Opening has arrived at last for the long-awaited Steppenwolf production of HIR. For the past several weeks, I have been neck deep in Taylor Mac's magnificently re-imagined America. I've also been sharing space and creation with some of the most talented artists I have ever known.
The process has been fascinating. Understanding the world of people who have experienced extreme trauma has been both heartbreaking and a lesson in the resilience of the human spirit. I took myself through a web based course in Skills Training in Affect and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) through the National Center for PTSD before rehearsals started, which helped me grasp how the characters might behave in light of their trauma.
It has truly been a gift to collaborate with Hallie Gordon, an incredibly perceptive and creative director, along with a mostly female identified production, design, and artistic team. To share space with these powerful and talented women, and to observe and learn from the ease with which leaders in the field like Anna Shapiro and Ann Wrightson work has been invaluable. My analysis of the experience of women in this country has been sharpened and taken to new depths as the lives and experiences of the women I was sharing space with colored the shape the work was taking. The conversations over coffee, or late at night when the lights were up and the tables struck, were incredibly meaningful to me. Women in leadership at regional theaters hangs at just 25% - and here I was sharing space and soaking up the power of wildly talented, intelligent, compassionate female leaders. I cannot describe what this has meant to me.
I continue to learn new things about Paige, her strength, and the vicious cycle of violence that has entangled her family. What is to be said of the American dream if it is built upon a fantasy? What does it mean to construct a cheap version of a thing we always wanted to be better than, and how are we to respond when we realize it will never be better?
What mercy do we owe to the broken pieces of the past? And what place do those pieces have as we inch ever further toward a better future?