My brief stage career went absolutely fabulous, thank you, and I didn’t get one heckler. Truth to tell, that was my biggest concern – someone in the audience would give me trouble because s/he didn’t believe in mediumship or spiritualism. Thankfully, I only had one wild-eyed detractor, and he limited his ranting outside St. Vladamir’s Theatre before and after one of my shows.
For those who couldn’t make it, my one-woman play What?! You’re a Medium?! ran seven times throughout the 11-day Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival. My piece combined storytelling – how I came to be a medium, working alongside my mentor, Sadie – education about psychic scams, and even several readings to audience members. I now remember with a smile my nervous jitters before the first performance – I was near tears. What have I gotten myself into? I chastised myself over and over again while waiting to make my entrance.
I felt a different kind of sadness after taking my bows after the last performance. It was sad to see this fun experience come to an end.
During the run of my play, some of my students volunteered to stand outside the auditorium before and after each show with a clipboard to collect names for my email newsletter list and pass out my business cards to anyone who wanted to stay in contact with me.
As patrons lined up to enter the venue for one of my shows, Kathleen, one of my volunteers, had an interesting run-in with a self-proclaimed “debunker” who was convinced – even before he saw me! – that I was filled with hooey. Kathleen remembered him as a man in his thirties with short hair, a furrowed brow and a tightly cropped butterscotch-coloured beard.
“When I asked him if he’d like to sign up for the email list, he yelled, ‘No!’ And he looked at me with anger in his eyes,” she told me later. “It felt like there was a shield around him, like the air was thick with a kind of pressure that was quite jarring. I just said, ‘Okay, no worries,’ and moved away from him.”
While Kathleen, who is very intuitive in class, went to talk with other people, she said she could feel him trying to stare her down. And when the house manager opened the theatre up for people to enter, she turned her back as he passed by. She hoped the guy wouldn’t cause any trouble during the performance.
I had no idea about this exchange as I mounted the stage and performed my 80-minute show. After I left to generous applause, I headed backstage to the dressing room to change out of my sparkly costume. (Even though it was just a silvery dress and black leggings, I call it a costume because I don’t walk around like that in public – but it seemed fun enough for theatre-wear.)
Kathleen stood outside the theatre with the clipboard as patrons filed out, some talking excitedly, others quietly contemplating what they experienced. I’ll let her finish this story.
“A couple people signed up to receive the newsletter,” she said. “The angry man was standing with a group of five or six women, many of whom had had a reading from Carolyn during the show. And he was ranting, saying things like, ‘Oh, you could tell this was all fake! I just know it! (Carolyn) said everything you (the women) said and turned it around!’
“The women disagreed. “Oh, no,” one replied, ‘(Carolyn) described (my spirit person) just the way he was in life. He was a real joker.’
“But the guy wouldn’t believe it. ‘It’s all a fake,’ he snapped, punching the air to make his point. ‘It’s a fraud!’
“’(Carolyn) got my reading correct,’ another woman said. ‘I thought she was quite accurate.’
“The guy kept yelling and looking around at everyone standing outside the theatre, and the women realized he was set in his ways, so they stopped talking to him and turned away. He looked to me and spat, ‘Charlatan! That’s what all you are!’
“As he walked away, I sent him love. I felt sorry for him; he seemed so adamant to prove himself right. Well, at least he didn’t yell out during the performance.”
Later, after Kathleen told me the story, I apologized profusely for her having to endure the man’s foul mood. Thankfully, she took his bluster in stride and shrugged it off. But I had to wonder – if this fellow was so intent on not enjoying himself, why did he spend his money to buy a ticket?
When I went into the Fringe Theatre project, I knew I’d be playing to people outside of my comfort zone – sceptics who’d sit in their chairs with their arms crossed over their chest. The “yeah, prove it to me” people. So I decided I wouldn’t try to prove a darned thing. I’d just present my life story and demonstrate mediumship. I wasn’t trying to convince anyone or change their viewpoints. I mean, really, how can one change another’s viewpoint? My aim was to just let audiences glimpse into a world and a profession that few people see. And … tell a few jokes.
Which is why I like this comment, which I later received from an attendee via email: “I'm not a believer, per se, but it was an interesting show!”
I can’t ask for a better review.
If you have any questions or comments on this subject or on any other spiritual matter, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please visit me again!