Handcrafted Healing and I
I was recently honored by the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative in being asked to perform with them in a Tactical Read of Nancy Beverly’s Handcrafted Healing. I wrote about an LAFPI Tactical Read I attended previously here. As mentioned, these are called “Tactical Reads” because they have purposes beyond that of your normal staged reading. They are meant specifically to connect female playwrights with female directors, and make the work go somewhere. They are also meant to provide a place for females in our business to connect, period, while we consider each others’ work and whether we might come together to produce it. We- LAFPI and the audience- consider the questions of production, writing, and direction by not only pairing women together for the reading, but also by including a helpful talkback. The connections are further helped by a meet-and-greet-and-wine beforehand. Considering the gender disparity in our business, and others, in so many areas, this is meant to work to represent women fairly.
I was brought into this particular reading by its director, and my former director, Sabrina Lloyd, whom I have lauded here before. She asked me to read the stage directions because “I really like your voice and story telling prowess“. My heart is all aflutter! I was so glad to help this project come to life for LAFPI and to meet again with so many nice people, and to meet many more for the first time.
“Build a new table to seat a family of eight? No problem. Navigate a life-threatening illness with the same precision and grace? Pretty tricky. Find out how master craftswoman Cam and her partner Meredith deal with the question, ‘Do we create our reality?’ while trying to hold on to their lives in Nancy Beverly’s new drama.”
Before sitting down to read the script Sabrina sent me, I’d been speaking with my Iakov about how much I’d like to visit a particular Hopi sacred site during the Hanukkah/Christmas/Holiday season. I’ve mentioned in previous articles how one ex (I’ll give him a name now that I’ve mentioned him three times; I’ll call him Merlin- bahaha, that was his wizard name just as mine is Kora) had told me, whether he was lying or not, that my angel, whom I call Ganymede, had come to him, and Ganymede told Merlin that he is Sirius, the kachina dancer. And there are certain folk who think that, or other indicators, should mean that my angel or I am to bring in the “New Age”, or the “Fifth World”, or some such, which some of course call the “Age of Aquarius”, who is Ganymede. Well. Sabrina and I laughed it off as I explained this- she said I have quite a lot to do! I almost wouldn’t know where to start. Of course we laughed it off. Trust me, I’m not exactly this guy:
If anything, I was always one of those who was as skeptical as Scully.
But there is a particular Hopi place regarding this issue that I should like to visit anyway, just to get some positive energy flowing. I told Nancy Beverly this too- she was interested that I should have been considering this directly before reading her script.
You see, Handcrafted Healing is, indeed, a story about creating our own realities. It is discussed how doing certain “magical” activities, or sending things “out into the universe” can shape your life. I had just been pondering this issue and considering visiting said Native American site. In the play, while attempting to reach out and do something positive to hopefully reflect back into their reality, two of the characters visit a Native American site. They hope that it will heal the main character, who is suffering from cancer, and guide another soul whose body had died of cancer into a good place. And the play mentioned a few times various synchronicities- when putting something out there meant receiving a proper return from the universe. Like writing something down in a magic grid, and then receiving a gift certificate from friends in the mail for just that thing.
The play’s main character, Cam, is an atheistic skeptic, as I once was. By the end of the play she is more serious about using these methods to help heal herself, after coincidences occur and she becomes “ready” to listen to signs given her, such as the suggestions that she should switch to a sugar-free diet. She also receives an undeniable sign in a “heavenly” visitation- or just an encounter- which gives her information she would not have had otherwise. It is nothing too out of the ordinary, but I can see how skeptics might still dismiss it all and throw the baby out with the bathwater- after all, like I said, I had that same mindset once. Then something changed.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still employ logic and hold fast to science; even if they are not my only gods as mathematics are to my father. And of course, it is not like one is able to control one’s reality entirely, and the play discusses this as well. Sometimes we don’t pay attention and we make mistakes. Things don’t always turn out for the best. Or maybe we want one thing, but the universe gives us another because that’s what we need. For instance, if Cam had never broken a rib, she would never have had an X-ray exposing the tumors in her bones. And eventually, no matter what we do, we all die.
So Nancy found the way I discovered her play interesting enough- ah, that I should have been thinking of just these things- creating reality and going to a Native American sacred site. Then, just as in the play, I receive something that evening which is just exactly that. And during the short preparation process, the cast and director and I had such lovely talks about their experiences with the play too, and topics such that I’ve mentioned here regarding spirituality and the universe, and we had girl talks, and so forth. (There was also a gentleman, so they were not all “girl talks”.)
Of course, this wasn’t all that occurred during this play. I should mention the beautiful writing about the wood, which is also forming one’s reality. Physically molding beautiful handcrafted furniture. I am not a very experienced carpenter in this life, although I do have some experience with carpentry and wood and saws and such, mostly in the putting on of plays and creating sets. I’ve also done some metalsmithing and a lot of two-dimensional artwork… of course, just crafting the words in a play, while they do not have the lovely texture and smell of wood, and producing theatre… this is my own carpentry. And the way woodworking was discussed was a theme that could resonate with many, I feel.
And then there is the topic that, despite all I’ve spoken of here, might have been the only topic noticed by some audience members: Cancer. The playwright asked if the play was at all repetitive- I feel she must have feared that as the scenes go along, and we follow the cancer’s progress in Cam, and all the different ways one might fight it, it might have seemed repetitive. I tell you, when I did my first reading of the play, I didn’t find it repetitive at all. It was simply a war containing many battles, and I do not find that dull. In fact, we all had a great time in the first read-through and found a lot of humor in the play. Yet for some audience members, I do not think they catch on to the spirituality in this play, or in a lot of other plays- and so, they see cancer, and, if they aren’t invested or looking at it the right way, it probably could get repetitive. Well, that’s just the nature of it. I think it was very interesting despite the topic. I would often avoid anything about cancer because I would expect it to be, well, so dramatic and dull, even if everyone is affected by that disease in one way or another. But this play was entertaining, I felt.
I also enjoyed the space. It was Rogue Machine, and the sign outside said “Theatre Theater”. It was a bit out of the way- I’d never really been to Mid-City before, or at least not extensively. But it was a lovely theatre with a lovely set.
Lastly, I wish Nancy and Sabrina luck should they decide to put on the piece, and I thank them for giving me such a fun time.
And good luck to all of you as we handcraft our own realities.