Sunday, April 20, 2014

This Good Friday


Theatre Group Dzieci
A Passion

Good Friday. 

There are four cans of liquid nutritional supplement on the steps. And a beautiful long apparently cashmere coat that I drape over the scaffolding railing. By afternoon, all these items are gone .

Geoffrey comes in early, stakes out a space in the back of the sanctuary. Goes to sleep. Earlier Martin had called to say that Soli had seen him downstairs near the restrooms. Yes, that happens. He’s respectful and harmless, though eccentric. Geoffrey, that is.

Karen is playing her music in the sanctuary when  Jean comes in with her work crew of kids from Sacramento, all in  their familiar Presbyterian Disaster Relief t-shirts. They are young. They’ve been working all week rebuilding homes in the Rockaways. RDA is building six. The total needed is 27,000.

Jean and the Sacramento PDA workgroup
I tell the crew the history of the church. It’s struggles. It’s witness. Ending with the ceramic baptismal font cover Dan’s mom Sheryl made. Occupy Wall Street over Tiffany Victoriana. The contractor Don has special interest in the architectural history and is eying things carefully, making mental notes.

They head off to Central Park while I try and get ready for Easter. Danielle places a beautiful cable knit sweater and a straw hat on the steps. Soon, only the hat is left. Late in the day, I decide to head down to the Gate to give RL a head’s up about the kids. But I run into the crew. Jeanie says that she already saw him. So I join them at Caesar’s for pizza. And Don has ideas for a work group to come work on West-Park.

After dinner, they just have a little while to chill before Dzieci’s A Passion. As this is the day we commemorate the passion of Christ, the timing is right. The play begins. It’s evening dark this time. Some blocking has been changed since last week. But again, I’m drawn into their story. I’m watching closely, wanting  to understand how it works. It’s like a community gathered for ritual. One that has happened over and again. Perhaps at a scheduled time every year. Familiar and yet new.  Trading well known, familiar roles  around. And in the midst of telling the  story, it becomes real and present and we are in the midst of it as a real time reality.

As the dance to a lively Hinay ma tov reaches its peak, they are inviting audience members  to join in. One does. It’s former Dzieci Isis, back for this performance in a dance she knows so well with old friends. Hinay ma tov

It’s that song that will bring us back together after the scroll has been left, tied up as in a burial shroud but at the same time an object of respect and veneration. And we all go out together. Later, in conversation, Jean will say, I have never been so moved by a passion and Matt says, Let me take that down. Rev. Jean from Sacramento? And Jean is immediately trying to figure out how to get them to Sacramento. Somewhere in there we notice Geoffrey is still here. 

The Dzieci want to talk with the kids. And this is where things start to go awry. They are already in the chapel where Open Mic is getting ready to begin. So there’s a moment of confusion and then the Dzieci thank the kids and exit.

A couple of the kids are planning on performing. RL opens. Then Dion with his good hearted stand up. Then a female comedian announces she wants to work hard. Or let’s say blue. And awkward uncertainty sets in until Jean decides to lead them all out. In the hall, they encounter Joel and Jean
A hug with Joel
persuades him to do an impromptu improve. Which he does.

Then they are out the door.  One of the kids brings a message that the blue comedian is done and please come back. Just for one song. Jean hesitates a minute but has already made her exit s the crew is on their way to the subway and back to Jamaica.

Halfway down the block, I want to run after them and yell come back, come back. I think I know what RL has in mind. Another 10 minutes won’t matter. Opportunities come once and vanish. For every second chance I’ve had there’s an equal number of never to come agains. You never know. By the time I think this through, they’re an avenue block away.

I’m kicking myself for not having insisted when RL steps outside. I’m sorry, I say. I am too, he says. And then, you’re out of practice. I look at him, a question on my face. …. dealing with rational people, he says. And I appreciate that.Trying to make me feel better. But I’m going to brood on this awhile. So I’m lost in my head while the comedian’s boyfriend Chris lays down a solid electric guitar set which RL compares to Duane Eddy. And I barely notice another stand up guy who seems to be off in his own stream of consciousness without a paddle.
Chris plays a mean guitar solo

But I snap out of it in the middle of Joel’s performance when he enters into a riff on his encounter with Jean and the crew and he just lays me out. He weaves his emotions about their work, their faces. Luckily, his videographer friend caught the performance. It sort of healed the night for me. Sort of.

By the time I came on, we were down to close friends and associates. So RL decides to take a different approach to stay awhile. Kind of slow, reflective. And that’s how it ends.

This Good Friday.

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