Yeah, the fridge is full (thank you Thanksgiving), but I’ve still got leftovers from This Wide Night. Watching those two women on the stage, night after night, trying to make sense of their world has me more sensitive lately. I heard a report on NPR the other day where a dancer in India was teaching men traditional dances and changing lives. Another one where a former felon couldn’t find a job so he created his own company, and is hiring other former prisoners…giving them a second chance.
It made me think about how much of a chance we give people when they make a mistake…about anything. Sure, maybe we need to be careful, but maybe we can accept people, be a little more generous with our expectations. ‘Tis the season, after all.
We’ve got a stack of them. Plays about drug companies, Strindberg, Faulkner…name it, we’ve got them. And we’re excited about reading them. Tonight was the first night and we’re really getting juiced. There’s something about picking up a new-to-you play, reading it, really seeing it and wanting others to share your vision. We sit around the table with popcorn balls, Billy Goat chips, cheese and crackers, and a slice of pumpkin bread (or two) and start the ball rolling.
It’s really cool when other people agree with you (that’s optimal, right?), but it’s also cool when you’re the one in the room making the pitch…telling people why this is the one that needs to stay on the list.
We’ve got a couple that are just going to sit there for a while…sometimes it’s just not the right time for something. We need to wait…let it cook…let it be there for a while until this is the year for it. We believe in a shared passion…go ahead, talk me into it…I’m ready.
If you read the description of This Wide Night, you would think there are only two characters in the play. Lorraine and Marie are big characters who inhabit the stage at West End Players Guild (one more weekend for those of you who haven’t seen it yet – RUN to get tickets…it’s that good…but I digress). They aren’t alone, and the people you don’t see are huge…the elephants in the room. One of them is Ben…Lorraine’s son. You never see him, and you only hear his actual words at one point in the play, but he’s such a powerful presence. And he’s someone different to each of us who’s working on the play. We had a discussion about what kind of person he is, and our takes on him were as far apart as if we’d actually met him somewhere and got together to talk about him. Is he cold, distant, misunderstood…what are the reasons for the choices he makes, and are they defensible in the context of who we know his mother to be?
Then there’s Marie’s boyfriend. We don’t meet him either – but independently Sean and Rachal had already decided on his name…and it was the same name. Is she staying with him (and from the way she describes him you wonder why anyone would), or is she going to break free? What does he/will he do if she does indeed walk away from him.
We also hear about the people who are supposed to be supporting and helping these two women. It has made me think for weeks now, what exactly is helpful to someone just coming out of prison. What does she want (other than winning the lottery, which we all want)? Does a person really “pay her debt to society,” even after the sentence is fulfilled? Do we allow them to truly move on, create a life? These are the kinds of elephants that won’t be leaving, even after we take the walls of the bedsit down.