Richardson — Two couches. Three stools. One guitar. One spotlight. This is everything that you see on stage at PostSecret: The Show at the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts Center’s Bank of America Thaetre. Three actors and one musician, who scores the show with his guitar, eventually join the stage. There is not much movement rather than the actors shifting from sitting to standing, and I can say without hesitation this is one of the most powerful and poignant things I have seen onstage.
While waiting for the show to begin the audience is seated, looking at the bare set. A projection screen lights up and the tweets from anyone using the hashtags #postsecretshow or #psrichardson are being live fed to screen. Some are audience members tweeting their excitement and others are secrets that are already being released.
Having interviewed creator Frank Warren a couple weeks ago, I was eager to see the show he described. There are no costume changes, scene changes or set changes, yet none of that was ever needed for this show to serve its intended purpose. There was however an intermission, and thank goodness for that because I don’t think I could have held it together for act two without it. One piece of advice: bring tissues. Lots of them.
Frank had described how close of a community PostSecret was, and that was proved to me when the sweet lady and her husband sitting next said “How long have you been reading PostSecret? I have been up every Sunday checking new postcards for the past 10 years.” They then proceeded to ask if they could buy me a glass of wine, and would not accept any payment. Clearly I was in love with the PostSecret community already.
PostSecret is not just a show, it’s an emotional experience. Just looking around at the diversity of the audience is shocking. At times I held my breath, and at others I began to run out of breath from the sheer laughter that some of the secrets evoked. I laughed and cried and at moments when I was in fear. Seeing this show will get you in touch with your full emotional spectrum; I did not know I was capable of experiencing so many different feelings in such a short period.
The show starts off with narration from creator Frank Warren telling a story about a call he received one night while working for the national suicide hotline. The actors create that scene, and they’ve got you hooked from that point on.
This is not just entertainment, but healing. Throughout hearing multiple secrets, you hear the stories of how these people overcame or are overcoming things like mental illness and dealing with autism. The spectrum ranges from funny little anecdotes to downright heartbreaking confessions. Many secrets heard in the second act are from people sitting in the theater. Some of the secrets make you desperately want to seek out the writer and hug them and tell them things will get better. I found myself looking around trying to match a secret to a face, and then I realized that this was an impossible task.
Watching this show truly makes you understand the human connection and gives you insight into basic human decency. I have never felt so close to a group of strangers. Simple, kind gestures are so important, as you never know what people are going through and how your actions towards them could affect them. Sniffles were heard all over the theater.
One of the most important points that can be made about this show is that everyone will have a different experience. There will be no consensus on what was most important or the impact it will have overall, because it is based on what you are going through. Go see it alone, or bring your family or a loved one. You will thank yourself for the rewarding and unique experience.
The motion that Frank Warren and his co-creators T.J. Dawe (also acting), Kahlil Ashanti, and Justin Studds, along with actors Maria Glanz, Kerry Impema and musician Ben Singer, have put forward is such an important contribution to any community. You learn about others and even more importantly, about yourself.