David, a previous participant of The Quest Workshops, recently performed on stage in the autobiographical storytelling piece ‘The Haunting’, here he reflects on his journey with the production.
When I first said I’d participate in The Haunting, I had no idea what it would open up, where it would lead and what I would confront during the process.
After my first meeting with our director Paul Woodward, the subject of my ‘haunting’ shifted and I saw that it was really about my relationship with sex and money. It was a surprising revelation at first and then I started to see how it wasn’t always about that directly, but more about having sex always be something ‘in exchange’ for something else.
I looked at the significant relationships in my life – and I saw how I was almost always the one supporting the other guy, financially or materially. Sometimes, it was really blatant – as with the straight guy who I met when I first moved to New York in 1975: I literally paid his rent, bought him a piano, moved him to L.A. with me – all with the unfulfilled ‘promise’ of sex that actually only happened 11 years later after he was married with children! And then, I asked myself ‘that’s all there was to it?’
The lure of sex and money began haunting me when I was 16 and my schoolmate offered to pimp me and then the first man I had sex with offered me money and that became really clear in speaking with Paul. He was tremendously supportive by preparing a script based on what I said and when I saw it, I was flabbergasted! He had taken what I said and turned it into something authentic and beautiful. When I first delivered what Paul had written, I was moved to tears.
The process of rehearsals was sometimes grueling, sometimes fun and certainly being a part of an ensemble had its fair share of challenges as each of us went through different spaces. There was joy, upset, concern, irritation, laughter, frustration, fulfillment and anger.
When we finally got into the last few weeks, something magical happened and everything seemed to come together…almost! One of our cast members was really unsure if he could deliver his piece; another was fraught with concerns with whether he even wanted to continue….even up to the day of our first performance!
Our last rehearsal (a week before the performances) was surprising for me: I got ‘choked up’ when I got to a line in my script and it was visible, tangible and unexpected. I realized that as much as this was about performance, it was also very much about my real life. About stepping away from what has haunted me and affected my whole life since I was 16. That all the excitement of street life, of hanging out with prostitutes, living with escorts, at one point pimping, buying sex myself…well, at the end of the day, was leaving me unfulfilled. I yearned for the lost innocence of 16-year old little David that was lost that summer’s night. And I saw doing the play as a pathway to regaining it.
The first day of our performance was full of mixed emotions – fear, doubt, worry…would I remember my lines, my cues? How would I feel when I finally stood in front of an audience to share from my heart and soul? As it turned out, with the support of Paul and the fellow cast members, it was absolutely amazing!
Our second performance was a little more challenging for me since I knew we had a full house…and when I was done, I felt drained emotionally and tired physically…and it was worth every hour of rehearsal, of preparation, of sleepless nights memorizing my lines, of anticipation, for those two performances.
Do I want to do a one-man show to share the amazing story of my life lived on the edge, a story of heartbreak and triumph, of incest, rape, surgery, whores and tricks, street life, night life, love for sale, of challenge and acceptance? Without a doubt!
Unquestionably, being in The Haunting was among the peak experiences of my whole life… and I am deeply grateful to Paul, our unrelenting and deeply supportive director, and to Darren, Ade and The Quest for this priceless opportunity.