EDITOR'S NOTE: Every week during the run of Jason Robert Brown's musical The Last Five Years at WaterTower Theatre, TheaterJones will feature one item collected by director Kelsey Leigh Ervi for a display about breakups. The musical chronicles a relationship through song, with one character telling the story from meeting to break-up; and the other character from break-up to first meeting. The musical stars Monique Abry as Catherine and Seth Womack as Jamie; Adam C. Wright is the musical director. Preview performances are June 8-10; opening is June 11. The show runs through July 1.
Here's the first Object Spotlight, with the description from the person who submitted it, and then the object. Excerpts from Ervi's director's notes follow.
February 1991 – August 2014
This framed black and white photograph entitled “All the World’s a Stage” was given to me by my ex-wife on my 30th birthday back in 2001. My ex and I were very different people, and getting this for my birthday meant a lot. She told me that it was “so me” when she saw it. She knew I’d love it, and I did. Our relationship ended because our differences moved us in different directions, away from each other. We are no longer friends. We don’t talk. We don’t really have anything to talk about. But this doesn’t mean I dislike her or wish her ill will. Things just didn’t work out. That happens. I still love this gift. It is a wonderful reminder of some great times we had.
From the Director's Notes:
A few years ago, while visiting a friend in Los Angeles and exploring the city, we happened upon The Museum of Broken Relationships. The collection consisted of carefully curated objects from romantic, familial, and other relationships that had ended. Next to each object was a small card that said the time span of the relationship, where the relationship existed, and a short description of the object’s connection to the relationship. The experience of glimpsing into a stranger’s past and the connection that a particular object had to their broken relationship was arresting. I was fascinated by the transformation of people’s relationships to these potent objects: how something could hold so much meaning while in a partnership, and how quickly that meaning could change once that partnership had ended.
While preparing for The Last Five Years, my experience at the museum kept bubbling to the surface. I began searching my apartment for any objects that I knowingly or unknowingly had held onto from my past. My most recent relationship ended three years ago and I was certain I had purged of everything that held any significance. But I did find one object: a print she had given me for my birthday. Almost immediately, a rush of memory went through me. I remembered when she gave it to me. I remembered where we were and how I felt. And then my memory went even further back. I remembered our first kiss. I remembered the way she looked when I told her I loved her. I remembered fighting with her over a stupid video game. I remembered what the weather was like the morning she broke up with me. Despite the time that had passed, this object still had the power to transport me to those potently emotional moments.
To me, The Last Five Years, is a collection of objects. This story is a glimpse into a relationship of differing perspectives filled with the full array of human emotion: joy, pain, amazement, resentment, anger, doubt, and love, among others. Are all of these emotions invalidated because this relationship has ended? What effect does time have on the answer?
When you enter the theater at WaterTower during the run of The Last Five Years, it will be very obvious to the audience that our scenic design drew heavy inspiration from my experience at the museum. But the audience won’t be able to get up close with everything on our stage. So in an effort to provide the audience with a more close-up experience, we’ve created a small-scale version of objects from broken relationships in the Lobby of our theater. These objects were donated to me from friends and colleagues and will be on display throughout the run of the show. I warmly invite you to arrive early for the show for a chance to view our lobby display. My hope is that it will provide a small hint of the experience I had in Los Angeles. And if anything, will have you reflecting on what objects you might have held onto and their meaning has or has not changed over time.