Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Confession and Community
How's this for really avant guard, creative theater? Laura Barnett and Sandra Spannan have been performing what they call "Inside/Out," in a storefront at 112 West 44th Street in Manhattan.
Dressed as 19th century washerwomen, the two sit behind the glass window of the storefront.
Stenciled on the glass is an open invitation to all who pass by: "Air Your Dirty Laundry. 100% Confidential. Anonymous. Free!"
People who participate write their secrets on blank sheets of paper, place them in an envelope and drop them in a bucket on the sidewalk. After walking away, an unseen assistant collects the confessions and delivers them to the performers inside the display area. After reading the messages, the performers affix them to the inside of the plate glass window for others to read.
The actors/artists also spend their time painting portraits of passersby.
People confess everything.
Details about their marriages, affairs, sex life, etc.
Friendships gone bad.
Past violent acts, those suffered and those perpetrated.
As I read the story in The New York Times on Saturday morning (May 6, 2006, A17, 23), it hit me again that one of the most important benefits of genuine connection to others in a community is the opportunity such relationships offer us to be honest about our feelings, experiences, longings, hopes, failures and desires.
People want to be known. We even want our secrets known, understood and accepted. Confession is good for the soul.
Ironically, nothing compares to the loneliness of a crowded city.
The antidote is community.
Creating community by definition involves risk.
But when community emerges and authentic connections result, the fear of risk evaporates and the effort always seems well worthwhile.