On Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, “Yes is a long time,” a theater and dance production written by Sibyl O’Malley and directed by UCSB faculty member Mira Kingsley, opened for a three-night run at UCSB’s Hatlen Theater.
The production chronicles the surprisingly true story of a father, mother, and son whose lives are changed after a meteorite lands in their guest bathroom.
Though the text was written by O’Malley, Kingsley (who also plays “Son”), and performers Antonio Anagaran Jr. (“Father”) and Jacqueline Kim (“Mother”), had much creative control with the look and feel of the show.
I had the unique experience of reading and discussing the show’s text in a class before watching it. Within, O’Malley wrote very few stage directions and I found the text, already somewhat experimental, rather hard to follow.
I could not imagine the show while reading it and was curious to see how it would be executed.
I was more than pleasantly surprised. Kingsley and the other performers took O’Malley’s skeleton of a play and fleshed out something beautiful.
The show began with the three performers speaking out of character and directly to the audience.
This prologue was mostly an explanation of each performer’s reasons for getting involved in “Yes,” and ended with a offer of thanks to the audience.
As the performers began their first segment of dance against a gorgeous, starred background made of three large video panels, I could tell that this would be a lot different from any other show I have ever been to.
In this first segment, the performers showed the travel of the meteorite through space and to the family’s home (signified with a small white model house in one corner of the They then finally became “Father,” “Mother,” and “Son,” and began sharing about their lives before the meteorite hits.
I should clarify: this “meteorite” is not anything near the size of the monstrosity that took out the dinosaurs. Though the show contains much “spectacle,” something O’Malley is an admitted fan of, it is not in the form of massive world desctruction you might find in a Hollywood blockbuster.
Instead, the small space rock comes through the roof of the guest bathroom (without damaging anyone) and instantly becomes an obvious symbol.
The meteorite is a manifestation of each family member’s disappointments and desires. It is hope, and it is a false idol. But in the end, the meteorite also does not really matter. It is also just a narrative tool, used to get us into the heads of these three everyday people. Think of it as the “Rosebud” to “Citizen Kane.”
However, I do not feel like I left understanding more about these characters and their relationships with each other, which normally would really bother me. But the sheer visual beauty of the show and its frequent bursts of humor kept me interested the whole time.
One of my favorite points is when the characters transition to show the meteorite arriving at the home. The performers’ hands dip into the model house and emerge in some sort of gold coating that glinted in the (excellently administered) stage lights; the effect was stunning.
The middle act was also fantastic. In it, the performers transformed into rock n’ roll scientists. This entire portion of the play was presented like a rock opera, completely with cheesey rock ballads filled to the brim with metaphors comparing space to vaginas and various other sexual innuendos.
I never really understood “Rocky Horror,” but “Yes is a long time” certainly gave off that kind of vibe at moments — and it was extremely enjoyable.
In short, “Yes is a long time” was a dream. I watched without feeling compelled to take part by overanalyzing what was going on, while knowing it would take me some time to digest what I had seen.
Though I left not really sure of what would become of these characters or if it actually even mattered, it is a production I would willingly watch again. For me, that is a true sign of artistic accomplishment. To those who did not see it, be on the lookout for future performances. This work of many creative minds and disciplines was such an accomplishment through and through.