by Cynthia Wands
Recently I’ve been looking through family photographs, and I’m astounded what powerful reminders they are. They seem to tell just a momentary fraction of all the worlds that collide in a photograph. There’s an element of disbelief in them (“Did she look like that?” “Wait – wasn’t that in Idaho?” “Who is that person?”).
Very much like the scripts we write and watch and remember, there’s an invisible world that also inhabits those images.
I’m writing something now that could be called “magical realism”. Or, as I also call it, “real magicalism”. I’m drawn to those memories in theatre where magic happened, whether it was a beautiful light cue, or an unexpected vision. Or an actor who found a moment of surprising vulnerability.
So now, in my writing, I’m looking to find the magical elements – in life – and onstage.
In my life at home I can find a brief moment of the supremely unexpected, the whimsical, the forcefully alien ideas. There’s also horror, and dark surprises, and a refrigerator that makes sounds at night that makes you think an axe murderer is at the door. (The refrigerator only does this at night.) (That must be it’s magic.)
At the moment I’m watching our tribe of hummingbirds duel over the seven feeders that they visit dozens of times during the day. They glitter like jewels in the full sun, then vanish with a zip toward the next feeder. They squeak and chirp and sound like a squeaky bicycle. But their magic, (flying backwards!), their fierce swashbuckler posturing (“This is mine! All mine!”) and their greedy gusto, is so unexpected and comic. We have names for the some of them: Me Too, Achilles, Tuffie Five, Tuffie Six, Merlin, Big Boy.
So there’s a bit of magic that I’m watching tonight. I haven’t figured out how I could cast a hummingbird in my play. But maybe there’s some kind of magic in thinking about it.