Monday, 20 August 2012

Power Play.

Last night Sis 3 and I caught the train to the Old Fitzroy in Kings X to see a play. I was particularly interested because the writer is Mark Rogers. Who is Mark Rogers, you may well ask? Mark Rogers (note I have written the name three times so you will remember him), is an up and coming talent in several of the dramatic arts, and he is my granddaughter Ahleigh’s bloke. That's him in the pic below. He usually looks less battered.

So I had to go. Right? No, but I am very glad I did. Mark's play, directed by Sanja Simic explored the phenomenon of ‘investment’ in another person’s life, and the right of the ‘investor’ to interfere in that life.

Parents make a huge investment in their children and do assert control, that wisely directed and with a bit of luck, turns our children into adults we are proud to know. But outside that relationship, how much right to control can we ‘buy’.

 Dale Carnegie offered the proposition that: “If you want someone to like you, don’t do something for them, let them do something for you.” Seems counter intuitive until we realise we are allowing them to invest in our success. The moment someone invests money, time or love they are hooked into a supporting role to protect their investment. This play, Blood Pressure, as the name implies, explores pressure of ‘ownership’ that starts when one brother donates an organ to the other.

The donor cannot stop himself taking responsibility for his brother’s health. The organ is being rejected but the sick brother will not seek, or even agree to treatment. He is tired of the business of being sick and just wants it to stop. His brother reacts with increasing frustration until the tussle over control of his life escalates to the point where the donor brother becomes so frustrated with his sick brother's refusal to allow him to take control, that the donor suicides.

Such pure tragedy is rarely done so well. But it is the question it explores that makes this play so special. No dramatic work I know of has ever explored this particular human interaction from that point of view. In fact I doubt Mark is quite aware of how important this play is!

 After the’ curtain’ I sat for a while. It brought back vividly the plight of my mother who, following a crippling stroke, tried so hard to recover enough to be independent again, but after a year and a half, she knew she had done all she could and was never going to make it all the way back.

Once she realised she would never regain her dignity, she just wanted it to all end. But streams of visitors continued their relentless encouragement.

Most who visit the terminally ill try to be cheery, when in fact all they need is a loving hand to hold while they get on with dying. Eventually she took control and emigrated!

Many in the family are still wondering why she moved out of range of their visits. This play put flesh and blood onto the bones of my not-totally-formed understanding of what she did back then. Of course she died, but only after she insisted on her right to stop fighting and just let it happen.

She removed the ‘Blood Pressure’ by removing herself, all the way to New Zealand, so she could die peacefully, in the end, satisfying nobody’s expectations but her own. I love you Mum.


  1. your mum was obviously pretty remarkable! as is your ashleigh's fella.

    i love the premise of the story. it seems the talent flows thick in your neck of the woods :)

  2. (I just wrote a long comment but lost it - if it suddenly reappears then please delete one of them)

    Marks play is tremendously insightful and interesting, working on several levels. My son was angry with Sean when time and again re-hab failed - he was frustrated by all the time and energy he was sacrificing to make his father 'better', and of course it failing.

    My sister works exclusively with terminally ill patients, she would say the same as you - cheerful "let's fight this thing together" doesn't work, support and understanding is much more important.

    Your mother was a brave woman Stafford!

  3. A very moving and insightful post.

  4. I hope Mark's play receives the recognition it deserves ... I would love to see "Blood Pressure" make it all the way to the US.

    Yes, your mother was remarkable ... an attribute passed along to you.

  5. Very interesting commentary, Stafford! I could well imagine the talent running along you is making you extremely proud. I would! Tell that Mark fella he's doing fine (and I'll remember his name)


  6. oh my- this reminds me so much of my mothers last few weeks- she wanted to go home and my father was too frightened to take her home. She stopped eating. I could not convince him to let her die at home. Awful.
    The lines "let them do something for you.” are ones I am thankful for- it will help me in my relationship with my troubled son. Thank you Stafford for taking the time to write this post.

    1. Of course the Dale Carnegie book, 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' was designed to allow friendship to be 'manipulated'. But it did tell me why some of my relationships did not work. I put myself in the role or 'the saviour' and people resent it. Good luck with the son. It allows them to feel valued and needed too.

  7. Wonderful post with a powerful message. Thank you, Stafford.

  8. As the principle stakeholder in two small lives, I found your review fascinating. Hope "Blood Pressure" gets a run in QLD.

  9. In the end satisfying our own expectations is what counts. This is a very moving post, Stafford. Thank you.

  10. Very interesting post, Stafford - as usual. Hope Blood Pressure makes it to Qld. And you write with such feeling about your Mum, here and elsewhere. Caring for someone intimately really does have all kinds of spin-offs, doesn't it. Incidentally, is that a photo of your Mum with the dog? Reminds me of something by Walker Evans/.

    1. That is Mum at about 12 with the family dog, that and all others before and after were called Rowdy. I don't think they are doing Blood Pressure in Qld, but will tell you what they are planning to do. :-)

  11. One being aware of their own aging perhaps brings perspective, wisdom, and benefit to humankind. In my humble opinion, you have applied some of this synergy in an excellent post.

    I imagine it is possible to share insight with humor, provocation, truth, and other tools. Well then, your tool bag must be very heavy


  12. Thanks QwkDrw, always nice to have you visit and I do read your interesting posts on urban planning questions, mainly about San Francisco, but they tend to apply to most other growing cities.

  13. Mark Rogers.

    What a moving storyline. He must be a &*%$# good writer.

    I loved this post - watch me over at FB. And maybe I need an update of my photo too.

    Cheers, Stafford!

  14. Oh, this was very moving. Your "Mum" was an amazing woman.

    This play, written by Mark Rogers, Mark Rogers, Mark Rogers :) sounds fascinating. My son is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Sounds like something he would LOVE.


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