Warning: This video details a suicide attempt
Words are powerful. Hollywood spends billions of dollars every year trying to amaze us with the latest dazzling visual effects, but personally, I much prefer simple spoken words. It’s one of the reasons why theatre is one of my favourite art forms. Sure there are the big Broadway spectacles, but I’m never more happier than I’m when watching plays where actors just talk to each other. It’s the power of words, and I love it.
Which is why I don’t understand why I haven’t experienced more spoken word performances. I’ve always loved what I’ve seen in the past, but it’s not a medium I naturally seek out. So I decided to change that. After a quick search, I came across this performance of “Living Proof” by Andrea Gibson. I then sat in riveted silence from beginning to end. It was astonishing. I don’t know if I could ever be that brave. That vulnerable. To stand up in front of an audience and expose myself in such an intimate manner. It was beautiful, but also raw, in a way that made me feel privileged to have been allowed to bear witness to this story. A story that is simultaneously hopeful and tragic. Passionate, with a hint of the surreal.
That being said, Gibson takes the time to assure the audience that this story is true. That on the day Gibson decided to kill themself, their plans were held up by a man who was threatening to do the same. Gibson was suddenly faced with the situation of fervently wishing that this man would live, while simultaneously wanting to end their own life. I cannot imagine the emotional gymnastics that that must have entailed. Thankfully, both Gibson and the man ultimately chose life. In fact, Gibson says that it was the experience of watching this stranger choose to keep living that saved their own life. Knowing that we are all connected and in this together made them want to keep living.
I should note that I’m doing a terrible job of describing this poem. Gibson’s words and voice are powerful and hauntingly beautiful, so I’ll leave the rest to them. All I can say is that this performance is proof positive of the power of words. Just simple words, masterfully arranged and spoken from the heart. That’s all that was needed to bring tears to my eyes while making my heart soar. No flashy visuals required.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!