by Martin Dockery
Rogue Festival is almost here! But just like most things, this year will be different, as it will be virtual. However, KRL will still have performer preview articles, an article about virtual Rogue, reviews (all can be found in our Rogue Festival section), and an event page. So I hope you all check out Rogue this year and all of our articles! You can also learn more on the Rogue Festival website.
What’s the right word to describe this past year?
Once a month I’ve been doing live shows on the internet, trying to capture the essence of where we’re all at in this absurd turn our lives took this past year. We, a gregarious species told to keep our distance from each other for months and months. And months. So many months. Unbelievable. Who would’ve believed this? Not me. Not us. We’re living through it. But still, we don’t believe. This is a dream realized by our pets. Collectively, they willed this into being. To keep us home. No one thought it would work. But here we are. Unbelievable.
My Rogue show’s got nothing to do with pets. I don’t have pets. I’ve got a two-year-old human girl. She’s crazy-articulate. Good with concepts. Today she said to me, “You know what eyes are for?” I said, “What?” She said, “They’re for eyelashes.”
But you know what she’s never conceptualized? This pandemic. Lockdown. Social distancing. Sickness. Anxiety. Virtual backgrounds on Zoom.
She has no friends. Literally. Like, that’s not hyperbole. She doesn’t even know what friendship is. We’ve been sheltering in a town on the far point of Long Island, New York. Surrounded by the Atlantic on three sides. Let’s call it the most eastern point of the United States. The town’s motto is “The End.” A fitting place to wait for it.
We know no one here. Arrived in March. That’s LAST March. A year ago. Thought we were coming for a long weekend. No surprise, it’s not been an ideal time to meet people. Particularly when you think you’re going to be here for a week. With each passing week, you think one more week. And then another month. And now… another year? Not a good mindset for making friends. Particularly when social distancing forbids it.
And so our two-year-old has no friends. But she doesn’t know what friendship is. Doesn’t know what she’s missing. What I’m saying is, she couldn’t be happier. Her world is us. A mother, father. And lots of attention.
And lots of looking out windows. For all of us. Meaning, us and you. Watching the seasons change. Which they do with a slow motion ferocity. Our only connection to the world of interpersonal narrative: the internet. Another window. As it is for all of us. It’s like – What is this like? The way the internet connects us? What’s a good metaphor? Oh, I know what it’s like: it’s like a web. One cast worldwide.
I sit at a far, far, far out strand of virtual silk, a delicate wisp of sticky gossamer. And once a month I’ve been broadcasting to everyone, to no one, to whomever, as I tell the story of Right Now. Of my life at this very moment. Which is to say, the story of all our lives. Because our stories are the same story, but with different details.
I began in August with, fittingly, Right Now: August, broadcasting from my backyard on a hot summer night, a chorus of youthful crickets harmonizing to a story of comical anxiety. Always comical. Always anxious. Everything’s funny. Nothing’s funny. Again in September with Right Now: September. Each month another show. Through birthdays, the election, the inauguration. The crickets left. I’ve continued alone. Speaking into the tiny green dot of light on my laptop. A camera. A two-way mirror. No audience feedback. An all new show each and every month. Something to connect us all. The crickets don’t know what they’re missing.
Which brings us to this, Right Now: Year Two, the culmination of a year’s displacement. For me. For my daughter. For you. For an entire country. For the world. The unbelievable, the unfathomable, the surreal, the inspiring, the sympathetic, the thought-provoking, the mind-bending ramifications of twelve months of staying in, of weathering the weather alone, of attending funerals online, of celebrating birthdays in two dimensions, of absence, of virtual affirmations, of missing the touch of others.
As with each show, Right Now: Year Two is born out of this very moment. March 2021. The show won’t have been performed before, and will never be performed again. It’s unique to this moment in our lives, even as all our moments seem to blend together into one long exercise in distancing ourselves from the very things that make us feel alive.
I hope you’ll tune in. Of course I do. There’s no point if no one tunes in. The seasons will still change. Our pets will still be happy. My little girl will still develop her own theory of evolution. But tune in and we’ll better realize our shared humanity. Better feel that our isolation is not ours alone. That it is shared. That in fact we are alone together. And in this way, that we are not alone at all.
If you’d like to see any of the previous shows, they’re all up on YouTube, as well as on my website: www.MartinDockery.com. The shows are all titled Right Now followed by the month in which they were performed.
Much thanks to everyone in Fresno! Wish I could be there in person. I miss it. I miss you. We’re all missing so much.
Thanks, and as always, stay safe.
Show times For Right Now: Year Two are Sat, March 6 @ 8 p.m. and Sun, March 14 @ 6 p.m. Details and tickets are available online at www.fresnoroguefestival.com.