Theater & Change

9mm-America-204x300“At the point of deterioration which our sensibility has reached, it is certain that we need above all a theater that wakes us up: nerves and heart.”

The Theatre and Its Double by Antonin Artaud as  translated by Mary Caroline Richards

That’s exactly what I experienced this weekend. Theatre that stripped me. Theatre that made me simultaneously reflect and react then manifest through tears. Theatre that woke up my whole being.

I knew I was in for an experience when my friend, Kate Powers, extended an invitation to see her production of Our Town. Why? Her cast are inmates of Sing Sing and is produced by Rehabilitation Through the Arts (click here for Kate’s post). I had heard of this organization through my sister-in-law, Dawn Slegona McDonald, who is a teaching artist. The cast gave a riveting, honest, emotional performance. Everyone was in tears at the end of the show.  The message of wasting time was not lost on anyone of us. The freedom to live life to the fullest and not squander time was much to absorb as the inmates thanked us for spending our Friday with them, then changed out of their costumes into their prison garb, waved to us and returned to their cells.

Then fast forward to last night. I watched the brave, poignant emotional performances of 11 girls (ages 16-22) in 9MM America by Girl Be Heard for Planet Connectivity. These young women told the story of gun violence in our country. Our country’s new addiction. The victims of firearms. The law that protects the weapons. The proud owners of ammunition.  They told these stories through dance, song, spoken word, monologues. 26 scenes in 75 minutes. Not a dry eye in the theatre. How can there be when these are true stories of growing up in the inner city, losing a child to the gun, the cutting of after school programs and the increase of funding to gun manufacturers. Interesting juxtaposition for me as I thought about the inmates of Sing Sing. These girls are making another choice. They are breaking the cycle of falling victim to their surroundings.

Change happens a step at a time.  Change happens by making a choice. Change happens with you.

June 2013 –Planet Connections Theatre Festivity 
World Premiere of 9mm America
Robert Moss Theatre at 440 Lafayette Street
Tuesday 6/4 at 8:00pm, Friday 6/7/13 at 4:30pm, Sunday 6/9 at 5:00pm, Wednesday 6/19 at 8:00pm
9mm America explores America’s culture of violence as it affects ten young women. A documentary theatre piece devised from direct experience with gangs on the streets of East New York to the shooting death of a sibling in Boston, 9mm America is a call to action to demand an end to gun violence.

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