The online movement of PostSecret has provided an anonymous platform for the public to release their secrets, ranging from deep heartbreaking burdens to silly and bizarre transgressions. Through sharing these secrets the hope is we can feel relief and a sense of connection, that we are not alone.
Audience members are encouraged to share their secrets anonymously, at PostSecret: The Show. We have collected 5 of the funniest, embarrassing, weirdest secrets submitted so far at The Firehall Arts Centre.
I’ve been involved in this show in various capacities for close to six years now. I’ve read and heard thousands of secrets. Certain impressions have been coalescing from it all. Here’s what I’ve learned:
-Anxiety and depression are very common, and might be a big part of the inner experience of anyone you know.
-Tell the people in your life you love them. Don’t put off opportunities to spendtime with them. They could be gone before you know it.
-People can be moved to tears at a confession of suicidal depression and in the next breath laugh uproariously at a fart joke.
-If you’ve made it to adulthood without suffering some kind of trauma or violation, consider yourself very, very lucky.
-People fear being alone perhaps more than anything.
-The healing power of a good, long belly laugh cannot be overstated.
-Many people harbour unrequited loves and lasting regrets for decades.
-Struggles with suicidal feelings are widespread, and often hidden.
-We think we’re alone with whatever we’re holding inside. We think it isolates us, makes us freaks and outcasts. Most of us feel this way.
-We’re not alone.
From Kahlil Ashanti:
My family attended an early table read of PostSecret: The Show in Washington DC. I think it was June 2012. I was so excited for them to see what I was working on, hoping that they would validate my efforts with praise. It was my Dad and one of his sisters. I don’t see them often and we’re not close (long story), but I’m not often on the East Coast so wanted to make an effort.
When I say this was early in the development of the show – I mean early. Three music stands, a projector with a screen, three actors and three stools. We were in a small room at the back of a conference room, reading off of scripts. The creative team (myself, Sudds, Frank and TJ) had flown in from Vancouver a few nights before and Frank invited local PostSecret fans as well as some of the general public to attend and offer their feedback.
Folding chairs, dark room, and some snacks. Nothing fancy. We wanted the postcards to speak for themselves.
The gasps, tears and muted laughter from the small audience was overwhelming. Their feedback was encouraging and challenging. We still had a lot of work to do. We also realized that we were creating more than a theatrical piece – something bigger than ourselves.
My family left early. They hated it. My aunt just shook her head as she left the room. And we have never spoken about it since. That hurt. But it also let me know we were truly on to something.
Why has PostSecret stood the test of time? Because it forces us to face our innermost fears, doubts and hopes in uncomfortable ways. It has been an exciting and difficult journey to translate PostSecret to the stage. Larry Moss, the famous acting coach often says ‘the best theatre is when you feel like you shouldn’t be watching’. I would add to that – ‘but you can’t stop’.
Frank Warren has created a safe space for people to share their secrets and that has now extended to PostSecret: The Show. Given the multiple distractions of social media and digital communication that eat up so much of our time, it’s easy to think we have more ways to communicate than ever before. I think we have more places to hide. Yes, PostSecret is anonymous secrets. But the responses, the power and the community are not. In a world of bloated hype about the next big thing, whether it’s a movie, an app, political candidate or a smartphone, PostSecret remains grounded in authenticity. And that’s why it’s timeless.
You can tell a lot about a play by the conversation in the lobby after the show. Alley Theatre’s production of Hannah Moscovitch’s Little One (on till Sat, Feb 13) has folks asking questions; recapping its many twists and turns; and marveling at how this dark thriller had them laughing out loud.
After touring to New York and Montreal, Alley Theatre is back in Vancouver and runs for only two more days here at the Firehall. You may have heard that they received critical acclaim while on tour, including a rave review in the New York Times. But artistic producer, Marisa Smith is quick to point out that the play a very Canadian story.
At last night’s post show panel discussion, hosted by the Georgia Straight’s Janet Smith, there was a common theme among questions and comments. Both audience and panelists (a foursome of clinical psychologists and social workers which included heavy hitters such as Carol Ross, Child Welfare Committee Chair of the BC Association of Social Workers) shared the sentiment that more needs to be done to help support adoptive and fostering families in Canada. Perhaps, the most poignant moment came when a women in the audience shared her experience as a teacher working on Vancouver’s east side. She lamented the barriers that her students face in seeking social supports.
It’s clear that this play packs a powerful punch (clocking in at under one hour) but we promise… it also entertains. There are only a few chances left to see this “little” gem of a show. We hope you will join us.
Here is what some local reviewers are saying about this week’s run of Little One:
Cliff Cardinal’s Huff has been touring across Canada and creating quite a stir with the critics as it makes its way across the country. This raw, powerful story about the injustices Indigenous youth face is on at the Firehall Arts Centre this week as part of PuSh Festival. Tickets are sold out for two performances, so make sure you don’t miss the show the Globe & Mail picked as one of 6 shows to see in the Winter Theatre Circuit.
PRAISE FOR HUFF
“poignantly humorous… this is a dark and disturbing tale” – **** 4 Stars from The Calgary Sun