MAKE YOURSELF FORGET!
I set the journal down.
I was stunned for I had absolutely no recollection of this event,
this therapy session,
or of ever having written this journal.
(SOUND CUE # - THUNDER)
And therein hangs a tale…