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If you're reading these lines it's because you want to know more

You’re interested in the deeper meanings and hidden intentions behind this show. As humans, we need moments of unknown and uncertainty to guide our next meaningful step. The eternal quest for enlightenment starts with questions, not answers.

This show started with a question: do we have room for mystery in the modern world? I don’t have an answer. Answers can reduce the scope of conversations. There is nothing worse than fake certainty that stops others from thinking.

So, let’s just have a dialogue. We’ll gather in a room with other people, and we will experience mystery. Like a language that connects us — something we need, something we can enjoy. In the end, there will be different answers hidden in the shape of new questions.

We will never know everything. And that is a beautiful thing.

— Helder Guimarães

A Thousand Hands

By César García-Alvarez

Mystery, we are constantly reminded, is a very delicate thing. A fragile condition whose survival is dependent on the many actions and gestures of a few courageous individuals who dare to deny us — even if only temporarily — our ability to see and know. The history of humanity has been guided by a desire to come to terms with the opaqueness of our world; to fully grasp the things that exist between what we can explain and what we can’t. We strive to do this in order to fully command the many environs in which we live. This urge to know has made the most marvelous creations and discoveries possible. It inspired brilliant minds to look to the heavens in search for our place in the cosmos; brave explorers to confront unforgiving waters in search of new lands; scientists to put themselves at risk in order to understand how to cure disease; thinkers to pen new ways of being; artists to create powerful works to transform our collective consciousness; and fearless citizens to mobilize in hope of bringing closer the dawn of a better tomorrow.

While much has been said about the potential and impact of these acts of radical imagination, what we don’t hear as often is what they also tell us about our shared humanity; about the complexities and intricacies of being human. Our desire to know is as much part of a process of enlightened discovery as it is a part of our desire to bring an end to the uncomforting realization that there may be things that exist beyond us; things we’ll never understand and thus never control. Since the age of the Enlightenment ideas of clarity, objectivity, and universal truth have transpired alongside a fear of all that which exists in the realm of unknowable; all that which lies at the outskirts of the seen.

These types of fears and insecurities have dangerous potential. The same imaginative impulse that led to the discovery of the New World, thousands of scientific advances, and an expanded understanding of the universe, also forced many into exile, instigated violence, and created rigid dichotomies — light and dark, us and them, good and evil.

Amidst the clamor of a world structured by well-defined systems of knowledge and singular positions it becomes difficult to listen to the hopeful echoes of hidden wisdoms. Our capacity to stitch together an absolute image of our world ensures our dominance as a species on this planet but it also desensitizes us as living beings; it encourages us to think about the visceral dimensions of life — those that often escape language — as obstacles to truth and clarity.

Despite our insatiable hunger to discover, there are those solitary few who have devoted their lives to preserving the immeasurable potential of all that which we’ve yet to know. Men, and women, of a thousand hands, like surrealist writer Jean Cocteau once wrote, who slow down time and defy the laws of the universe in order to protect our right to believe. Magos, magicians, illusionists, tricksters, and deceivers as they’re often called, these keepers of secrets and guardians of faith carry on their bodies the unparalleled responsibility of keeping us human. While superficially our encounters with them may be summarized as a series of spectacles and awe-inspiring visions, there is more to be said about the importance of their task. Before the body levitates, the coin disappears, and the object vanishes into thin air, a series of meticulous labors has already occurred to protect a precious mystery.

At the end of their performance, before the explosion of applause, we experience a fleeting instant of contemplation — a few seconds when our eyes betray us. Our adrenaline rushes and our breaths deepen just as our minds race through an encyclopedic amount of information desperately trying to rationalize the impossible acts we witnessed. We subtly readjust our position in our chair, hoping the person behind us doesn’t catch us attempting to see closer. We look to the people to our right and left, verifying that the world has not changed around us, and we sharpen our hearing as a last resort to find something that will lead us to unveil the reasons for the enchantment that we cannot comprehend. With nothing more to do, we skeptically bring our hands together — cheers and thunderous vibrations fill the room and with them we are reminded that we are not the all-knowing person we thought we were when we first arrived.

Mystery humbles us; it forces us into a beautiful surrender where we come to find the world through what we can feel, smell, hear, touch and not just see. It transforms us from passive spectators to embodied beings conscious and aware of the space we share with other people and the responsibilities we have to one another. These are the moments where hope finds refuge; the snippets of time when we are taught to feel again. In choosing to champion mystery, practitioners of the imagination do more than simply entertain and create illusion. The stakes for the men and women of a thousand hands are much higher — they are the protection of our humanity and the safeguarding of a world to come.

For tickets and showtimes, please visit geffenplayhouse.org/invisible-tango or call our Box Office at 310.208.5454 (open daily, 7:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m.).

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