359 days ago I went to the plaza outside the Taper Forum and the Chandler Pavillion and all that and watched the opening performance of Suzan-Lori Parks 365 Plays/365 Days. I loved the plays, the performances, the direction, the unique challenges of performing on the plaza, the shepherding aspect... as classical music blasted and a man told me he loved me (part of the 3rd Constant-- 'the tasks') ... and I loved standing outside the Disney Hall for the last of that week's plays and being in awe of not only the theater aspect but the COMMUNITY aspect. All of us were sharing this very simple experience of watching a piece of theater, but outside, in the 'cold,' ... amidst the unusual backdrop of downtown Los Angeles. Together. And then the little party at REDCAT with food and drinks and many of my favorite LA artists in one place. The plays went on all year and I felt pretty involved throughout. Seeing shows, one on the Pier in Santa Monica, directing shows in a gallery space/sidewalk downtown (NestArts.org), performing in shows (Son of Semele Ensemble, Cornerstone Theater), and generally feeling enthused by the uniting cause.
Last night the 'year' went out with a bang. We were back downtown, this time at California Plaza's WaterCourt and Nancy Keystone directing for the Center Theater Group. Suzan-Lori was there. Many of the participating theaters were there. And most importantly, MANY MANY people who do not tend to go see a lot of theater were there. And they looked amazed and inspired and tickled to me.
One woman, Galeen Roe, went to see every week's show in LA. And she was there. And she happens to work on the 35th floor of the office building that looks over the Plaza. And Suzan-Lori happened to write her a play, which she read, beautifully, ... and because it is a 'forever' play, that lives on past the performance or 'those' 365 days... it lives on when Galeen looks out the window of her work and down onto the Plaza and remembers the magic of last night, or when any of us remember some bit of magic perhaps... I would like to share it here.
The Rage Against Galeen
(a forever play for Galeen Roe, who has seen every production of 365inLA)
(THE RAGE creeps along the stage. A bundle of folks working their surly energy. Bad vibes. Dashed hopes. Stolen elections. Funding cuts to the arts, funding cuts to the poor, funding cuts to the public schools. Too much traffic on the 405. The smog. The plastic people. The Plastic Garbage Patch two times the size of Texas and sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Another glacier that just melted away. The Industry. The Man. The Co-Opted Brother. Your last nerve worked right down to the bone. No rain. Too much rain. The fires. That helpless "Yeah, I yell at the television when I watch the tv news." That helpless-anger-rage. And then, there's that war that makes you wanna holler. Holler! Yeah, all that rage, all that angry rage creeps along the stage, certain of its power.
Then, GALEEN enters. In real life, she's blonde-blue-eyed and pixie-petitie, but when you do the show, she can be as you like. Tall or tiny, she or he, human or other being, singular or a multitude, blonde, or black or brown, feel free with the casting. Feel free, feel free.
And the Rage, certain of its power, approaches Galeen. And Galeen, quite simply, shows up. Maybe she does a series of elaborate hand gestures (Elaborate Hand Gestures!) But hand gestures are not necessary. Yes Galeen shows up And her heaven-sent presence stops the Rage in its tracks.
And Galeen continues to show up: in a multitude of different ways. At a multitude of different times. In all venues, in all seasons, through all weathers. In Valencia even!
Galeen's presence, her audience, bears weight And witness: as the Rage transforms itself into something beautiful and powerful and good.
Actions like hers create the world Peace
Actions like hers create the theatre Piece
And all the world remains/
I hope it is merely the beginning of the middle ... the juicy thick of it // ;-)