The Streaming Experience: Virtual Vineyard’s On The Beauty Of Loss
“Stand by driving, and Go!” And with that directive, we are off in the Virtual Vineyard‘s live-streamed performance of On The Beauty Of Loss, a captivating real-time car ride through the emotional journey of processing love and loss, created for the world wide web by Jared Mezzocchi (Someone Else’s House) with an original score by Lee Kinney. Jared is our compassionate guide and our introspective narrator, as he explores the ways we humans collect memories and digest grief, with us viewing his contemplations right by his side, as if we are his travel companion on an internal road trip through a messy snowy landscape, sitting there with him in a very big car, curious about all he can remember. Visually compiling emotional maps while mixing moving images, recorded conversations, and personal recollections blurred by time and traumatic barriers, the candid piece layers the loss of two family members, separated by 16 years, but merged into one being or force. The power and beauty of those personal losses; a father passing away as Jared drove through a snowstorm in 2004 to be by his side in the hospital, and the other, a journey to his grandfather’s funeral in the middle of the pandemic in 2020. It’s no surprise they find their way into one another, sometimes confusingly, but authentically melting into the nighttime horizon before us.
He throws us in and bundles us up for the tumultuous car ride to both, one on top of the other, as the memories and antidotes of love and happiness become one complex stream of consciousness, revealing levels of intimacy and attachment that resonate and are utterly relatable, all played out while we travel miles and miles by his side in a car with no heat. He asks us to join in, side by side, with his exploration, prompting us to bring a loved one to our imaginative side (photographically); someone we thought a lot about during the pandemic, someone we lost maybe, or even someone who is still with us. Challenging us to dig in, to ride shotgun for an impossible car ride through new, old feelings, to rethink and slow down time, to laugh, to speak, and to weave our senses together around loss and the holes to heaven. We gladly join his journey through his and our own processing, as we listen to and take in Cat Stevens, Jack Johnson, and a tale of Father and Son.
On The Beauty of Loss asks us to be introspective about how we grieve over and over again, even as we beg our brain to be done. There is no ending to grief. “Sorry, guys.” And his truth is felt and is right, in that regard, deep in our own sorrow and sense of loss. As a psychotherapist in the real world (and I guess the virtual world as all my sessions during the pandemic were online), the layers of grief and loss that have been experienced by this lockdown and pandemic are hard to fathom and take in. Some days it feels like an endless car ride, with those asking from the back seat, “Are we there yet?” It all melts together to bring into view a strong landscape of emotional attachment/detatchement that is ever so wide and vast. Grief is complicated, tense, heart-breaking, but can also be stunningly beautiful, as it reminds of the wonders of love, companionship, and intimacy. It can rip us apart, and draw us together. I write this on the evening after attending the memorial, or should I say, a ‘celebration’ for the legendary Martha Henry at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. If there is or was anything that matches the beauty of the words heard, and the taking in of all those heartfelt memories by those who interacted with this inspiring, talented actor/director/teacher/friend/partner/woman, I wanna see it, hear it, and embrace it, because that kind of expression of love and loss is truly the essence of beauty. And I hope the effect is everlasting.
Inside this tender production, as requested, I brought forth someone to symbolically participate in this virtual experience who, surprisingly, shared a commonality with one of Jared’s utterly touching stories; an emotional ending that happened on his man’s birthday, which also happens to be Valentine’s Day (what a coincidence!), that instantly, on that day, broke my heart and changed my course down the road of life. And although in that exact moment inside …The Beauty Of Loss, I couldn’t name the one song that captured all those emotionally charged words that surrounded his written-down name, the music played out as firmly and passionately in my head as this piece of virtual creativity played beautifully in my heart. Jared has an authentic way of layering and mapping out his storytelling that echoes deep down with deliberation, heated, unlike his car, with love and care. It’s a joy to behold and be a part of, so On The Beauty Of Loss, jump in like his eight-hour buddy did, with honest care and concern, but bring your sharpie, a notecard, and that meaningful picture for that ride. Your emotional heart will thank you for it, and will soon not forget.
There are two ways audience members may choose to engage with this digital performance: Zoom and Streaming. The Zoom option will put audience members directly in the room with Jared and the other audience members. The Streaming option allows audience members who prefer not to have their video on while viewing the live performance. For more information and tickets, go to Vineyard’s page & join Jared on this beautiful virtual car ride through loss, on your chosen performance date.
On a short side note that is also relevant, Jared Mezzocchi wrote on his Twitter account: “I’m baffled how saying “digital performance is a kind of theater” is heard by so many as “digital theater will replace in-person theater” and that rhetoric then creates binaries, which creates a road to delegitimize one over the other. Why can’t they be scene partners?” Why indeed. This show proves there is space enough for both, and if both outlets can be fully embraced by all, it will lift us up and outwards into the heavens, and drive us down that beuatiful road into our collective hearts and souls together. Isn’t that what theatre and creativity is all about? Just my two and half cents. Take it or leave it.