I somehow find myself on the guild of Profile Theatre.
This surprises me.
I have had little previous exposure to theatre and have typically failed to connect with the live performances that I have seen. I preferred the slickness and distance of cinema, needing, oddly, an element of detachment in order to immerse myself fully. The intimacy of theatre was distracting to me. I pictured the actors applying their make-up, waiting in the wings, and was unable–I thought–to take the imaginative leap required.
I felt that I lacked a certain kind of intelligence or discernment. I didn’t feel badly about this. I figured it just wasn’t my medium.
I rarely dismiss a thing entirely. When my friend Stephanie asked me to see a play with her about two women in 1970s South Africa, I was interested. She and I did the same Gender and Women’s Studies Masters program in Ireland (though we were only introduced and met once I moved to Portland) and it’s been nice to have someone to share and foster my feminist leanings with here.
So I gladly accepted her invitation to see Athol Fulgard’s The Road to Mecca but my hopes were hardly high. I expected to be intellectually interested in the play’s subject matter and its themes. I thought I might learn something new about race and ethnicity and gender relations. What I did not expect was to openly weep. I did not expect to see myself so painfully in an elderly Afrikaner widow. I did not expect that I would be touched on an emotional level that night and haunted for days to come.
In short, it was one of the most transformative and affecting ‘artistic’ experiences I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if it can be replicated but I’m going to go and find out.
I was planning to keep an eye on upcoming plays at Profile but it is just happenstance that I heard about the Guild at a fundraising event last month. I still feel like as though I’m yet to really find a place for myself in Portland. I’m sort of stretching my arms out in all directions, figuring out who I am here, where I will belong and develop and thrive. I’m excited about this new thing in my world. I think it will help my writing, particularly the revelation of character through dialogue. And it feels good to participate in Portland life and hopefully help some.
The aim of the guild is to promote the theatre and greater community participation. I am a quiet person and not one to proselytize, but I hope that I can convey to folks how thankful I am for the experience I had through Profile, and how glad I am that I didn’t dismiss the theatre entirely. I just needed that one breakthrough moment, and I encourage anyone who has felt a similar disconnect to remain open. Accept all invitations.
Here’s a couple to start with:
On November 13th, Portland’s Hollywood Theater is showing a special screening of Fool For Love, written by and starring Sam Shepard and directed by Robert Altman. Profile Theatre will host a beer and popcorn reception in the upstairs lobby from 6-7pm and Artistic Director, Adriana Baer, will talk briefly before the film about Profile’s upcoming season of Sam Shepard.
As always, Profile’s season of plays is devoted to a single playwright and 2014 will be the year of the often strange but compelling Shepard.
The season will showcase three large-scale but rarely-performed productions, as well as a festival of one-act plays, and a series of lectures, dialogues and further explorations of the playwright’s work.
Consider checking out one or all of what’s to come. You’ll be hearing me talk about it a lot; I’m curious and excited and still have no idea what theatre is really all about but, like everything in life, I guess we learn by going.