If you forgot everything that made you, you – would you still be you?

If you forgot everything that made you, you – would you still be you?

Coffee and the Times.  It’s a morning ritual for most New Yorkers, and incidentally where many of the ideas for my plays and projects originate.  Perhaps it’s that I’ve always found the day to day struggle of our human existence to be the most epic adventure to be had.  Or maybe it’s that our time here is finite, and I ache for us to open our eyes to the simple beauty of it all.  Herschel said, “To the natural philosopher there is no natural object unimportant or trifling… a soap bubble… an apple… a pebble. From the least of Nature’s works he may learn the greatest lessons.”  Not that I call myself a philosopher, I wouldn’t be so bold, but I do feel this is humanity’s greatest call:  to “walk in the midst of wonders,” not to walk in the midst of a sending a text message.

Whatever the reasons, so it was that I came across an article one day about a young, New York City school teacher who went for a run and disappeared, leaving behind her wallet, cellphone, and ID.  Three weeks later, she was pulled from the waters of New York Harbor, alive but with no recollection of where she had been during that time.  My biggest question (and ultimately her’s) was, “What happened?”

Imagine what it would be like to wake up one day and completely forget who you are.  The clinical term for this is known as Dissociative Fugue, “a rare form of amnesia that causes people to forget their identity, suddenly and without warning, and can last from a few hours to years.”  On a fundamental and very primal level this is a horrifying thought.  Our identity is what keeps us tethered to this world.  Our relationships, our likes and dislikes, our style of dress – whether we care to admit it or not, these things define us, give us structure and adds meaning to our lives.  They are the cold hard facts we hang our hats on and say, that’s me.

Or is it? …

This is what we’ve set out to explore in our most current Purple Threads project.  Call Me She uses this article as a jumping off point to explore the bigger questions of Identity.  If you forgot everything that made you, you – would you still be you?  What defines us?  What holds us together?  Is it our relationships, our pursuits?  What defines you?  With such a large, multi-layered topic to tackle, it only made sense that we would be pursue it through multiple angles and artistic disciplines.  We hope to capture the scope of these questions and more, as we explore them through text, movement and sound.  When words are not enough, movement and sound might be, and when does movement create an atmosphere so visceral that we must speak?  To say this is not an ambitious undertaking would be untrue, but it is something we are endeavoring to undertake none the less.  In fact, we’ve already started, and what a journey it has been so far.  Imagine where it might take us, if we were willing to let go and run.

Danielle M. Velkoff, Artistic Director at Purple Threads

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