Friday, April 17, 2015

Theater Review: Blues for an Alabama Sky

FullSizeRenderLast night, my husband and I enjoyed  dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Afterwards, we headed to Midtown for a show at my favorite theater. The play, Blues for an Alabama Skyfirst debuted on stage in Atlanta 20 years ago. Congratulations to the playwright Pearl Cleage on the anniversary!
I’ve been waiting for this play since I saw the announcement for it last year. I even bought the play from Amazon.com with plans to read it before I saw the show. Unfortunately, the reading it before the show part didn’t happen (nope, not even with a year to get it done), but oh well. 
It was quite cool to watch the piece come alive on stage. The cast was small – six members, with one who made only two brief (yet notable) appearances. But I loved it! Fewer characters just made it so easy for me to get swallowed up in their thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions. Each character brought his/her own depth to the stage, and it was beautiful. For two hours and some change I was a resident of Harlem, New York in the summer of 1930. A time when the Harlem Renaissance was interrupted by the perils of the Great Depression. 
 
After the show, a modest group of theater enthusiasts, students and fans gathered to hear Cleage talk about the play and other aspects of her career. Oh how I love to hear an artist “talk shop.” To be a part of the conversation in person is an even bigger treat.  Think buttercream frosting on your favorite, family recipe dessert. Sweet, right?
Every dreaming bone in my body began to twitch and tingle as my heart beat to the rhythm of the conversation. Questions and comments from those gathered showed just how successfully Cleage’s work had drawn in the audience. I didn’t ask any questions. I guess I was just lost in the listening.
Believe it or not, we didn’t decide to attend last night’s show until earlier the same day. We certainly couldn’t have planned the evening any better, though.
So, if you’re in Atlanta or plan to visit between now and Mother’s Day, consider adding Blues for an Alabama Sky to your list of things to do. Click here for backstory and an interesting interview with Pearl Cleage.
Do you enjoy the theater? What was the last stage play you saw and how was it?
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Monday, January 12, 2015

5 things about the movie Top Five that didn’t make me nauseous

This weekend my husband and I went to see the movie ‘Top Five’ - a comedy starring Chris Rock that hit theaters two weeks before Christmas. If asked to describe it in one word, I’d probably just say, “Yuck.”

I’m not a big Chris Rock fan. From the previews (and past experience), I guessed his brand of comedy would be too much for my ears. I was right.

My husband, on the other hand, thought the movie would be a bit more tame than it was. I knew better. As we exited the theater, I said, “If Jesus had returned while I was in that theater I would’ve pulled an ‘Adam.’”

Lord, this man you gave me.”

We laughed, but he knows he owes me big for that one.

Like I said earlier, the language alone was just way too much for my taste. I felt the need to scrub my ears when it was over.

The next morning I thought, “I gave away two hours of my life in that theater. There has to be something about it that wasn’t so bad. After some thought, my mind eked out these five things about the movie that didn’t totally make me sick:

  1. Hearing everyone’s “top five” was probably the coolest part of the movie. Top five what, you ask. Unfortunately, I’m not into spoilers so I can’t tell you that.
  2. The unexpected twist with the character “James Nielson.” Check the full cast list and you’ll notice this character isn’t listed. That’s because he is, but isn’t, an actual character in the movie. Confusing? Sorry. Although I didn’t like the movie, still not into spoilers. Sadly, this means you’ll have to actually watch the movie to see the twist.
  3. The unexpected guest appearance by comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld. Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming. Yet, I walked away almost disturbed that he was in the film. Go figure.
  4. Rock’s costar (Rosario Dawson) in the movie was a journalist. I always like to watch journalists work – real life or fiction.
  5. To my surprise, the movie had a decent storyline. Too bad you can’t strip away the overbearing profanity and at least one highly vulgar scene. The movie may have been a DVD I’d buy to watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

I’m not perfect by any stretch of even the most creative imagination. I get tickled just thinking about it. Suffice it to say, I’ve absorbed my share of questionable content. With mounds of content thrown at us daily, we almost can’t help it. But some things really do make me say, “Whoa! Now that was a boatload of unnecessary junk to which I just subjected myself.”

We do it with food. And we do it with what we like to call “entertainment.” Yet, for some reason we feel because it’s labeled “entertainment it’s ok. But is it? Consistently inhaling bad food causes all manner of sickness and disease in our physical bodies. So it makes sense that to consistently take in all manner of foolishness in the name of “entertainment” will cause disease in our emotional and spiritual bodies?

It’s certainly something to think about, isn’t it?

P.S. I haven’t been written since October. So Mr. Nixon suggested I should really thank him for taking me to see that crazy movie and getting my creative juices flowing again. *insert blank stare here* Ok, honey. Thank you. BTW, we actually set out to go so The Imitation Game, but it was sold out.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Week 35: DVAM: Final thoughts…

Last week, I planned to continue my series for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. However, I consciously decided not to write. In case you didn’t notice from the last two posts, domestic violence is a pretty weighty subject. I thought a break might be a good idea and, well, if you didn’t need one, I sure did.

You see the subject of domestic violence isn’t just something I’ve read about. Statistics show that one in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. Many years ago I became that one and spent about seven years in and out of a relationship that went quite a few steps beyond “unhealthy.”

He was a handsome, charming man but with an emotionally volatile past and an emerging darker side. Throughout the relationship I experienced frequent physical intimidation and intense verbal and emotional abuse. Although the young man I dated at the time never struck me, he often leveraged his size and strength to pin me against walls or down on a bed or to hold my face in place while shouting obscenities in it. His verbal assaults were toxic, and the effects lasted for many years.

Over time, the level of abuse gradually escalated to personal property. Clothes were ripped; my car was vandalized and other personal property destroyed. I lied to family and friends out of shame, embarrassment and fear. I remained in the relationship for so long out of a mixed sense of guilt, fear and misplaced obligation. By the end of it all, I’d added more than 50 pounds to my physical frame and the weight of depression to my emotional state that could easily have buried me.

Believe it or not, it was years on the other side of the relationship before I even realized I’d survived a domestic violence situation. Today, when I reflect on that season of my life it appears quite surreal. As a young woman, my dream of a fairytale romance didn’t include incessant name calling, embarrassment, verbal battery and intimidation.

Earlier this month, I attended a presentation on domestic violence. The presentation was full of statistics and sprinkled with audio files – actual phone calls, voice mail messages and in-person conversations from abusers in intimate partner relationships. In hindsight, I’m not sure I was ready for the hour and a half that lay before me as some of the descriptions and conversations I heard transported me back to my young, naïve co-ed self. I left the presentation with a heavy heart and a strong determination to share on this topic.

I realize one blog post isn’t nearly enough real estate to cover a story that spanned seven years. Trust me, my reflection and commentary on that experience could easily fill many pages. Still, I felt compelled to share this snippet from my life to reiterate this point:

No one ever expects to be a victim of domestic violence. Yet anyone can be.

And just like no one expects to be a victim, I doubt anyone wants to grow up to be an abuser. I’m thankful that, in my situation, two lives were spared from what could have had a variety of far worse outcomes. As I close this series, I encourage us to examine our own relationships and make sure we’re making healthy choices, not only in intimate partner (or romantic) relationships, but in friendships, as well.  And let us continue to pray for victims, witnesses and perpetrators in domestic violence situations around the world.

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