03: Living

Previously on Stamina..


22 Feb 2017 – 7:35am

The house lights are down, you and I are sitting in complete darkness.

Familiar beeps and squeaks, an advertisement for Mailchimp, then “We’re going to start with a conversation I had with Jad a few weeks ago..” It’s an episode of Radiolab, the podcast. In fact it’s this episode, The Primitive Streak, about humans, embryos, and ‘the 14 day rule’, which limits the study of dish grown human embryos to 14 days. It’s an amazing episode, and I’ve linked it so you can hear the kind of audio storytelling that is so richly alive and human that you’ll become obsessed as I am with hearing all the shows. My favourite parts are the descriptions of the living embryos as they grow – day 8, day 9, day 10, day 12. Each day the little blob of cells – not yet recognisably human – completely transform as cells start to write the story of the entity which will soon form a life sustaining bond with it’s mother (it’s during this time that the placenta begins to form).

It’s really amazing to hear. And I won’t spoil any more of the story by describing it here.

In the full darkness of the theatre (which you can recreate at home by blindfolding yourself as you listen to the episode!) the story is immense. As lights begin to warm the stage, you first hear, then see five figures passing a football around. You’ve seen the scene a thousand times before, only this time it’s five girls honing their marking and short passing skills. They’re quite good. No fumbles at all. You hope they become AFL stars in the future. By the heat (this theatre is VERY well equipped..) and angle of the light, it’s mid afternoon. After school. An outer suburban oval, with toilet block.

Mid stage, the door of the access toilet opens in a rush and two school girls, followed by a guy (you think he has slightly reddened lips), and another couple of girls appear on stage, giggly and guilty. They teenagers exit as quickly as they enter, and it is easy to presume that somebody probably just got kissed. A lot.

The waft of a heady scent from the direction of the toilet reveals the teens’ truthful after school activity, and before you think to suggest (from zero personal experience) that it may have been less conspicuous if they’d done it in the open somewhere the smell could disperse, they’ve gone, leaving an empty stage.

Well, almost empty. You only notice them now, but deep in the back corner of the stage, are two more high school kids. A boy and a girl. They stand facing each other but often slightly turning away. They’re smiling, hands are held, but low and loosely, ready to drop if the secret is threatened.

Slowly, typically, the light fades..

In your mind, time marches on, but you know that despite the saccharine sweet tinged dioramas of life presented before you, that these kids are alright.

This has probably been too dreamy a section, and little, yet, to do with Stamina.