Thursday, September 18, 2008

church. Kind of.

     Tonight was one of those performances where we are left to wonder on stage if maybe the audience is just cardboard cut-outs; like maybe they are shooting one of those Verizon commercials in our theater during our show and so that is why every one of their faces is stone-faced and silent as the grave.  

   Or (said the tiny, terrible voice from a very bad place) maybe we just suck.  

   Nope, in an effort of self-preservation, I am going to have to go with the cardboard cut-out theory.  

   Another contributing factor to the quietness of the house has been that we haven't been selling here as well, for some reason.  When there are less people in the house, they tend to have less enthusiasm, making it harder for us to know if they really like it or not.  

   I am not sure if audiences realize this, but their presence and participation--or obvious lack thereof!--make a huge difference in a show.  If they are with us, enjoying us, feeling for us, "getting us," then we feel it and it electrifies the show; their effort is symbiotic and literally acts as a jolt of energy, giving life to our text, our movement, our song.  

  Tonight, the audience was nowhere to be heard or felt--though, I could see them, so I knew they were there.  At the very end of the show, when the lights were fading out, there was a sad silence...My friend John broke the silence by saying in a tone of disgusted disbelief quite loudly, to anyone who would hear: They're NOT even clapping!   And well, they weren't. Which is probably why we needed some uplifting, a little cool water for a dried out soul.  A time of circle-sitting connectedness, where the deep thinkers can let their thoughts go adrift and land kindly on a friendly soul.  A time where there is no judgment, but lots of helping love as people try to point out to others where they are and in the next breath where they hope to be.  

   It was time for a little church.  

  Or a shabbat, or whatever you want to call it.  Though really, it was a Thursday night and sadly none of us are Jewish.  But just like the last time, the idea was to get together, share our thoughts about our spiritual journeys, our inspiration, our faith for today and all the looming tomorrows.  And honestly, it enlarged my soul.  

   I heard many truly uplifting prayers, meditations, thoughts, and recitations.  I shared something I had written here, The Better Story and could feel myself relax and my spirit settle in as I was simply myself, sharing a part of my inner thoughts with friends.  

   It was so special, this night.  My dear friend Emily, who has been putting these shabbats together, said something so valuable to me, a gift in words that I hold so dear.  She told me that meeting me, becoming friends with me, has helped her break down the walls against Christians that she had been carrying around; that she had never met a person who was so committed to their path of faith, yet so non-judgmental towards others in the same moment.  Another sweet friend, Kevin, also echoed that sentiment, saying that he had never met a Christian like me.  

  This is not at all to brag, or say that I have the corner on something special.  Goodness knows that life is often humbling, that I stumble more than I stand and stay content with my thoughts when I should be speaking...I also have learned so much from my friends here,  and will continue to do so, I am sure.   And I thanked them--for not judging me, or calling me a prude, or allowing our differences to cause a division between us.  They give me grace, they truly do.  

  And no real special allowances for me either, Christian or not.  In fact, one friend calls just about everyone a B***CH, and he means it in a totally friendly, un-abusive way.  However, some of them have amended this for me, and now affectionately refer to me as a wholesome b***ch. Thanks for that, guys;-) 

    So tonight was a mix.  A little soul-sucking from an audience that seemed to have better things to do than appreciate some hard-working actors, let alone laugh at just one or two of their antics, and then a little church-like activity and sharing.  And I gotta say the church won out in the end; I hardly remember the soul-sucking and I am now getting to bed feeling peaceful and full of grace.  

   And it's a nice feeling to sleep on, I think.   


Mom said...

I so agree with what you say about audiences. They have a very important part to play. When I speak in church, if the people are with me, care about me, and want to hear what I have to say, I can tell immediately. It makes a big difference. If the audience is non-responsive, it's hard going.

I'm excited about what your friends said about your show of Christianity......God sent His Son to love the world not to condemn the world.

kathiek said...

Jess, I am sorry your audience was so unappreciative, but I am very thankful that your friends are not. I am glad you could have such a healing end to your evening.

Lady Leth said...

I am excited for you guys to be here in Philly--I will cheer VERY loudly and clap enthusiastically even if I am the only one.

Jessica Latshaw said...

I know you will Elizabeth, and I can't wait!!!!

Karen said...

Hey Jessica,
You don't know me but I've been reading your blog for a while now and I felt compelled to comment after reading your latest entry. I don't know what's wrong with my fellow Bostonians in the way they are (or rather aren't) reacting to your guys but I can tell you that I will be cheering my heart out when I go see the show. I'm so very excited. I don't wanna bore you too much with the "strangers" story but I used to be a dancer and I just recently decided to take it up again after a ten (yes, 10) year break. (I'm 28) Anyway, deciding to jump bak into that life has been both scary and wonderful at the same time and I'm currently a member of an off beat alternative dance company here in Boston and our first show is coming up very soon. Personally, I can't think of anything more inspirational to this trying-once-again-to-be-a-dancer than a performance of a Chorus Line. I'm a total theatre geek anyway, but having you guys here right at this time, for me, feels like a blessing. So, I can't wait to come see the show and I'll probably end up going more than once.
With great appreciation
-K :)

Jessica Latshaw said...

Karen--thanks so much for your perspective and your very interesting story! What amazing courage to go back to dancing after your break; I took a year off at one point due to injuries, and though that isn't the same amount of time as yours, I understand what a mixed bag of emotions it is to get back into class or onto the stage.

And I am sure that some of the audience was with us in spirit--it just didn't exactly feel that way:-)

I hope you enjoy the show--thanks again for your comment!

kathiek said...

Jess, when will you be in Philly with ACL?

Jessica Latshaw said...

I will be in Philly for three weeks, starting mid December thru Jan 5th!

And before that, I will be in Baltimore for the first two weeks of December...

Peaj said...

First, Emily rocks!

Second, I will cheer when I see you in Philly!

semi anonymous said...

and that is why no matter what employment you have, god always has a job for you to do also. Well done. I was for the longest time one of those people watching Christians and not liking what I saw, turned off from ever wanting to know anything about Christ. Just one person can make a profound difference without knowing it.

As far as the mute audience thing, that does suck, but I know audience members are MUCH more self conscious about clapping and expressing themselves when there's not the safety of the big crowd around them. You are still awesome.

kathiek said...

I haven't even seen this show, but I have seen you in other things. I know your dedication to your craft. I just gave you a standing ovation at my computer (really!!). Bravissima, Jessica!!

Jessica Latshaw said...

thanks for the standing-O!!!