While the country faces larger issues, Hedwig gives RVA a chance to unite
These past few weeks have been gut-wrenching. Turning on the television takes great courage . . . or insanity. From Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown to Eric Garner . . . three lives (and countless others unpublicized) needlessly extinguished at the hands of people designed to protect public safety.
In Mr. Garner’s case the whole nation saw the video depicting his murder at the hands of an officer who placed him in a banned choke hold. Garner’s last words were “I can’t breathe.” He repeated them over and over again.
These are defining moments in our collective conscience.
Sadly, these viral videos of police brutality and the protests that follow them have become one of the few nationally shared experiences we have.
Between Netflix, the internet, and endless cycles of mediocre reality TV, there are few opportunities for us to rally around something positive.
I went to see TheatreLAB and Spin, Spit & Swear’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch for the third time this past Tuesday. And while the subject matter of the play might be a stretch for some, its message and production is something truly awe inspiring, and it might be just the thing this town needs to rally around.
“[The show] resonates with audiences for a lot of reasons,” TheatreLAB’s artistic director Deejay Gray said. “But most importantly because people see themselves on that stage every night… We can all connect with Hedwig and her story; maybe you’re not a rock goddess from East Berln who had a botched sex change operation, but we are all on a quest to find ourselves – that feeling and that desire is universal.”
The experience is transforming. From Hedwig’s miserable life east of the Berlin wall, to her botched sex change operation, failed relationships, and attempt to survive, we want—no NEED—Hedwig to triumph.
This week I am also reading Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. It is the story of a troupe of actors and musicians – The Traveling Symphony - twenty years following a devastating flu pandemic. They wander in their caravan from place to place in search of survivors. They perform Shakespeare’s plays. Their motto, lifted from Star Trek: Voyager, is “Because survival is insufficient.”
Survival is insufficient for our human spirit.
We need the counter-defining moments, something positive to pull us back from the wicked world we see all too often.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch was such a moment for me.
My human spirit needs Hedwig, but our community, and our world, needs the arts. Our souls need to be nourished. As much as our physical bodies and minds.
Because being part of this world is too painful without some magic.
And Richmonders want more magic.
TheatreLAB and Spin, Spit & Swear have just announced that due to popular DEMAND they will add a FINAL performance of Hedwig this Sunday, December 7th at 8:00 p.m.
Julie Harthill Clayton is an out and proud bisexual with a passion for reading, writing . . . and NOT arithmetic. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary and more. She is working on her first novel - Two Tickets to Freedom - a semi-autobiographical queer coming-of-age tale. A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.
“Basically it’s S-and-M porn,” Vanda bluntly asserts about the script…April 18, 2016
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