Discovering and rediscovering self in the BLF Theater Program

18 Oct

“The true theater, because it moves and makes use of living instruments, continues to stir up shadows where life has never ceased to grope its way.” ~ ANTONIN ARTAUD, preface, The Theater and Its Double

I don’t believe any single thought or comment can completely illustrate what theater is all about, specifically this year’s BolderLife Theater Program. However, I do think the second half of the statement above does speak to a very real and powerful aspect of the BLF Theater Program, “continues to stir up shadows where life has never ceased to grope its way.”

True to our mission of exploring the conflicts in life through thought-provoking and engaging theater, and connecting in the most human way possible, this year’s selection of original plays do that, and more.

During the Friday evening presentation of the Festival’s eight plays, the audience met characters facing the dilemmas, difficulties and delicacies of life; while embracing the super heroes they are and have always been; and standing in the gap during times of triumph and tragedy not only for themselves, but for those they care about and those they don’t even know.

There is the woman (played by Tresha Faris) whose recollection of growing up in an abusive home  is so captivatingly illustrative you can visualize the setting, empathize with the pain she encountered, feel her cultivating and embracing her fortitude and inner peace, and witness her standing tall.

You’ll encounter two emerging super heroes who find this power in themselves and one another amongst the everyday responsibilities we all share.

“What if evil strikes and I’m sitting here with a mouthful of tangy apricot filling,” exclaims the character of Leonard (played by Joe Illingworth), in response to his neighbor’s offer to take time out of his super-hero day to enjoy an apricot Danish pastry.

As Leonard’s neighbor (played by Erica Young) spends more time with him, she begins to warm to the idea, albeit with great trepidation, of being her own super hero; again, which is someone she’s always been.

“I don’t know what my (super) powers are, but I’m brave, strong and invincible,” she declares.

You’ll witness Shirley’s (played by Maru Garcia) battle against the “furry bastard” squirrels that are ravaging her garden and decimating her crop of heirloom tomatoes. The scenes prompt serious laughter, the kind of deep and robust belly-aching laughter that you’ll remember, and tell your friends about. And in the course of the performance, you and Shirley’s daughter (played by Nikki Cimino), discover why Shirley’s seemingly absurd battle is so important.

These characters, and so many more, along with the stories in this year’s Theater Program are unquestionably reflections of many of us, or people we know, at various times in life. To say they resonate with us seems to lack the impactful and intimate experience involved in witnessing these plays. But, I think a great way to describe what the Theater Program does, is to cite the sentiments shared by our opening gala featured speaker Ash Beckham, in regards to the BolderLife Festival. “It stretched me and hugged me at the same time,” she said.

As we learned/experienced through these plays, the time to do something to stretch your mind, spirit and being, while also feeling the embrace of inclusion and empowerment, is today.

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