Archive for September, 2014

Defense of Marriage

Monday, September 15th, 2014

I’ve been asked to officiate at three different weddings and I have to say, it is without a doubt the biggest honor and responsibility I’ve had as a theater person. Everything we do as performers is a public discussion of The Big Ideas, even when we hide them as a couple of guys gossiping or interspecies world war, and a wedding is no different.

I have friends, more than you might imagine, who find the very idea of marriage repellent. And I love these people a lot – more than that, I respect them enormously – and so I wonder if maybe they understand something that I don’t. Because to me, it is possibly one of the most important things I’ve ever done.

People have been getting married for a hundred thousand years, maybe more. Pair-bonding has its own advantages (one person could go stab a bison while the other one is collecting… I don’t know, *Kale* or something) but that’s not necessarily marriage. Getting married has a public announcement involved, it’s getting everyone all up in your business.

There have always been a couple of different reasons for this. Chief among these is to create more humans, and separate them into families. The people who knew their families had an easier time not creating more humans that had shitty regressive genes. The babies who couldn’t make it, didn’t, the ones with public pair-bonding had it a little easier.

Then, there’s also the fact that once we started having a bunch of stuff, marriage made it easier to figure out where all that stuff was going once the older generation was dead. All that bison meat and dried Kale had to go to somebody.

And of course, the worst. More and more people thought a jealous god was holding on to the keys of the afterlife and only letting people in if they got married in one of his suspiciously sanctioned churches.

And I guess that gets closest to my own feelings about marriage. I’ve always been of the opinion that if God wanted me to do something, he’d come talk to me about it. If your kid comes home and says, “my teacher told me you were supposed to do all my homework for me” you’d probably go, “Um… I”monna call the school, mkay?” And I trust my kid WAY more than I trust some dude I’ve never met who says he has a message from God.

But it can be lonely as a confirmed atheist. I have absolutely no sense of divinity, no belief whatsoever in an afterlife or magic or God or anything remotely supernatural. But there are moments in my life that have just barely transcended the noxious day-to-day Moving-Units and Getting-Shit-Done existence I have, and all of those moments have been on stage.

I really love TV and movies, but the only magic I’ve ever felt is there on stage when the hundred or so people watching have a unified response. When we show a moment that’s so odious that the entire audience responds with disgust, or when we show two people finding a new way to love each other and everyone understands… that *feels* magical to me.

And when two people stand up in front of a group of their best friends and family and make wishes-as-promises to each other, that is the absolute apex of what theater can be for me.

And it is theater. Invitations are sent out and people travel from all over to be in one room for one shared moment and, for a few minutes, sit silently. Two people declare to the world that they’re starting a new family – whether it be the two of them or a whole brood that they’ll collect, create, adopt, whatever.

And it is the public showing, the moment of theater, that makes the action holy. I’ve never heard God ask me to do something, but I feel a spark of divinity in my black and red heart when I get to bear witness to this moment. And it reminds me that we’re part of a chain of people going back a hundred thousand years, standing in caves, standing in huts, standing in teepees and under chuppahs, even in a cathedral or a beautiful indoor picnic in Long Island City. These two are promising that belong together and belong to each other. And because they do it in front of us, they’re saying we all belong to each other.

I know it’s theater. And I know a wedding has virtually nothing to do with a marriage. But in my dark, lonely life it is the closest I have ever come to hearing the voice of God.