Saturday, April 5, 2008

"After years of waiting nothing came/And you realize you're looking/Looking in the wrong place"



From May 2005 till about October 2007, I had been working on a project that was a fictional retelling/theatrical response of the story of Matthew Maupin, a US soldier who was captured during an ambush in Iraq in 2004. The director of the piece had come across an article dealing with Maupin about a year after his disappearance, and during the workshop of another, entirely different piece meant to meld modern discussions of torture and Ophelia from Hamlet (don't ask), themes about Maupin's story kept creeping in until we'd switched gears entirely and the whole thing became about him. The big, overlying detail of the piece was that Maupin was designated "Missing: Captured" and his real life family had continued to grieve and hold out hope for his return. The US government could not give these people any surety either way if their son was alive or dead. The family held on for literally years in some state of suspended grief, and just this past Sunday (3/30/08), word came out that his remains had been uncovered. Through DNA testing, they were able to identify whatever they found of him as him. This came about a week or so before the four year anniversary of his disappearance, an occasion that was going to be commemorated in the town he grew up in. Now they've commemorated something else.

It's taken me a week to sit down and blog about this, 1) Because I haven't had the time to actually blog about anything; and 2) Because I wasn't sure how to talk about this without getting too personal, which, as always, is something I seek to avoid in this forum. <--Perhaps, though, that is inevitable, as one of the novelties of blogging is an understanding that this is the author's take on whatever it is they're discussing, and that's just part of the form. But I'm still going to try to avoid it as best I can.

It's strange, this thing. If you know me well, you've probably inadvertently gone on this journey with me over the past couple-of-years-and-change, and you may know that I affectively left the piece in October (I tried to earlier, but it just didn't work out). So for me it was over, even though the play itself was seemingly not. But now Matt Maupin is dead. And so perhaps too is this journey, for real, not just because I left the show but because that question that kept it alive all those years, that same question that kept his family campaigning the US Government for information, "Where is Keith Matthew Maupin?" has been answered. It is a passing of a different kind, and I'm glad it's come.

I would not presume to say that my response or any sense of grieving I may feel about this happening is anywhere near the family's--that would be a flagrant lie, and truly a slap in the face to anyone that knew that individual and cared about him. There is also a sense of distance because one Must try to maintain some sense of objectiveness about the topic one is discussing on stage--it is the only way to produce well-rounded art that lends itself as a discussion, instead of a piece of stage propaganda. But something is definately over now, and I see it as another sign that tells me I'm ready to go.

Even if that journey doesn't start till January. Frak.

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