Once upon there was a taxi driver.
First there was a boy. The boy lived in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union. His dad flew fighter jets – the ones with the big bombs in them. Not big as in size. Big as in nuclear. Then the dad got a different job flying cargo planes because the fighter jets take a lot out of you when you fly them. Isn’t that interesting to know?
The boy grew up on military bases. He hung out with soldiers and military men because his mother worked in special services typing up secret documents and inputting secret case files.
So the boy grew up with great discipline, and he became a very disciplined taxi driver.
He tells me about life in Ukraine while he drives me to the airport in the United States. I ask about the current conflict and he says he has friends fighting each other. One friend wanting to be Russian, and the other friend wanting – fiercely – to be Ukrainian.
It breaks our hearts he said.
Once upon a time there was a millionaire.
First there was a boy. A boy who lived in New York. A boy who was the child of famously rich parents who were themselves the children of famously rich parents. A boy who had liberal sympathies, a boy who played the piano. His father was a banker and his mother was a lawyer and so servants raised the boy as well as nannies and then he went to a very important university. He became a doctor and then a philanthropist and after he healed his patients he would talk to them about their books and operas. And then he would fund raise so these important cultural things could happen.
The millionaire meets me for coffee because I am a friend of a friend of a cousin who likes Comparative Literature and who thinks we might get along. He tells me about life at this famous university where he has met and gotten to know so many famous people.
It’s thrilling he said.
Today I think about the differences between these two stories. If these boys could talk to each other what would they say? How could life in the Soviet Union connect with life in New York? What wisdoms could be collected? How could prompt taxi driving inform and connect with famous doctoring?
I feel sad that they will probably never meet.
And THAT makes me think about a third story.
Once upon a time there was a theater company.
Once there were 7 actors.
They weren’t any one nationality, and they didn’t speak just one language. They formed a troupe and they did something called devise-theater (or perhaps its device-theater… I couldn’t understand what the theater expert meant when he told me about this kind of show and he’s not here so you’ll have to bear with me) and these actors went into the street and talked to people.
Whoever the actors met became part of their story. They filmed it and showed it in a little theater last week.
In my mind’s eye the theater company brings the millionaire and the taxi driver together on the streets of somewhere – Rio? Berlin? Los Angeles? Bucharest?
And together they solve it all – they solve all the world’s problems. Because they bring everyone else into it. Think about it: you need a taxi driver and a jet plane pilot and a special services operative and a comparative literature lover and a theater expert and a medical doctor and all the successful artists you can think of and the theater company to get the job done. As well as a lawyer and a banker. If you think about it – that’s a lot of useful expertises.
And everyone would applaud, because honestly – that would be a pretty good play wouldn’t it?
For a glimpse at what Gob Squad’s performances “might” look like in a city near you….