Reflection on Spark in Baltimore
Theatre Project and Bump in the Road
November 12, 2012
Directed by Carmela Lanza-Weil
By Carmela Lanza-Weil
Bump In the Road Theatre dedicates its work to encouraging discussion about difficult, under-examined and/or important issues. When the invitation to produce a reading of “Spark” came into view, I felt an immediate connection and acted on producing a reading in Baltimore.
Working on the reading inspired me to contact several groups dedicated to supporting veterans to introduce them to the project and invite their attendance and participation. At the advent of the project, I envisioned introducing the veterans to the idea of theatre as an instrument of support, a vehicle for social change, and a way to gather community in ways they had perhaps not previously considered.
But as I spoke with soldiers at the VA, members of a veteran artists organization (one of whom ended up reading the role of Lexie), and a women-veterans group in the beginning organizational stage (although with already over forty members), I learned about other projects that spoke to their experiences, as well. Two examples include Towson University’s month-long film series dedicated to the veteran experience and “The Telling Project” which involves creating a theatre piece from stories provided by soldiers, their families, and friends. Many of the Veterans I spoke with thanked me for “thinking of them” and making the effort to bring their story to light. I found this humbling, troubling, and provoking; their words made me realize somehow the extent to which our returning warriors feel invisible and under-valued when they return home.
After our reading on Monday night (Nov. 12), we held a talkback. A young woman in the audience spoke first. She had very recently returned from one of our current conflicts and she felt compelled to stay afterwards to share her experience and to let us know how the play touched her heart and made her feel a bit less alone, for at least a little while. She is a mom of a four-year old little boy who almost forgot her during her tours; her marriage dissolved and, in her words, her life collapsed. But she also said that the reading of the play brought her some comfort. She felt her story was on that stage and that someone cared enough to write it, present it, and talk about it.
That is the reason I do this work. It matters. It is important. And if only for the sake of one person in the audience, it is enough. Thank you, Caridad, for the making the scheme available and allowing at least one soldier in Baltimore to feel a little less alone and a great deal more appreciated.
Carmela Lanza-Weil is producing artistic director of Bump in the Road Theatre, www.Bumpintheroad.org