Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Girl from Diamond Mountain


Another storm brewing. Snow already starting to fall. Blizzard predicted.  Events being cancelled left and right. Carman Moore has postponed his performance scheduled for this evening. Dzieci has cancelled their shape note singing. Noche has cancelled their rehearsals. Things are eerily quiet.

Danielle and I make sure that the posters are up for Carmen Moore’s concert along with the postponement announcement.

Priska comes in to work on her upcoming exhibit. She’s got time with Jeremy on tour in Zanzibar.

Danielle is busy shoveling, trying to open up space for people to cross. She tells me some kind guys helped her out. I go to look for an icebreaker and come out and join her. It’s a losing battle. Even as we clear ice and we open a channel for melted snow to flow through, it only adds to the growing lake at the corner. Time to surrender.

The snow continues to fall.


The Girl from Diamond Mountain crew

Valentine’s Day. As temperatures rise, slush lakes grow at every corner making crossing nearly impossible.

I come to the church after stopping at our neighborhood clergy strategy session for food justice. Pastor Heidi and I share the word of the NMASS victory. And we agree to redouble our anti-sweatshop efforts, planning a day for worker justice. Much as I’d like it to be May Day, that won’t work.  We are also working on the campaign for universal school lunch.  And Rabbi Jeremy reflects on kosher and fair labor practices. The old idea my friend David once shared with me back at Bridgeport that food from oppressed workers is not kosher. And we decide to add this idea to our strategy.

Pat O is in the neighborhood and just stops in. We review the last community meeting to put together a campaign to fix the façade. He’s looking into Columbia interns for us.

David S is disappointed that once again Open Mic will be cancelled. RL is concerned that cold temperatures and lack of staff will lead to people trying to stay in the church who will be difficult to remove. Like the teenagers he one found in the gym. I’m concerned we’ll have to start all over to make our night vital again. Disappointed people week after week. RL tells me not to worry about that. So I’ll leave that to him.

Carman arrives and his artists soon after for rehearsal for tonight’s performance.  Including Cara who will be dancing tonight along with Kiori. And Caterina who will be doing projections. And Carman’s principle collaborator, Lotte.

The time passes all too quickly and soon its almost time. No one else here, so I will take care of the box office. I fear that the change of night, the weather and a long holiday weekend will all conspire against a good house. But audience members are beginning to arrive. And I’m very happy to see my friend Milica who because of the change is able to be here. And I can get tips from her about where to shop and where to hang in my new neighborhood where she lives nearby. She’s a long time colleague and friend of Carman. 
Lotte, Carman and Milica

The performance begins with an intimate house. And I welcome the audience by saying that because the subject matter is intimate, that’s OK. The piece begins in silence with Cara soon joined by Kiori from the other side. The Carman takes to the keyboard, Caterina’s clouds appear on the screen and Lotte begins with the first of her 14 song cycle, Clouds, singing an innocence that will soon be violated. Broken.

As the cycle proceeds, the intensity grows. For some it becomes unbearable and they quietly leave. But most of us are mesmerized. Held in the grip of Lotte’s narrative and she holds us tight. As the cycle moves back towards healing, as the  hand drawn picture of the monster is burned, as she moves Towards the light, the dancers return and in both their presence and their reflected silhouettes against the projection, a sense of peace
Kiori, Caterina and Cara
returns. As it ends, there is a moment of stunned silence. And then applause.

We stay for some discussion. Lotte is praised for her courage. And it is a brave piece. I speak about my friend Ann’s work in Los Angeles with prostituted women for 30 years and how over 95% of them were victims of childhood sexual abuse. The same with the runaway/throwaway kids my friend Jed worked with in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. And the lost children I had encountered who had attached themselves to the Occupy movement. This performance piece is all about opening up space to have a conversation about what we keep hidden in the shadows but is just as current as last week’s Times and the Woody Allen saga.

Someone asks how many times this piece has been performed. And when Carman and Lotte say, Twice, both times at this church, I feel a sense of pride. To be able in some small way to be a part of its  ongoing development. And tonight I was also moved to see Cara’s performance. Using all her training and experience to interact with Lotte’s narrative. 
Lotte, Bob and Carman
Sometime during the performance, Rachel has made her way in. After days of absence, hiding from the cold. She approaches me, tells me what an important evening this was. And that as a trained professional therapist, she’s be happy to help anyone who needed to talk about anything. But you must be fully confidential, she tells me. Rachel.

It has been another very good West-Park night.

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