From left to right. Andrew Neaves, David Jahn, Fatima El-Bashir. Photo By Jenny Graham.

‘Remembering the Future’ by Peter Lefcourt

August 1, 2022

How is the future created from the past? What is the motivation for people to continue to pursue their aims of happiness when the most critical circumstance of their humanity – the aging of their bodies – moves their perception of the world away from their nascent opportunities they once dreamed possible? So much of the human condition is in experiencing the universal fate of time pouring its granular coarseness upon our memories, toward forming what is quintessentially a continuous remembrance of one’s self. It is this anxiety of forming our best self, our happiest continuum, which is the thematic substance of the play Remembering the Future by Peter Lefcourt and directed at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble by Terri Hanauer.


Tarina Pouncy, Michael Corbett. Photo By Jenny Graham.


There is such a striking originality in the position of memory between the same selves on the stage. The director, Ms. Terri Hanauer, does splendidly in composing the distinct crisis in the human condition, and that is overcoming the anxiety of plans not going accordingly when facing the certainty of mortality. So much of the heart of the play involves the juvenile inclination to act toward one’s self-centered judgments on the best possible fate, as two people fondly recollect their past “lives” as doting teenagers after meeting up at a bar decades later now that they are well into middle-age with typical social responsibilities weighing themselves towards “adulthood”. That their teenage memories of themselves begin interacting with their present forms an imaginary continuum to confront, appropriately, the life decisions of themselves into the future, far away from abstract hopes of “being someone”.


David Jahn as Bartender. Photo By Jenny Graham.

Such a coordination of play elements is terrifically accomplished with David Jahn playing the bartender for Greg (Michael Corbett) and Melissa (Terina Pouncy), who is permitted to act as a pseudo-Grecian chorus element in the act to striking efficacy. His thespianism is needed to provide necessary coherence in the audience’s attempts to order the scenes between young and old. His improvisational comedic effects warmly include the audience to provide us with a greater spectacle when examining the drama. That is, our memory of the play contributes to the story!


Which then returns us towards the central question of confronting the reality of life-decisions which are made distant from, as Aristotle would say, immortal things. So much of Greg’s confessions, for instance, stem from “mid-life crisis” antics, which involve the anxiety of a termination of the body’s experience. Gratefully, there is no need to involve spiritual meditations, no pathos when presenting the animation of the human character reflecting its actual appearance in the hustle and bustle of a society which generates such appearances of monotony (like work) that it startles their teenage selves into performing a fun intervention.


Fatima El-Bashir, Andrew Neaves. Photo By Jenny Graham.


The intervention itself between what amounts to a pair of strangers separated by a few decades does not lead to any absurd confusion in how a reconstructed memory physically acts upon the characters. Indeed, it adds mystery; and with mystery we are left in a heightened state of presence, with the concentration of our focus being wordlessly drawn into the multiple choices the act has in ending. This is the condition of human life imaginatively presented: How ought we move ourselves best?


A plurality of the audience wishes for the two to revitalize their lives. Others, like myself, know the past is the past. To let bygones be bygones. To appreciate what has been for what it is in making what one will be. To try and muddy the water into becoming this best possibility is a fool’s errand.


So much of what is undiscovered in the intervention, yet must be made knowable, is in the benefit of isolation from most of humanity that does not have a surefire compass to navigate the cosmic seas of the mind. For indeed, when we contemplate the idea of memory, we are referring to moments of the mind’s experience of the body in time. How to experience it best? How to form the body’s motion towards an accurate experience of creation?


To strive for immortality may feel prima facie grandiose, and with that attribute is arrogance. That is, a sense of righteous superiority over other lives who are not able to strive for similar ends. But when so many millions of humans on planet Earth have the rational faculties of creating timeless beauty, what excuse do they have for choosing the tried-and-true approach of safety? Safety in not sticking out like a sore thumb at a wedding, for instance?


Because choosing safety is counter-opposite to danger, which courage as a virtue requires in its demonstration, and which man is honored to even contemplate in choosing. That most people choose safety and comfort over danger, is inexplicable to the mind of an 18-year-old with the well of worldly possibilities still unsprang. And it is here where the play strikes clearly in giving us a wonderful idea of subjective perspective as the human body motions itself through the passages of time, toward the incomprehensibility in not electing to, as Charles Bukowski says, “go all the way”. It is a decision, a choice, an election, in suffering to try for what is best, which needs courageous originality in composing a sweetness to the human soul for others to savor and remember forever.











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