...mostly because it's such a small world and one negative comment can easily make it back to the person you're talking about, and I'm not really into that. I've had to spend years working on my ability to speak respectfully of shows I hate, whether its because I'm giving an usher speech, or because someone close to me was involved, or because I need people to come to it so I can keep my job. (Don't get me started on my Bob Saget days...) Now, off the job and in un-influential circles however, you may may find me ranting with vehemence and sometimes, tears. I recently saw a show that was so insulting to my intelligence that I walked out after 40 minutes, and kept my eyes closed for 30 of those minutes...But anyway, my modus operandi with theatre tends to be internet silence rather than critique. It's just too small a world.
But I recently got an email from my friend Garth, about a show he'd just seen. I was so touched by his instinct to tell me about it, not to mention my wish that I could beam back to NY to see it, that I thought I'd repost it here. So, here's a little theatre blog- by proxy.
Email: I wanted to tell you about a show I saw that I think you would really have loved. It was called "The Success of Failure (Or the Failure of Success)" by Cynthia Hopkins, the third installment of the Accidental Nostalgia trilogy. Maybe you saw one of the first two installments of the trilogy at St. Ann's Warehouse when you lived here. I had seen the second one, which was okay (musically exiciting but theatrically a little thin), but this show was one of the most succesful pieces of theatre I've seen in ages. Act I: a one-woman space opera about a suicidally depressed, alcoholic space pilot who is sent on a mission to save the earth. In the end she has to destroy the earth in order to save allow a race of super-sentient beings to escape the universe, which is collapsing. Act II was Cynthia Hopkins explaining with heartwrenching honesty how her own battles with alcoholism and depression led her to make this trilogy of shows. Normally I'm not a big fan of confessional, one-person shows but she was such a completely frank, engaging performer, with something important to say, and she shared of her spirit so generously that I fell completely in love. The show also included a lot of high-tech multimedia elements, not normally something I'm a fan of in live theatre, but she used them so well, and in a manner so clearly in service of the story she was telling that it worked.
In both the space-opera act and the confessional act, Hopkins portrayed the way depression and despair feed off of stories and ideas both personal and cosmological. In the end, she didn't tie it up with a bow: we're left with the sense that she's hopeful about having found a new way of being in the world, but without a simplistic portrait of a solution or a quick fix for all her problems.
More than anything, I was left wanting keenly to be more alive, inspired to be, to do and to feel more, which is exactly what I want from theatre.
Unlike most of the blogging world, I really don't subscribe much to blogs by people I don't know. Even when I do, I end up never reading them. If it's not a friend, I tend to just not be interested.
But one non-aquaintance blog that has become a must-read for me is Tacoma Atheists. I discovered the blog through a Bennington Alum on Facebook. (She friended me but I don't think we've ever met, so it doesn't count as a buddy blog). Tacoma Atheist is a group of local atheists and non-theists who collaborate to promote community and education regarding atheist advocacy and rights.
It's a really amazing collection of people's concern, outrage and passion for freedom of thought, with particular focus on the prejudice, injustice and harm done in the name of religion. While admittedly, the site posts have as much us-them superiour snarkiness as any blog (that is the point of blogs, I think), it's refreshing, humbling and eye-opening to read from the persepctive of the evangelized instead of the evagelizers.
While my own thoughts on evangelism and mission probably align closer with the site members than those they are critiquing, I still find it hugely impacting to read about what's going on in the local and national church as written by those who are enraged by it, rather than inspired.
Most recently, Tacoma Atheists re-posted a Slog article about Mars Hill Church'sintentional movement towards Capital Hill. Reading it really made me want to show up at that bar to see how the Capital Hill community would respond to the Evangelical "relational approach" to ministry. While I have my own issues with Mars Hill Church, (and never know if I'm being a jerk or not for my constant disclaimer that Mars Hill Graduate School has nothing whatsoever to do with the church of similar name- except that we're all Christians and that's not insignificant), I think every Chrsitian can learn something from reading people's comments regarding how they feel when they're told that someone is coming to love them intetionally. How can that not sound patronizing? Will you let yourself be loved by the person you're trying to save? And if so, can you do that if you've already decided their fate for them? Will anyone's life ever be changed through agenda'd relationship?
Obviously, I think the answer is no. But it'll be an interesting experiment up there. And I'm thankful for Tacoma Atheists. Not as some Christian spy- or even as a postmodern, post-evangelical wanna-be cool by considering myself more like the atheists than megachurch people- but for the way they reflect myself and my community back to me- For a reminder that if you want to love, serve or help someone, you should never assume you know what they want, need or love. In fact, sometimes the best thing to give is your respect- which may mean leaving them alone.
Thursday was my last official night to be with Zera, the church community I've interned with for the past year.
This was also the first time I hosted dinner instead of just reaping the benefits of these amazing people who are also incredible cooks. I will miss seeing them every week, but hopefully, I will not be dissapearing entirely.
Freya was baptized this Sunday. (That's right, baptized not dedicated. We went whole hog. It was awesome). And before the service that night, I ended up having one-on-one Abby time. She needed to buy makeup for her dance recital in a few weeks, so that felt like a perfect Auntie Kj & Abby outing.
Before that, I took Abby for her first Happy Meal. Not that I in any way want to Abby to like McDonalds, but I have deep nostalgic feelings of going to McDonalds in downtown Minneapolis with Grandma Hazelton when I was Abby's age. There's something about the smell of a McDonalds cheeseburger on a Saturday morning, like makes me feel like anything is possible. Fortunatley, Abby did not love the cheeseburger but loved the playground instead. We were there for over an hour.
Freya's baptsim was was fun, meaningful, loud, playful, chaotic (with kids everywhere) and memorable. Matt and Rebecca managed to pack house-left with tons of friends. I was blessed to be joined by three of myimportantwomen. I was so thankful that I could be there and stand as sponsor for Freya, and also to have been asked to lead prayer during part of the service.
It's been such a full week emotionally, relationally, spiritually, and this isn't even all of it. But these are the things I have pictures for. Needless to say, my heart's been on overload.
It was good to be with all of you. Much Love and Gratitude, Kj
Erin Blakemore, my soulmate in all things literary since puberty, is being published!
I don't know if I could be more excited if it was me being published.
Erin has always been an author, so nothing feels more natural than that the world should know it, (and pay her for it).
Here's the publishing announcement of her book deal. Not hard to see where our hearts are aligned, yes?
Erin, I Love you and am so proud, happy, excited, anticipatory, humbled, impressed, crazy-freaking-joyeous. I cannot wait to curl up with your beautiful words about the women (fictional and actual) that have shaped us. You are a true heroine!