Posts tagged ‘anita hill’

January 22, 2012

Deb Margolin inpires me AGAIN!

Can I tell you something?

Every time I write something, I have this fear. I have this fear that it will be the last thing that I ever write. I am afraid that I will run out of ideas. Or, that my ideas will become a THING. I do not want to be part of the next big thing. I want to operate outside of that whole framework, outside of that flow of flashiness that comes and goes and before you know it, it’s on to the next big thing.

So this is not “shit writers say” or “shit widows say” or “shit mothers say” or even if it IS shit, it’s just shit because it’s shitty, not because it’s “the shit.”

Again, I am deeply inspired by Deb Margolin. Again, I have heard her play, “Good Morning Anita Hill It’s Ginni Thomas I Just Wanted To Reach Across the Airwaves and the Years and Ask You To Consider Something I Would Love You To Consider an Apology Sometime and Some Full Explanation of Why You Did What You Did With My Husband So Give It Some Thought and Certainly Pray About This and Come To Understand Why You Did What You Did Okay Have a Good Day.” (Yes, that is the full title.)

Only this time, instead of seeing her perform it in person, I just listened to her perform it on the radio. Live on wbai.org, just a few minutes ago. Just her voice in my headphones over my i-phone, taking me through this journey of frustration and yearning and bittersweet loving and aging and lamenting and poetry (oh, the poetry), while I washed the dishes, my son watching his cartoons in the background. And I didn’t think I could wait until the end of the piece to sit and start writing this. And at first, I tried to do both things at once, listen and write, but of course, I couldn’t.  So I settled instead for the listening and the warm water flooding over my hands, which seemed to make so much more sense.

Because you see, the words are flooding out of me. I am writing, then breathing a sigh of relief, and then a few minutes later, I want more. I need more. Like a sex addict, I just can’t be satisfied. I can’t get enough. I must put down more words, I must trace another path, another journey, another story, another wave of release, of sharing, of comparing, of touching you, whoever you are, just to connect, to know that I have been heard, to know that you know, that you recognize, that maybe you also feel what I’m feeling.

And I’m afraid. Deeply afraid. Afraid to want this so much, to need it so much. And yet, more afraid NOT to do this thing which frightens me deeply. Because really, when I take a little step back, I realize, I have already survived some of the most frightening things imaginable. Terrible losses, shocks, tragedies, disappointments, frustrations. And of course I have imagined even worse. And I know that there are people who suffer so much more awful and unthinkable things every single day, so really, what could be so bad about writing down what I feel and letting others read it?

Really.

What is the worst thing that could happen? You might not like it. You might not like me. You might not think I am a good writer. You might not enjoy my style. You might think me self-indulgent, maudlin, sarcastic, or even irrelevant. You might feel bothered, imposed upon. You might say, please, stop torturing me with your damn feelings, FEELINGS, blah blah, whatever. Shit, tell me something I don’t know.

Deb Margolin is brilliant with this play, because in it, she says so much of everything, but in a very particular, specific way. It’s a story about the experience of this one woman, Anita Hill, in this one moment in time, but it’s also the story of all women who have been harassed by men and then been powerless to have their voices heard and then ACTED UPON in the right way! And then it’s the story about her, Deb, but it’s also the story of mothers, who watch their children grow up and become their own people who don’t need us anymore, and then must contend with this world where terrible things happen. And other stuff about too many gadgets and dead birds and Bristol Palin…

I experience a strange thing when I hear this play of hers. Part of me is so filled up with the completeness of the experience. And yes, it is complete – this play is solid, and it is thorough and tight, and I can hear that it has been tightened up even more since I saw it performed in person (kudos to Deb and director, Merri Milwe). As I listened to it this morning, I felt as though it was saying everything there was to say. That there was nothing left. And I cried for being touched like that. For my own experience (yes, I identified with it so deeply) being so heard and so well articulated for others to share.

For example, “I don’t have time to dream things; I just need to do them. That’s how late it is…”

This speaks to me in a deep, deep way.

