It has now been 24 hours and I think now I am ready to hopefully gather my words enough to write about The Electric Company’s incredibly beautiful production of All the Way Home. This production had a profound impact on me. And, for nearly 24 hours I’m not sure I could really figure out why. It was a very emotional experience and sometimes it takes me awhile to process those things.
We live in a precarious time. Over the past couple of weeks since I have been home I have seen two movies, "Young Adult" and "Shame", that have left me deeply unsettled. They are both movies whose characters are in their 30’s. These characters live lonely & isolated lives. Their world’s are empty and void. They have no sense of meaning or purpose. No sense of connection. Both characters struggle to reach out and yet never succeed.
If these are the stories of our lives and our world - and particularly my generation - I find this deeply disturbing. Is that really what we have become?! Are we really a generation of young people who are completely disconnected from each other and from ourselves?! Are we really so afraid to reach out to each other?! To share our stories?! To share our imperfections?! If this is true, it makes me profoundly sad.
And, to be quite frank, I am sick to death of these stories. I want to see and hear stories that celebrate life in all “it’s beauty… and all it’s sorrows” because “that’s simply what living is” (to quote Kim Collier in her director’s notes from the program). This is not to say that everything I see and hear has to be all rainbows and butterflies. No, life is filled with both love and loss as All the Way Home so magnificently shows us. You can’t have one without the other and together love and loss are the very things that make our stories great.
Yet, right now we seem to live in a world that prides itself on the ability to go it alone and a society that perpetuates fear. A fear of sharing our stories. Because if other people see our imperfections then what?! We won’t be seen as strong. As successful. As what?! I’m really very curious to know what we’re all so afraid of. Because every single person has a story to share. A story that makes them who they are. And, I think, it is high time we get back to the very basic human need of connection or, in other words, sharing our stories.
So, to come back to All the Way Home, I think this is why it had such a profound impact on me because it is a simple story of one family who goes through incredible loss but endures with love. And, we as the audience were given the opportunity to share this story with them. We were even invited in to sit amongst them, to feel their pain and to laugh along with them. When Jay Follett (Jonathan Young) sang and danced with his wife and son I could feel his joy and when Mary Follet (Meg Roe) crumbled to the ground with tears I could feel her pain. So could every other audience member and together we could collectively feel the love and loss that spread throughout the room connecting both actors and audience. When they laughed, we laughed with them and when they cried, we cried with them.
This is an incredible thing to experience at any time. But I feel it is particularly incredible at such a precarious time in our society when we seem so disconnected from each other. When the stories we are telling ourselves are stories of isolation. Of people struggling alone. These are not the stories we need to see and hear. We need stories and experiences like All the Way Home to remind us to reach out to each other. To let people in to share our burdens and to share our joys.
It was an experience I will never forget. And, it is without a doubt one of the best theatre experiences I have ever had. So, I just want to end this post, by saying thank you to the Electric Company for sharing All the Way Home with us and particularly thank you for reminding us what truly matters.