Where do you turn when your own body betrays you? Who do you become when a defining factor slowly begins to fade away? The deeply personal Thank You For Staring is one woman’s attempt to answer these questions in the face of a crippling condition.
Patrice Gerideau (shown left), the tour de force of this one-woman show, is many things—a writer, a performer, a Christian and a proud African-American woman. But all of these things are called into question one day during her senior year of college when she wakes up to discover a series of white patches on her face. They cover the parts of her forehead, the bridge of her nose, her eyes and her cheeks. Seemingly overnight, Gerideau has begun to fade away. The doctor’s diagnosis is vitiligo.
The show chronicles the next sixteen years of Gerideau’s life, filled with high, lows, and a bit of divine intervention. It is divided into five “movements,” which explore the different parts of her journey, including denial, discrimination, loss of faith, and a search for love.
These separations are defined both literally and figuratively by a film clapper and a spoken word poem. Both serve to set the scene and place the audience in the present moment.
Journeys of exploration and acceptance rarely run a straight course, and Gerideau does well to remind us exactly where we are in her head.
While the set is minimal, director Carol Gadby makes good use of a few storytelling props and technical displays. Building blocks help turn the stage from a doctor’s office to a car. A screen projector announces the name of a new movement and provides the background for a particularly touching reflection on family.
Thank You for Staring
by Patrice Gerideau
at Goethe Institut
812 7th Street NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
Well-placed voiceovers play an integral part in the show, introducing a new perspective that strengthens and propels the story. Sometimes it is enough for Gerideau to imagine the conversations in her head, but when we watch her listen, the words take on a physical weight.
Gerideau delivers a powerhouse performance. She is not simply recounting her experience, she is reliving it. The end of the show is hardly the end of her journey, but she does seem a lot closer to answering her questions.