And so here I am writing about writing, and about Deb Margolin AGAIN. Because when something inspires you, it’s OK to let people know, so they can also be inspired. (Please listen to her play. I am sure it will be archived at wbai.org. If I get a more specific link I will post it in the comments.) Because I am realizing that I can write whatever I want, and that it’s OK if I posted something yesterday and now I’m posting something again today, because if it’s too much, or you don’t like it, then you won’t read it. And it’s OK if I put my feelings out there for you to share, because you might actually feel something similar.

Oh, and I think I’m going to change the name of my blog soon, because I’m pretty sure that this is original.

PS – The broadcast of Deb’s play has been archived! You can hear it or download the entire program from January 23rd, 2012 here.

November 20, 2011

Deb Margolin’s new solo piece about Anita Hill inspires troubling questions as it entertains… plus it really made me laugh

Last night, after seeing Deb Margolin‘s new one-woman show called, “Good Morning Anita Hill… ” at the All For One Theater Festival at Theatre 80 St. Marks, I had a disturbing dream. I dreamed that a man I hardly knew had latched onto me and grabbed my breast and would not let go. As much as I screamed and cursed and pounded on him and struggled, I could not break free of his grip. I woke up feeling exhausted and frustrated and helpless. It seems Deb’s play got under my skin.

I remember the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. I remember watching Anita Hill’s testimony – her dignified presence, her calm demeanor. I remember her detailed descriptions of things Clarence Thomas had said to her, things of an explicitly sexual nature that no sane woman would 1) make up and then 2) articulate for a world audience, knowing what that type of exposure would do to her in the public eye. No woman living outside of upside-down backwards world would make that choice, unless she felt she absolutely had to do it. It was clear to me at the time that she had been telling the truth. I remember listening incredulously and with increasing anger to the pundits debating the veracity of her statements. I remember the sinking feeling when I watched helplessly as the white men of the senate made the decision that it was safer to appear sexist than racist and voted to confirm Clarence Thomas as a supreme court justice.

This is the stuff of Deb Margolin’s latest performance piece. The full title, “Good Morning Anita Hill It’s Ginni Thomas I Just Wanted To Reach Across the Airwaves and the Years and Ask You To Consider Something I Would Love You To Consider an Apology Sometime and Some Full Explanation of Why You Did What You Did With My Husband So Give It Some Thought and Certainly Pray About This and Come To Understand Why You Did What You Did Okay Have a Good Day,”  is taken verbatim from a phone message Ginni Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas, recently left on Anita Hill’s voice mail. The surreality of that act is the perfect cap to the lingering insanity of having a man like Thomas, whose character is in such deep question, sitting in one of the most powerful positions in the country.

This is the jumping off point for the emotional terrain that Deb explores in her latest work-in-progress, a long awaited return to solo performance. She flows effortlessly through a stream of consciousness that journeys from a broad exploration of courage and tragedy to the everyday tasks of our lives. She juxtaposes the bittersweet experience of parenting children who need us less and less (“I’m not over their childhoods the way they are”), to the increasing challenge of making a difference in the world. What is left for us when we have given everything we can, taken back everything we can, reshaped, reclaimed and renounced, but resorting to a big Fuck You? An unsettling landing place, to say the least, for those of us who continue to believe that change is possible, without adopting the violence of our oppressors… and yet, what else are we to think when confronted with the likes of Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars?? The absurdity of it all…

What is happening to our world? What is happening to my spirit? What is happening to my children? What is happening to my life? Big questions, delivered with honesty and poetry and humor. What else could one ask for in a play?

I first met Deb Margolin over two decades ago when she and I enjoyed a brief stint together as part of the infamous Sister Theresa and the All Jew-Girl Band (we were two of the Jew-Girls). We haven’t seen each other in ages, and much has happened since then. But I am happy to say that despite raising two children into near adult-hood, battling cancer, becoming a renowned playwright and solo performer and joining the faculty of the Yale University Theater Department, Deb hasn’t changed a bit. She is still as open and brilliant and affectionate and funny and quirky and might I add, in terrific shape (work that black dress, girl) as ever. And though the play is still in need of honing for maximum dramatic impact, the material is all there.

And who else but Deb Margolin would have the courage to revisit this troubling chapter in our country’s history? In a tight black dress? With high heels? And dancing?

 

PS – A few months after this post, Deb performed her play live on the air on WBAI radio. An archived recording of the January 23, 2012 broadcast can be enjoyed here.