>Last night, I made an impromptu speech–in the middle of rehearsal–when we finally had everyone present, for the very first time. Okay, imagine that we open in three days and last night was the first time all cast and crew members were in the same room at the same time. So when we were all assembled, I gave a little rant or pep talk, because I realized that not everyone knew what I thought the mission was, or the manifesto was for this piece.
And it is this.
LaMama is one of the first experimental theaters, yes most folks know that, but beyond experimentation is the deeply held notion that we are all stronger with diversity and far-flung backgrounds. I was raised on this theory from my foreign correspondent at father and anthropologist mother, but it was Ellen Stewart, the founder of LaMaMa who drilled it into my head. She showed me that Oedipus could be from Korea and his wife from down the block on Fourth Street and it would be passionate and powerful. She showed me that drums could be logs, or pipes or expensive instruments and still beat out a rhythm. She convinced me that passion trumps wisdom; trumps education; and trumps sameness. And I watched companies come from 135 different nations to perform on the many stages of LaMaMa for more than 30 years and I believed each performance contributed to a more peaceful world.
I also, over these decades, came to see, what I thought was LaMaMa style, morph into an elevated theatrical style called “World Theater.” I saw it in The Lion King and everywhere I looked on Broadway, or in marvelous dance and music performances. No longer were we so desirous of homogeneity; we wanted our diversity to be on display, celebrated and huge.
So too with Calling. We are a cast and crew of 25 and we come from Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and America, and mixed versions of all of these. We are short and young; or stout and older, as your scribe here, but we share a passion for telling a story through words, music, motion and diversity. The creation of this opera was a labor of love, no not just on the part of composer Doug and me, but really on the part of the cast and crew. Because these were the dedicated souls who took little or no pay, who brought their own clothes, who went home late and got up early to go to day jobs like Fifth grade or teaching or designing or mothering.
There is a song in Calling where the Mother croons to her child “All are heroes all are mythic.” And in fact that is the cast, the crew, the parents, the partners all the supporters of Calling. They are the heroes and believe me that I know and send appreciation to them for all they bring, offer and bestow on our dream.