A virtual Fringe Festival. Let that sink in. I knew “Hive Mind” was going to be different than anything I had watched before. With my laptop propped on a stool, a glass of wine and eight mint Oreos (discipline, right?), I was prepared for this new experience.
The opening scene begins with a person walking a trail in a park with a lot of disregard for it. This person throws a water bottle on the ground, kicks over a garbage and clearly has neglect for the life around them. Locating an old school hopscotch on the ground, the person decides to play. Landing on the number, it sends the person spiraling down into the beehive.
The scene changes showing the lives of four bees, under the leadership of the Queen Bee. There is chaos among the bees, which means a lot of buzzing. The four main bees include a newly developed drone, a forager and a worker. All are waiting for guidance and leadership from the Queen Bee, but there isn’t any. The Queen Bee is complaining that something is wrong, and no one is there to help her, feed her, fetch her drinks. I sat and wondered, what could be wrong? Why has the normal routine of the bees been interrupted? And then it hit me. The chaos of the bees, and their confusion, felt too familiar to me. The bees are us during this quarantine.
The young, freshly developed bee has so many questions that have no answers. Each question is met with someone saying to act normal, but also that going outside could mean death. The young one doesn’t know how to be a bee or even what a flower is. I believe this bee represents the children going through this pandemic. Many don’t understand what is happening. Parents are trying to shield their children, not telling them the whole story. So children have to come up with their own assumptions. Parents: talk to your kids.
Next up is the drone bee. It feels no sense of purpose and just sits around all day, waiting. Hoping that work will come. It’s receiving benefits but wants to be and feel useful. Just like those who have been laid off and forced to file unemployment during this time. Yes, they can receive compensation, but there is something to say for being able to work for your money. The loss of a job can leave some without hope.
The forager, unlike the first two, has hope and is a born leader. This bee has a plan to help the others survive. It’s like those who are a part of organizations providing resources to the people who have been most affected. Their plans may not be perfect, but they are out doing what they can to help others.
Last is the worker bee. This bee takes care of everyone and everything, especially the larvae, with little to no recognition. Without this bee, many in the hive would not be able to function. I believe this bee represents the essential workers. The grocery store clerks, the doctors, the nurses, the social workers, the teachers. The ones who we would not be able to function without, but we often take for granted. Thank you to our essential workers during this pandemic.
During this time, real leadership is not coming from the Queen Bee. She is delusional without her food and drink being brought to her. She can’t believe she has to do these things for herself without the help of others. Unfortunately, this bee represented more than just one person for me. But I will let the viewers of this meticulous production decide who this person could be in their own world.
While the Queen Bee is muddled, she is visited by another character that changes her perspective and outlook on her misuse of leadership. The Queen faces a decision: continue with her blind leadership or let someone new take on the challenge and try to tame the chaos.
The production ends with a message to “Save the Bees.” I take this as a sign that we need to save each other and look out for one another during this time. Show compassion, love and respect to others. We all are affected differently. Hope comes in many different forms. You could be someone’s hope without even knowing it.
I commend Fringe veterans Performance Gallery and Solasta Theatre Lab for filming this production entirely from their homes and yards. Everyone really put their own original twist into it especially with the costumes. I actually enjoyed all the buzzing, even though it sounded like weed-whackers.
Visit artswave.org/fringe for a full list of this year’s Cincy Fringe Festival productions!
Marissa Staples is a Cincinnati published author and writer for “The Voice of Black Cincinnati.” She developed her love of arts from her mother, Kandi. Being a native of Cincinnati, she loves to travel. If she is not traveling, you can find her reading, writing, volunteering or drinking wine. Wine always brings smiles, friends and creative dialogue.