“It’s a heart rending time to be both a woman and an immigrant in this country... our dignity, our character, and rights are all under attack.” So spoke America Ferrerra as she gazed out over the hundreds of thousand of women who descended on Washington on Saturday, January 21st for the Women’s March. Women who came from all over the country, sleeping on friends’ floors, crossing coasts, and riding buses through the night to be there. We wore pink pussy hats, accepted free doobies, and marched bearing homemade signs or bearing the five official images of the March. We broke out into impromtu verses of “Lean on Me” and cheered and chanted our throats raw as four-plus hours of speakers proclaimed that Donald Trump is not America.
It's mid-January 2017, and we are holding it together. Some of us are feeling energized by the need to mobilize against the incoming Trump administration, others brace for its onslaught. Many people eagerly ushered 2016 out with swift and pointed kicks to the rear, relieved to see the back of a year which encompassed the Orlando shooting, unceasing waves of wartorn refugees, increasing violence and unease around the globe, the passing of iconic celebrities, the rebirth of lurking racism and homophobia and the election of the crudest, most sexist, and least prepared celebrity to the presidency, just to name a few. These events proved too much for even the toughest among us to swallow. Certainly we need a lifting of the gloom as Inauguration Day arrives.
Last week, Madonna received Billboard’s 2016 Woman of the Year Award with a speech that was, well, quintessential Madonna: fierce, raw, defiant, in your face, and no holds barred. At the same time, it was vulnerable and halting, passionate, cynical, and brutally honest. Most notably it spoke to the power, the daring, of a woman surviving over the long haul.
The best kind of theater experience is one which ushers you out into the night talking animatedly with your companions– debating the hidden motivations of the show’s characters and filling in all the details not directly spelled out in the script. If one has truly hit the jackpot, the second round of drinks arrives at your post-theater restaurant and the group is still at it, expounding on the show’s larger themes and taking them far beyond the boundaries of the playwright’s original map. Such was my experience last weekend at the Iron Crow’s production of “The Zero Hour” at the Baltimore Theatre Project – a thought-provoking and original take on the complicated themes of identity, honesty, and the astonishing variations of cruelty in even the most ordinary human life. Playwright Madeleine George’s work also lays bare the deceptions we invoke in order to survive the intricate webs of relationship, the weight of history, and the demands of personal responsibility in our daily lives.
For those of us who voted for Hillary Clinton, the past two weeks have been ones of disbelief, despair and outrage, steeped in actual mourning. We hold our loved ones tight, and we reach out to each other for solace and community. During the endless and grueling campaign, Donald Trump tapped into the darkest fears and basest insecurities of our fellow Americans and provided an outlet for their deepest prejudices. His path to victory quite literally pitted people against each other, debasing our culture in unprecedented ways and obliterating the basemark lines of decency and civility. Now, we are left with the wreckage.
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