I was sitting in a park twenty-five years ago watching my kids on the playground when a gentleman sat down next to me. I didn’t really notice him; in fact, I don’t even think I said hi to him.
He said to me, “Did you hear about the Hubble?”
I mumbled some sort of grunt as a reply.
He said, “It’s not working because of the mirrors. It’s got faulty mirrors”
“Um, yeah, I heard that.”
“The Hubble is supposed to find out where we came from, how the universe was created.”
“Um, yeah, I heard that.”
“How can we know where we came from if we can’t even see ourselves? If we can’t see ourselves in a mirror, we will never understand where we came from or where we are going.”
He said something like that and it blew me away. I thought about how interesting it was that a metaphor from outer space could help us in our everyday lives.
I turned to him and looked at him for the first time. He was dressed in a wrinkled suit with a half eaten banana in his breast pocket. The bottoms of his trousers were covered in mud and his shoes were worn out and broken. Think : stereotypical homeless man.
He then said, “It’s part of a conspiracy.”
For the past twenty-five years I have regretted not talking to him further. Instead, I did what most of us would do, I gathered my kids and left the park, a little frightened of the crazy man on the bench.
So much of what we call crazy is filled with truths (or at least half-truths) that can teach us. Metaphors surround us all the time, everywhere. Conspiracy theories abound, and most of them are crazy. Really CRAZY. But they are also really funny! And even if what we call crazy is clothed in a wrinkled and muddy suit, it can be filled with metaphors that hold a “crazy” kind of truth. And it’s really funny!
From this very short encounter sprang my play ROGER (Not His Real Name). A homeless man is waiting in an alley to tell the audience all about The Hubble Telescope and the conspiracy that dates back to Christopher Columbus. He reveals the truth behind JFK, 9/11, George Washington’s wooden teeth, and the REAL reason Dan Snyder won’t change the name of the Redskins. I call it dangerously hilarious and a homeless man’s “House of Cards”; but really I just want to discover if ROGER (Not His Real Name) is crazy or does he know something we don’t.
Matthew Vaky is a former member of the Guthrie Acting Company in Minneapolis. In Minnesota he directed and acted performed at The Mixed Blood Theatre, SteppingStone Theatre, The Illusion Theatre, and the Minnesota Fringe Festival. In Washington, he performed in The Container at Center Stage, The Life of Galileo at the Theatre of the First Amendment, and Chesapeake at The Bay Theatre. He has written and performed three solo shows: Like Lazerus Man! Jesus at Guantanamo, and Roger (Not His Real Name).