As we join the February whirlwind of NYFW, Valentines, and snow, I come to you with a recommendation: be surprised by what you love. Cozy and comfortable are only criteria for a preferable sweater. On Valentine’s Day I went to “Sleep No More” in New York City. Perhaps you have seen the “Gossip Girl” episode where Blaire, Serena, Chuck Bass, and our other favorites of the cast, put on masks and enter into the world of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” reimagined by immersive theatre company “Punch Drunk.” “Sleep No More” happens every night at the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea. Around the corner from the Comme des Garçons store, you will see a winding line of hand-holding couples waiting to enter. Inside you will be handed a playing card, which separates you from whomever you go to the show with. The card recalls royalty, chance, and now, one of the hottest tickets in the city. “Sleep No More” is never advertised. It is only known by word of mouth and the many websites and blogs dedicated to mapping the maze of the McKittrick and detailing the varying experiences of the show’s masked inhabitants.
This was my first time seeing “Sleep No More,” and I was quite literally breathless at the end of the 3 hour experience. Although separating you from others (whether friends or lovers) the show seems perfect for Valentine’s Day. You walk and run through the hotel, following the different cast members who happen to cross your path. The show is sexy. Shakespeare has been translated into modern dance and played in a dark wonderfully elaborate set of rooms and halls, some scenes in full nude, most however with the cast in elegant evening wear. As I write this, I can see that I still have some blood smeared on my neck and cheek: a memento of Macbeth’s touch as he kissed me and danced away into the bright strobes of another scene, leaving me to wander aimlessly after into the deafening music and dancing hands that grabbed me and pulled me from room to room.
After spending a number of hours watching “Sleep No More,” I realize how I was both an interactive player and a spectator. It was at this point, covered in blood and thinking about the brutality of love that ensnares both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, that I was reminded of The Great Gatsby. I was, as narrator Nick comments in The Great Gatsby, “within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” “Sleep No More,” like The Great Gatsby, presents love in all its tantalizing ambiguity and sensual fervency. Perhaps the way we all want to feel is how Nick describes Daisy,
“Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that was hard to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered, ‘Listen,’ a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.”
Nick is enraptured by Daisy’s allure. He expresses how we lonely Valentines would like to be described as we dig into our yummy boxes of chocolate. Although Nick’s words tempt us to play with other’s emotions and succumb to the flirtations of Valentine’s, it’s better to look both “within and without”: see yourself as both lover and alone yearning for love, and see others in the same complex way. “Sleep No More” offers the opposite of comfort. It is intended to make you uncomfortable– an experience that I strain to explain how much I loved.
New York City, Macbeth’s temptation to take the crown, and Fitzgerald’s words describing Daisy or Gatsby’s gaze, all illustrate different aspects of love: excitement, ambition, and allure. So these pictures show me at the window of the Standard Hotel looking out in a simple shirt. The shirt I am wearing is comfortable and a cozy contrast to the uncomfortable show that can quite literally make you sleep no more. Have a very Happy Valentine’s Day.
My Look: Rabbit Hole white t-shirt, Ikram vintage bracelet, Calvin Klein tights, and locket