Tuesday, November 13, 2012

After Dark, November 13, 2012

My First Time
The importance being exposed
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

My mother died when I was 13. You need to know that because it is important to the story of my first time.

My mother was the kind of Catholic who, if Christmas fell on a Sunday, would bring us all to church twice - once for Christmas, once for the Sunday. When my mother died my father - profoundly in love with his wife of 25 years and the mother of his six children - went mad with grief and got through it two ways: by falling in love with another magnificent woman and by blaming the Catholic Church for my mother's death. My mother had not been a well woman since being hit with rheumatic fever as a child and so her seven pregnancies (she lost one) had been hellish. My father thought she had died so young because they had never used birth control because of my mother's Catholicism. (Stay with me...there is a point to this.)

My father, relieved, I believe, of my Mother's staunch Catholicism, became a lot more liberal. When I was 15 he allowed me to start drinking...in the house...with him. (His own father was an alcoholic and he preferred I do my drinking at home so he could see how I handled it.) He brought me to my first x-rated film at about the same time. (I have always looked like I was 30 so he suspected I was already buying nudie magazines. He was right.)

At eight o'clock we were in our folding wooden chairs in the church hall that was the home of The Quebec City Summer Stock Theatre.

But the biggest thing...the best thing...was that, soon after I turned 14, he took me to see a play. It was sort of a date night so I could hang out with him and his new girlfriend - my next mother. I was a proper little suckup, so I was all dressed up and being a "perfect little gentleman" with my dad and his squeeze over dinner. The play, as far as I was concerned, was like going to a movie: just another way to pass the time.

At eight o'clock we were in our folding wooden chairs in the church hall that was the home of The Quebec City Summer Stock Theatre. The play was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It was not a play my late mother would have taken me to...not in a million years. It was vulgar, and loud and "adult". From the moment Martha entered through the audience with her bellow, "What a dump!" to the horrific final moments, I was enraptured.

I thought, at the time (and I kid you not), "This is as good as masturbation!" (something else I had recently discovered).

Plays became my porn from that night on. I bought the text of Virginia Woolf days later and then The Crucible and Incident at Vichy and all the Miller, Tennessee Williams and Albee plays our little bookstore had. My father signed us up for a season at Le Trident. Then I was writing plays, directing and acting at school. I was prepared to STUDY Shakespeare in English class because I connected the words on the page with actors, alive, in front of me.

My father is my hero.

I firmly believe that we, who love theatre, have one important task: to bring at least one person who has never been to the theatre. Sometimes that's all it takes. It is more important now than ever. When I was a kid, we had music and theatre in school. Now?

Ask around.

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