This morning, I took Caridad Svich to the airport: we talked about her trip to Cuba during the Clinton administration, what she saw, what she taught, what she’d like to return to see. Last night I had dinner with her and Amparo Garcia-Crow, and it was my privilege to listen to these amazing playwrights, songwriters, translators, women discuss their craft, their loves, their challenges and joys. Prior to dinner, Caridad gave a brilliant talk about her work, specifically her play about the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, The Way of Water (and yes, I was a fan of the play before I heard her speak about it, simply because of the title).
My notes include from last night include:
-write outside yourself to know yourself
-write outside and inside yourself
-we have the means to tell the important stories
The third point really hit home: in this country, we have the means, the time, the latitude, the camaraderie, to delve into what really matters. For Caridad, this means an exploration of activism and artistry and the very important choice of whom we choose to put at the center of our work. In The Way of Water, two primary characters are fishermen, men raised on the Gulf, now poisoned by the spill. With no interest in leaving what has become a deep connection to the water that informs their lives, one of them faces his impending death with a clarity and insight that makes the heart break – with the true eloquence of the vernacular, the play gives us the human struggle still unfolding along the Gulf. In June 2012, a NoPassport theatre alliance international reading scheme for the play sustained 50 readings between April 3-June 4. In real time, actors and directors across the globe engaged in this work, diving into the material with a passion and a commitment, blogging regularly to sustain one another.
We have the means to tell the stories that matter, to reach inside our readers and engage the empathy muscle. I will remember this as I revise and as I teach. Storytelling matters – it’s part of us, and it might be the necessary means to weave our world together to create a more coherent narrative for all.
Amparo Garcia-Crow is the host of The Living Room: Storytime for Grownups, which takes places the first Saturday of each month at Galaxy Studios.