Any Canadian growing up in the 80’s will remember a children’s show called The Polka Dot Door, in which, along with a plethora of multicoloured characters, real actors and regular sing alongs, there was a character called Polkaroo. Polkaroo only ever appeared on “Imagination Day”, and most specifically only when one of the “real” actors had left the room. Polkaroo would appear and would never say anything more than his own name. Then he would disappear, and just like the week before, the absent actor would return having missed Polkaroo’s appearance.
Now before you dismiss this tenuous link between Richard Foreman and a large polka dotted kangaroo playing the guitar, let me explain. I was sitting in rehearsal, very much wrapped up in my own problems, when I looked up and saw a scene that I had watched many times before. Sarah was standing upstage centre with a handkerchief over her face vigorously shaking two black sticks with jingle bells on the ends, while some melancholy French song played over a web of other sound cues. And suddenly I asked myself one of two questions that tech director Peter Ksander repeats frequently when at work, What am I doing here? (the other question being, Who am I?). Looking at the world that had been created onstage (and built to Caligarian dimensions), I was overwhelmed and it occurred to me that the hurt that we carry around with us, the injustices that we feel, are all so absurd. And it’s not absurdity in any funny sense, but an absurdity that stems from some sense of self-importance. Then I remembered something that Richard had said a while ago, when he referred to us, (presumably us being members of our present society) as “evolved, broken and stupid beings”.
I was, most definitely, having a moment. I’ve seen Sarah shake those bells since and it hasn’t had the same effect on me. At that particular point in time a meandering train of thought suddenly felt like it held some weight. Something emerged, and then like the Polkaroo, disappeared. I couldn’t put my finger on what had seemed so clear to me at that moment; it had vanished. And like the absent actor whose presence the Polkaroo always replaced, I’m waiting for that moment to re-emerge.
--Liz Peterson, Production Intern