I love theatre. I mean...I love theatre.
I've tried to describe how and why I love theatre but it seems sort of impossible. Part of it is because of the emotions and how theatre reflects life. I've always loved stories...in books, the stories my grandparents shared, tales of courage and love...theatre does something that movies can't...the glass barrier is removed and you are fully able to connect with the characters and their stories. And good theatre, when it is over, leaves you feeling something like Dorothy back in Kansas or Alice returned from Oz. Happy to be home, but wistful...wishing to be back, just for a little while.
I realize this makes no sense to some of you.
That's okay. I get it. I don't understand golf, NASCAR, or decaf coffee.
For those of you who don't get it, just trust me. For those of you who do, can I get an "amen"? There are shows that stay with you for days afterward. Sometimes it's because you can't get the songs out of your head (I don't recommend singing any song from Caberet at work...especially if you happen to work in a Christian missions organization), . Sometimes the character. Sometimes...just...everything.
Yesterday, Embree and I went to see "Every Tongue Confess" at Horizon Theatre. You think after several weeks of working as House Managment Intern and seeing the audiences come out, overhearing the music, etc I would have had a better idea of what I was about to see. But I didn't. I knew some of the songs by heart, the premise of the stories, the actors (I'm absolutely in love with Minka Wiltz) and I'd heard the audience's reaction...and still underestimated the show.
People! Every emotion...and I mean every emotion is wrecked during this show-you laugh, cry, feel horrified, hopeless, brave, stunned, convicted...! The music is interwoven so well it's not like most musicals where you think "oh now we have a dance number" but it continues the dialogue. The play itself is hard to describe but the setting is a town in Alabama in 1990's and someone is burning churches, well, black churches. The characters stories are told and intertwined into a somewhat surprising ending. The writer, Marcus Gardley, uses mystical realism which is not always my thing since it can come across as cheesy but here is artistic and beautiful.
At one point, Mother Sister is preaching and myself and the two ladies sitting to my right were so caught up in the story, we thought we were in church as we murmured "humhmm" and "amen" and "that'll preach" Bree and I had to hold hands several times throughout and once or twice I caught myself not breathing.
But the thing I love even more than the power of the story it told, was the power of the truths it told. The fact that "sometimes miracles can be staring us right in the face", that gossip is as dangerous as a blade, and that "the root of prejudice is fear"
The root of prejudice is fear.
One of the most powerful moments in the show, as Elder tells his tale of the white mother and her son who come into the black church asking for a handout. The mother has been revealed an adulteress. They are in need. And the church, afraid, won't help them.
"We were afraid. And the root of prejudice is fear. So we offered them salvation instead. Said it was the Christian thing to do." And then they sent them on their way.
I think I owe Marcus Gardley an apology. When I read he was from California, I scoffed at the idea he could possibly understand or write about Southern life/issues with a deep understanding. I was wrong.
I'm also really excited about the next show coming up in September at Horizon Theatre...a play written especially for Horizon Theatre and inspired by the refugee community in Clarkston, GA. Check out the details on their website: http://www.horizontheatre.com/show-thirdcountry.htm. This will be especially interesting to all my advocate friends...and for the record, I've already told the Co-Artistic Director, Jeff, that we'd all be coming! Bring money for the cookies!!!