PCS Blog

Chris Coleman’s thoughts on “A Small Fire”

Posted by Hannah Ashley | 08 February 2014

As production for A Small Fire begins, Artistic Director Chris Coleman has just written his letter for the show's playbill. We've decided to start sharing these letters on his blog, so you can read his thoughts on the production in advance of the performance. Enjoy!

Which part of myself is the ‘me’?

That’s the question that philosophers have wrestled with since humans became conscious of their existence. Am I the parent who makes sure those kids have their lunch before the bus arrives? Am I the singer performing in front of this stadium? Am I the enraged lover who smashes the plate on the floor after my status is insulted? Am I the business leader who has figured out how to make gobs and gobs of money? Am I the quiet one in the corner awaiting my turn to be heard?  Am I the laziest son who didn’t want to work in the fields?

And what happens when our attachment to the answer shifts?

For many years of my life, singing in public was a big part of my sense of identity. All through high school I starred in the musical, then as I began my professional career, the roles that caught the community’s attention most involved singing. Then that began to take a backseat to other interests. The 20-year-old version of myself couldn’t imagine being happy without the singing being front and center. Today, I mostly enjoy singing for myself and the dogs, and have found a lot of other interests that feed me. Interests to which my 20-year-old self would likely have said, “Really?” A shift definitely occurred.

I remember the esteemed scholar, Joseph Campbell, whose writing did so much to bring the fertile ground of mythology back into our contemporary minds, being asked what we do with the ‘heroic energy’ (that he believed was required of each of us to become whole human beings) as we age. His answer was something like, “well, you can’t identify with the body, as the body is going to fade: it’s temporary, it is designed to fail. But there is another part of you that goes on, that is not attached to the body, that can see the whole story from a distance. And if you are identifying  with that part of yourself, with your soul, then the falling away of the body is just another chapter in the story.”

Adam Bock has captured something of Campbell’s wisdom in
A Small Fire. He allows us to step into the terror; the sheer, overwhelming terror that must arrive when our strength, our body, our identity begin to fail. And miraculously, he also allows us to see the grace that can show up in the most unlikely places along this journey that is a life.



A Small Fire is on the main stage February 22 - March 23.
Find out more about the production here.


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