The semester is nearly done, and as I wait for final exams and final papers to come pouring onto my desk (literally and virtually), I am refocusing my energies upon finishing the film. So much has gone wrong in completing this production. The first version of this film was halted, for awhile, by the sudden death of one of the play’s co-producers, Nancy Resh. Now she is the muse: for the production of the second play and for the production of this documentary film.
One of the smaller themes running through this film centers around the notion of happiness. Whenever I think of that word, happiness, the cynic in me starts to sing “Happiness is a Warm Gun” (music video, not captioned), and then I start thinking of the version performed in the Beatles tribute movie Across the Universe (also not captioned). In truth, the lyrics have very little to do with the productions of either play:
She’s not a girl who misses much
Do do do do do do, oh yeahShe’s well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand like a lizard on a window pane.The man in the crowd with the multi-colored mirrors on his hobnail boots.Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime.A soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust.I need a fix ’cause I’m going down
Down to the bits that I left uptown
I need a fix ’cause I’m going downMother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gunHappiness is a warm gun (bang bang shoot shoot)
Happiness is a warm gun, mama (bang bang shoot shoot)
When I hold you in my arms (oh, yeah)
And I feel my finger on your trigger (oh, yeah)
I know nobody can do me no harm (oh, yeah)
Because, (happiness) is a warm gun, mama (bang bang shoot shoot)
Happiness is a warm gun, yes it is (bang bang shoot shoot)Happiness is a warm, yes it is, gun
Happiness (bang bang shoot shoot)Well don’t you know that happiness (happiness) is a warm gun, (is a warm gun, yeah).
And yet, the song still dances through my head as I struggle to finish the film. Just as the filmmakers of Across the Universe provide their interpretation of “happiness is a warm gun” as being an opiate response to the direct and indirect death and destruction of the Vietnam War, I am pulling from the song’s lyrics to apply my interpretation of the staged ASL/English productions at Kent Trumbull Theatre. In other words, the lyrics aren’t about those productions, but several experiences of those productions are about those lyrics: death, destruction, tears, remorse, guilt, and a whole lotta’ pain. During the first production, one cast member fretted while another cast member (her son) was hospitalized, another cast member lost her mother to cancer, and several others were also clearly struggling with painful personal issues. In this first production, however, those pains and struggles, that general unhappiness, seemed to pull most of the cast and crew together, to fight to create (not to destroy). This was also the case in the second production, where personal pains became pains on the stage as adults fought over very real personal and professional violations of space, understanding, and (above all) respect. However, unlike the first production, the second production nearly fell apart: pain pulled them further and further apart, not together. But what do I really know? Not much. As the filmmaker, at this point, I’m just the lizard on a window pane.