Dads, Daughters and BroadFish: An Update
by Melissa D’Agostino
Hello lovely folks!
Last Saturday we presented our work-in-progress, BroadFish, to a wonderfully warm house at the Studio Theatre at Harbourfront Centre as part of #HatchTO. It was a wonderful evening of performing this theatrical piece in its current incarnation, and receiving some insightful and interesting feedback from the audience. I couldn’t be more pleased with how it all went down!
Making theatre is a fascinating process. When my team and I went into the theatre Monday morning, we had very little in the way of a clear script, or a solid idea of what BroadFish is or isn’t. We asked a lot of questions. We answered some, and left others for another time, the next phase of development.
I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with Hatch on this project. For the first few days of the week, I was in my usual headspace: we have to make a show. We have to have answers to all of our questions. We have to be perfect.
This attitude, of course, did not serve the true exploration of the piece. And so, luckily, through the encouragement and pragmatism of my wonderful creative team, and everyone at Harbourfront Centre, I was able to let go of that by Wednesday, and just dive into the unknown. Let things be imperfect. And let beautiful gifts emerge from the ‘not knowing’.
Over the past few days I’ve realized what a metaphor this is for life, and more specifically, for weddings.
A lot of pressure gets put on that one day. The big day. The Wedding Day. This makes sense, since a wedding can often involve large groups of people, big sums of money, and huge emotions. A lot seems to be at stake.
All that said, the times that my fiancé and I, or my family and I have been able to just let go of our expectations and give ourselves permission to not know and not be perfect have been some of the most satisfying moments in this process.
Several weeks ago I wrote about redefining Father/Daughter wedding rituals with my Dad who has Multiple Sclerosis.
As it turns out, what happened between my Dad and I after that post became the closing monologue and an integral part of our presentation of BroadFish. And my Father was in the audience on Saturday, April 19th, and so, got to hear me talk about it. Which meant the world to me.
To close this chapter of #HatchTO, and as we move forward into the next stages of #BroadFish, I include the final part of that speech here for you. Thank-you for following our journey. Your comments, likes, retweets, insights and perspectives helped the piece so much. And I am bolstered and inspired by your courage, honesty and humour.
Here’s what happened between me and my Father:
“I went to my parents’ house a few weeks ago to choose a song with him, and practice dancing. I was really nervous about it. I always feel very protective of my Dad and his sensitivity. I want him to know it’s okay to feel so much around me. Because I’m feeling so much too.
We listened to some songs, and settled on this Johnny Cash cover of In My Life by the Beatles (that song plays). We danced a bit in the kitchen, and it seemed to all go okay. But, if I’m being honest, he didn’t seem thrilled.
I debated whether or not to mention it. I’m always worried about making other people happy. An eternal pleaser. Was this a time to push?
I decided yes, I should make sure this is right for him. I asked him if he really liked this song? Is he happy with this for our moment?
He said yes. But I knew he wasn’t.
So we just sat there for about a minute. In silence. Together. We just let our desires float up to the surface and hover.
And then he, very quietly, said: “I guess we can’t do a tango, eh?”
And every fear bubbled up inside of me. What if we try this and he can’t? How much will that hurt and disappoint him? How much will that hurt and disappoint me? Can we actually face this situation with open hearts and take the risk that this might not work? And risk the pain that comes with that?
I decided, if he was brave enough to suggest it, I was brave enough to endure any pain that came from a discovery that we could not tango.
So we chose a song, and we got up and we started dancing.
And by the universe and everything within it, my sweet Dad who walks with a cane, and has trouble moving his left leg started to lead me in a beautiful tango. And his face – his face lit up like I haven’t seen it light up in so long. It was surprising and joyous and full of love.
And we danced. And our hearts soared.
And even if by the time the wedding gets here, something changes in his body, and we can never dance like that again: we will always have that cloudy Thursday afternoon in my parents’ kitchen when our hearts soared and our feet moved, and the only thing that mattered was that moment.”