Stories can help us understand who we are. We tell them to ourselves and each other, cementing memories of past events and reinforcing our ideas of where we fit in society. Marathon – a one-man show by TJ Dawe from Vancouver – is the story of his quest to reveal the “real”, and the reasons behind why he is who he is.
Dawe is a writer, performer, director, podcaster and blogger. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, is published, and he writes and performs extensively in Canada and around the world. He’s also an accomplished storyteller and he talks fast. So fast we worry we won’t keep up but we do, easily.
Dawe has the audience with him from the beginning of this 80-minute show until the very last sentence which, as he promises, ties the whole thing together. In essence, Marathon weaves together two tales to illustrate how insight into our true selves can bring us the balance we need to “be” in the world.
Success as a track and field athlete never rated highly in Dawe’s ambitions for himself in his younger years. Like those of us of the same vintage, however, he took to heart the advice of so many of the hugely popular ’80s teen films, which all sent the same message: Don’t waste that last year of school! Get off your backside and make the most of it! He put on some running shoes and joined the team, determined to be a part of the interschool athletics meet – the biggest event on the high school calendar.
Dawe’s explorations in search of his true self form the basis of the second, interwoven stream of this show. Childhood recollections and adult experiences are examined through his studies of the Enneagram – a model of human personality which groups people into nine “types” and three instinctual subtypes. Can understanding these bring clarity to why we do the things we do in the way we do them?
Belonging is what we are thirsting for. As Dawe graduated to running at night to build his skills in secret, preparing for the big end-of-term race, he discovered a hidden determination and strength he didn’t know he had. His attempt to be a part of the group had grown into something else entirely.
We came in to watch someone entertain us but in a way we become the show. It’s impossible not to reflect on ourselves, size ourselves up against the personality traits and instincts we’re hearing about. Which do we value? What drives us? Whether or not the Enneagram theories resonate with us really doesn’t matter. It’s fascinating to follow this absorbing performer as he draws a line through seemingly disconnected ideas to add meaning and integrate his ideas.
Marathon takes us on several laps of the stadium but we all end up in a different place to where we’d started. Enlightening.
Marathon is being presented at the Bakehouse Theatre (Main Stage) until March 7.
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