WHY: This is an amazing show! The music, the talent, the script make this one of the shows you don’t want to miss at the fringe this year!
Written by Terri Weiss, directed and choreographed by John Coppola, composed by Geraldo Herrera Benavides with lyrics by Bill Berry this musical brings the challenges of a young girl coping with loss who though music finds harmony and family. This uplifting musical brings the audience to their feet as they celebrate the ability of the human spirit to recover from tragedy. This is a show for the whole family.
Of course, we know that art matters. Especially – and mostly – those of us who work within it.
Still, it’s difficult to conceive of why I should bust my butt to get people to see a play while Watertown is locked down.
Short-term, all I need to remember are the happy faces of kids who think going to the theatre is fun, and parents relieved to find a place that welcomes families. Not only do they not have to find a babysitter, they can enjoy an experience together.
So that helps. It really does.
Even then, my conflicts usually come to the surface because there has to be something else – bigger, better, that reaches more people – there has to be some faster way to spend my time to create a better world. Right?
Maybe there is. Maybe there isn’t. Maybe I’m in the exact right place to introduce more people to more stories that create empathy in their lives. Marketing has such a bad connotation to it, when in fact I should be called an Audience Ambassador. My job(s) is to find a way to bridge the vast gap between quality family programming and the elusive where the parents are.
(It’s not really so elusive. We know where they are: in schools, in parks, at work, visiting ill family members, volunteering at their school fund-raisers, writing blogs to tell their own stories.)
Last Friday, I had to go to 24th ST Theatre. I had two guests taking photographs of the guest clown rehearsing his performance. As the staff transitioned from a performance space to an arts education/after school space, I worked in the lobby. There something happened which is not unique to this space, but which always manages to get me.
A young kid – 9-11 years-old at the most – saw my MSL (Mars Science Laboratory) sticker on my laptop and asked me about space.
So we talked about it. We talked about robots on Mars and what that teaches us about our own world. We talked about what lifemeans, and why alien life forms may not be anywhere close to human form. Maybe they are. We don’t know yet, and we could find more information in his lifetime.
Then he had to go to After Cool, where the main parts of drama they teach include: expression, public speaking, story-telling and empathy.
Part of my job is to then tell their great stories from class to increase the program’s exposure and maybe funding down the line.
Back after the Newtown shootings, I also had a reason I hadto go to work that day. It turned out to save me. I had to go, even though all I wanted to was crawl into my cave and cuddle with my dog.
We had a Parents Night for After Cool. This being my first time, I had no idea what to expect. Students of all ages packed their parents into our space and showed them vignettes of their greatest fears and their greatest hopes.
The best part: their parents heard them.
Back to last week.
It is incredibly difficult to simultaneously look at to-do list and live stream of a bombing close to where a high school boyfriend told you he loved you. It is difficult to call your parents and want to know they’re okay, want to just hear their voices as you look at this horror, and they need to discuss something else entirely with you.
How can you bug me about calling my grandfather *again* and not being excited enough about good news form the family when THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?
That is what I want to scream.
But they don’t know that I just needed to hear their voices over the police scanners and the twitter rumors.
They don’t know that because I don’t tell them.
And what matters to them when they hear from me is to figure out how to ask me to make two phone calls (even when they know I will get mad at the messenger).
And when all I want to do is figure out how to make a better world, I can actually start with my own family.
2 phone calls.
Maybe adults could use a Parents Night just as often as kids lucky enough to be in an after school program.
If I had to tell my parents my greatest fears:
That Dad returned to the Marathon because he missed quality time with his girls and as a result, got caught in the bombings.
My greatest wish:
That I could have the life I love without being 3,000 miles away from the folks who helped me create it.
Empathy has to start somewhere, often closer to home.
Maybe I should start with why I had time to write this blog post but not enough time to make two phone calls.
I never had a problem telling stories, even to a fault.
In Kindergarten, my favorite tall tale was that my teacher had married me to both cutie-pie Sean and red-headed Adam in one day. I remember how impressed I was with myself that my mother and aunt believed my story and only questioned the point that Ms. Jean had the power to become a priest.
In 1st grade, a dollar bill was found in the doorway between the classrooms. No one claimed it, so I saw an opportunity for more chocolate and said it was mine. Older sister Kelly was suspicious, however, and upon further examination I admitted it was just a wish. Sister Jeanne Marie hit me with her ruler and my sister labeled a tattle-tail. Although her actions brought out the truth, she still had to wear cat ears and tails for a day so the whole school knew she had tattled. (Logic was never the nuns’ strong point.)
I gave up a scholarship to the local Catholic HS for a fresh start a few cities away. From the very beginning there, I crafted my own history, my own mythology, carefully told and secretive so my sister, who attended the same school, would not have the ability to quash statements that I thought made me more interesting. For the most part, it worked, but a few major whoppers came back and whacked me in the ass (another story for another time).
Moving from Boston to New York for college allowed an even wider bearth for creating my past just how I liked it.Some stories I’d heard from others became my own. I tested reactions from various people and adjusted what they learned about me for maximum impact. I aimed for mysterious, irreverent, intelligent, rebellious, sexy and not someone that everyone should like.
Fast forward a few years and I move cross country from New York to Los Angeles in 2002 – a massive change for a lifetime public transport gal who had gotten her license mere days before the road trip. Moving with a (then) boyfriend means your past and present travel with you, so how did this upheaval affect my storytelling?
I saw my stories in sharp relief to my present and hopes for my future. This mostly fresh start – amplified by the eventual break-up with the boyfriend – renewed the feeling that stories are vibrant. Stories are life. Literally moving out of my comfort zones meant my career and personal path is literally up to me. I was no longer beholden to perceptions anyone had, including my own to myself.
Visiting the east coast progressively got harder for me. I fell back into the old stories, the past, the rhythms of family members who I had already outgrown. I saw family and friends’ prejudices and (mostly wasted) potentials much more clearly, then applied the same criticism to myself:
In what areas of my life did I experience growth and what nasty, sticky preconceptions still lingered?