Recently, in the span of two weeks, Pete and I saw three amazing performances – one play and two concerts. They reminded me of the importance of supporting artists and the fantastic venues that showcase their work. They also reminded me why, despite the winters which I really do find unbearable, I love this city.
Our whirlwind started with A Twist of Water at Theater Wit. The combination of the story, the actors, and the theater could not have been more perfect. The theater was small and intimate. The stage was set up simply. A dark backdrop set the scene for amazing graphics to tell and complement the story. I sat there wishing I understood how one would even go about creating a presentation like that. A single, snowy branch hung overhead. And, almost unnoticeable from where we were sitting, little buildings were set up on the very top to create a skyline. They reminded me of these water towers which I’ve wanted for a very long time (actually, I think I’d like everything that artist makes, but I digress).
I’m not one to normally cry but this one hit a nerve and I walked away from the theater and all the way to the car with tears still streaming down my face. Mostly, this was on a personal level due to my strong feelings about adoption (see the link above for a re-cap of the story which I won’t re-hash here). I’ve actually always hoped to adopt at some point so have thought a lot about the different kinds of feelings those children might have about the situation. But I’ve more recently also come to understand the not-always-as-expected ways in which people are affected when a baby is given up. The natural inclination is to think of the birth mother and her thoughts and reasons but I can now say it is often far-far more complicated and reaching than that. I wasn’t the only one in tears though so the story certainly struck a more universal chord.
I loved the way the history of Chicago was woven into the story of the characters. Such a beautiful story full of so much heartbreak, hope, and humor. This is my Chicago. The city where, at the end of a long day at work, I look forward to the man playing buckets on the Madison Street bridge. I didn’t know until I found that article that his name is Mark, but he makes me smile and I often think that I’d like to tell him so. Maybe some day I’ll find the right way to express to him how infectious his good mood is, even if it is just during those fleeting moments while I cross the bridge.
(As a side note, if you’ve never seen Chicago bucket boys in action, here’s an example. They’re incredible. I remember first seeing the buckets played by boys around the United Center back when the Bulls were winning championships. I was fairly young – probably 7th grade – but remember being taken aback by the simplicity of their instruments in contrast to the importance of their earning a wage. For an amazing book about two boys growing up in this neighborhood of Chicago somewhat around that time, I highly recommend There Are No Children Here – it’s one of my favorite books.)
The Route 66 Theatre Company, who performed the play, claims to choose “plays and musicals rooted in the stories of Americana but with a “Chicago Style”.” If this performance is any indication, I’d love to see anything else they choose to do. I love pretty things and Chicago Style, even if at times harsh or complicated, can also be beautiful if you’re willing to look.