I’m sitting at a play, a concert, or a performance of some kind and the end is drawing near. The performers start taking their curtain calls and – what, not again?! – I see that the crowd is easing to its feet to provide the now-seemingly-obligatory standing ovation. Sigh. At this moment I either probably shrug my shoulders at my date in a move that says, “Well, we might as well join them,” or stage a pouty sit-in at my seat: “There is no way they deserve this ovation and I’m not doing it!” Stand up, sit down – what’s the difference either way? What does the standing ovation really mean any more?
Tonight it meant a hell of a lot. Tonight it meant the performance of Jonna’s Body: Please Hold by actor Jonna Tamases was wonderful. Tonight, I knew even before the curtain call that this woman wasn’t going to get a standing ovation because that’s what people do, she was going to get one because that’s what she deserved.
In Victoria for one night only, this one-woman show was both a hilarious and serious look at Jonna’s battle with not one or two, but three different types of cancer. A master at facial expressions and voices, Jonna has created personas for her various body parts as well as her body’s ‘phone operator’ that helps keep the parts together. It is nothing short of brilliant.
When I laughed, which was often, tears grew at the corners of my eyes. And a few tears appeared when things grew sad, too. I wasn’t one of the people in the audience who knows what it is like to live with cancer. But people I know know. And Jonna does – that much is for certain. While her experiences seemed as though they were almost too much for one person to bear, her current joy and zest for life is something that all of us should seek. She’s made it! In more ways than one.
Jonna Tamases deserved that every bit of that standing ovation tonight. And even the high-pitched whistle I felt compelled to offer up too!