CAN WE TALK? By Thomas Putnam
We began HG back in the summer of 1991. We cleaned up an old farm implement garage, borrowed some folding chairs, purchased some very used stage lights and system, and off we went. In preparation of that first performance of A Miracle Worker a number of us spent long hours, way into the night, crawling up and down ladders and figuring out how we were going to hang lights and cable from the high I-beams. During many of those nights, Rob Fitzgerald and I would crank up the radio (remember them?) and groove. One song that was released that summer was “Let's Give Them Something to Talk About.” It seems like yesterday that we danced and sang along with Bonnie Raitt. We were beginning something new and we were excited to give all sorts of people plenty to talk about.
Fast forward to 2009. As we worked on The Laramie Project we were challenged and stirred with Moises Kauffman's encouragement to envision every production of this play as an open door for dialogue. Such a play lends itself to, indeed begs for, honest, open dialogue. True listening to the “other.” Offering thoughtful responses. Being open to the possibility of change. Walking around in another's skin for a while.
We've had talk-backs for a few of the shows we've produced since then. One that has impacted me a great deal is Every Brilliant Thing. The open, often painful, stories that audience members were courageous (or desperate) enough to share with total strangers...but strangers who had a shared experience while watching the play...were powerful. Empathy-building.
So now we're ready to open a play about family connections. And someone wants a divorce. After 50 years of marriage. One of the sons cries out in desperation: “You can't end it without a conversation.” Grand Horizons begs for conversation. Family connections are something each of us have experienced. Those connections may have been solid and nourishing and they might have been damaging and hurtful, or absent.
We're offering opportunities for dialogue both before and after each performance (except following the opening night when we have a reception for all.) I encourage you to join us for these opportunities for listening and sharing and exploring and working through-ing and empathy-building. Pre-show talks are 45 minutes before the show (and you have a jump in picking out your seat.) They'll last about 20 minutes, at which time you can get a snack and chat. The Post-show talk-backs will begin soon after the bows and will last as long as people want to talk.
We've got plenty to talk about, Bonnie.