Saturday, October 2, 2010
Show #51 "Under the Circumstances" at Tacoma Little Theatre
Nowadays I get pretty excited about the simple phrase "A World Premier." It means, something brand new. Something never done before. Something original.
When I see those words in regard to a theatrical production, it gets my blood pumping. You see, Randy and I also are in the process of collaborating with local playwrights to create new stories for the stage. Our community has loads of talent that are, for the most part, undiscovered. We want to help remedy that. Fortunately, so does Tacoma Little Theatre.
"Under the Circumstances" is a collaboration between TLT, the Northwest Playwright Alliance and Tacoma playwright C. Rosalind Bell. It is a deeply moving and relevant story about friendship, race, culture and the power of words.
Two brave actresses (Julie Novak Weinberger and LaNita Hudson) play writers who carry on a long-distance friendship between New Orleans and Tacoma. Yes! Tacoma!
Both women share their lives, their work and their writing with the other. Their differences in age, religion and race never stand in the way of great sistership. That is, until one of them writes a novel that, unintentionally, wounds the other.
This is a story about the power of our speech. It is also an honest, but artfully worded discussion around the issue of race. Rosalind Bell's poetic script invited us to think, feel and remember alongside these two remarkable women. We listened with rapt attention as they shared their innermost thoughts with the audience; things they, tragically, couldn't seem to share with one another.
But this is not the first discussion on race that I engaged in this past week. The evening before my son Tim and I attended a "Conversations on Race" gathering at our church, Trinity Presbyterian. This is part of an on-going conversation between four churches in the Tacoma/Hilltop neighborhood, attended by Christians of different races and denominations.
I praise God for meetings such as these. What a marvelous way to begin understanding and enjoying one another: to have a open conversation coupled with good food, fellowship and prayer.
But, there is also another way: theater. An engaging but powerful story brought to life by two actors can also spark conversation. And last evening at Tacoma Little Theatre, it did just that.
We held a post-play discussion in the auditorium. We continued the discussion out in the lobby. And several of us (including the playwright and one of the actors) took our discussion to a local restaurant which continued well into the night.
Imagine that, a play that started at 7:30pm that gave birth to an honest (but bridge-building) conversation that lasted until after midnight.
That is one powerful play. Don't miss it. It runs at TLT through Oct. 10. But, I suspect the conversation will run long past that.
Graphics courtesy of Tacoma Little Theatre