It’s 10:53 in Williamston. I mean, that’s what’s playing at the Williamston Theatre now through June 16.
What I’m really thinking about, though – since experiencing the show’s first night last week – is what time is it? Not the fact that actor John Lepard’s character is daily consumed by having to be at the hospital ER at 10:53. No, that’s not it. That’s just what set the wheels of thought in motion about living and dying and timing.
Lepard’s character (John) eventually explains to Kathryn (played by Sandra Birch) why he always appears in the hospital waiting room (where she’s holed up while her husband is dying) at 10:53 every day. At first I was just wound up in the story of the daily time deadline and the clock above the elevator.
As the story evolved, however, it occurred to me that this play had some relevance in my own life. And, maybe even some divine timing. Timing — as in, what year is it? And, 10:53. How many days have I made it past 10:53? Pick your hour, it doesn’t matter.
It was beginning to dawn on me. “Of course, you idiot,” (I thought to myself, with an imaginary thwack to the side of the head). By the time John in 10:53 revealed his tale of woe, I’d gotten the message. The message that I think playwright Annie Martin was aiming for in this, the premier of her play.
I’d nodded to her on the way out of the theatre, affirming my enjoyment of the production. All the while, I was thinking that, in another week, I’d not only be tearing off another week on the calendar, I’d be launching an entire new decade in this life of mine.
10:53 – why was it getting to me? What year is this, anyway? What does this marker year mean, and what am I going to do about it? How many days of 10:53 does it take to reach 70 years? I don’t want to think about it. Besides, where did that last decade go, anyway? This can’t be right, that I’ve flipped over to a new one. Why is time going faster?
Somehow, 10:53 inspired me to think about it. How, for instance, am I going to handle all the 10:53s coming up? How many do I have left? Will I savor each one — and, in gratitude, go with the flow of the days? Gracefully? Joyfully? Smiling?
Orchids and onions suddenly come to mind. I hadn’t thought of that in years. As I write this, I’m gazing at – and smiling – at the beautiful orchid plant our daughter sent me for my birthday. I recall, from the deep recesses of memory (deep at 70), that we used to have fun – in ancient days of college newspaper columns—with orchids and onions.
Orchids: to anything positive and celebratory. Onions: to anything negative or distasteful. Today, we probably use thumbs up or down. Or likes on Facebook.
Martin’s script brings up the theme of getting stuck in life, and the decision arises about staying static or making a change. As she points out in a promo clip: “Life is short, so what do you do in the time that you get?”
Listening to the sellout crowd discussing the play afterwards with Martin and Tony Caselli (artistic director), I knew the audience clearly heaped orchids on this production. Clearly, we all got the message.
I’ve never owned an orchid plant before. We’d walked through a wondrous greenhouse orchid room while in California at Easter time. Knowing that’s where our daughter got the orchid idea, the beautiful plant will prompt me to remember the sequence of events in this birthday month… and to strive for an orchid kind of day, no matter what time I have left.
I’m glad Martin’s 10:53 played a part in the memory.
Links for 10:53 at Williamston Theatre
’10:53′ A Compelling Look at Love, Life and Death Lansing State Journal