A Month in Review
By Ethan Norman
As it turns out, Grace Hamer still has a thing for Ronnie DeVoe. We also know precisely how Terri Lloyd prefers her burger, and that Dottie Justice-Spilman hung up on Dolly Parton, twice. Some of these things we learned because they told us, some by observation (standing next to them at the grill). It was more than a “treat,” or “successful event” when we got together around the fire at the Brown farm with potluck food and shared stories last Saturday night. Our stories bind us together.& We know each other by our stories told, and stories heard. We live out stories beside one another. The space between us, be it age or culture, shrinks with every story we learn or offer. To be known is perhaps the most underrated thing in pop culture today.
The world around us argues that we are better off being an island. To be cut off from attachments, void of responsibilities to others, safe from unpredictable interactions, “that’s the way to be happy.” We hear it in songs, business plans, and “inspirational” speeches on how to create a protected, structured life that isn’t messy. But we say “rubbish!” We have experienced the unshakeable unity and chemistry of a cast that started out as strangers, trying to figure out how to say their lines. We look at Jesus, and the people he would hang out with, and what they did together, and we know that it was an example to follow. Being known means being understood, and understanding.
Take 9/11, for example. It seems that pop-culture’s way of dealing with it is to remember it, and post something on social media about it, but don’t have interpersonal conversations about it. The WordPlayers decided that was not the healthiest outlet for tragedy, and built an evening of Playback Theatre around the subject: to come together and share stories from different perspectives; to tell them and retell them. In the end there is more healing, more understanding, and more resolution when we do this.
September was a busy month, and it will no doubt get busier. We came together for fellowship, for Playback, and rehearsals started for the long awaited See Rock City, our Fall mainstage show. Casting for this, bookings for that. In the midst of it, while government plays “he said, she said,” and powerful rocket men boast threats, while the world still lies and says that individualism is the way to go, we prepare an arsenal of stories to fight against the very principalities that segregate neighbors, isolate students, and keep the rich and poor from talking to one another. Stories that show what love really looks like, and tell how we might grab hold of it, messy as it is. So, laugh if you want, but it’s worth considering that a one-act touring show and a hotdog can profoundly serve the world, if served with stories, given and received.