This last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Evan Brenner, the man behind The Buddha: In His Own Words. Evan describes his show as “The extraordinary life of the Buddha assembled from the original texts and performed as a one-man play.” And yeah, that about sums it up. What you can’t really gather, though, from the website, and even from the coverage of Evan’s show in the media, is the total passion and sincerity with which Evan’s performance embodies.
I, along with my wife Ali, were lucky enough to attend his Saturday night performance at the Boston Center for the Arts. I was supposed to photograph it but unfortunately because of the intimate setting of the venue the shutter and mirror sounds from my Canon EOS were just too loud for comfort. So, for a nice change, I was able to enjoy the show as a spectator and not just as a photog. But I still had to take the photos – so Evan was kind enough to invite me back during the week for a private performance. This way, I could be as curious with my camera as I desire and wander around the stage, which is exactly what I did last night.
Evan actually performed the entire second act of his one-man show for me, with lighting effects and all. Yet, because of time considerations, and probably because of the pure passion he has for what he’s immersed himself in for who-knows-how-long – he did this performance for me, in costume, and in hyperspeed! It was The Buddha: In His Own Words, Act II, on fast forward. It was very challenging! Evan was moving around the stage as fast as you’d expect a performer to move when doing their performance in double-time. He was zigging and zagging across the stage, taking his various positions. He was contorting his body in ways only a performer or yoga student would, as if to wake his body from a day’s long slumber to ready for the evening’s show. His hands more expressive than I remember them being at Saturday’s show. His facial expressions, eye movements, even his mouth, all exagerated for the sake of waking himself and, I think, giving me some some color to work with in my compositions.
So, that’s what I ended up with – Evan Brenner, as The Buddha, fully animated and, best of all, sincere and full of passion. You can’t help but get a sense from Evan that he’s not just a student of Buddhism, but also a bit of a teacher. The books on his stage most likely all read by him over the past twenty years. As a spectator viewing with my own eyes, and as a photographer viewing through the viewfinder, I believe Evan. I imagine that’s all that he, and any stage performer, can ask for.
You can see all the photographs here, on Flickr. Please open to full screen mode, using the button at the bottom left.