Action, Reactions, and the Future

Photo by Bill Cameron- Garden of Names 2017 at the Cowles Center for Dance

Photo by Bill Cameron- Garden of Names 2017 at the Cowles Center for Dance

What better to do when your show is cancelled because of a historic snowstorm in mid-April than to write you all a letter! Our Saturday performances of Garden of Names was cancelled an hour ago due to this dangerous weather. I hope you all are safe and sound at home right now as I write this. However, I also hope that you were all able to experience the powerful performance I both was a part of and was able to witness from backstage. 

I believe the most powerful performance we had so far was our Friday school matinee. In front of an audience of teens, our director asked the audience "Remember when students protested guns just a little while ago? Well, what if those students just disappeared?" As I watched the character Cecilia say the names of teens arrested for protesting rising bus fares while holding a white dove and then making it "disappear", I imagined students at our local school disappearing, and imagined what the teens in the audience might be imagining happening to their friends, or to themselves.

This was just a day after my husband and I had a conversation about teachers buying bullet-proof vests to protect themselves, and school districts buying teachers miniature bats to use as weapons in an attack on their classroom. Do we send our teachers to school in riot gear? Do we send our students out into the streets to protest? Do we arm our classrooms with guns, with safe rooms, with security guards? Apparently, we do. Does our government protect our most vulnerable, or does it protect its "right to freedom"? Apparently, our ideals are more valuable than our future. 

As I stepped off the stage into the audience on Friday night, an audience member paused to tell me that as we were dancing, bombs were falling in Syria, sent by our government in retaliation to recent chemical weapons attacks on Syrian civilians by the Syrian government. My reaction was was one of shock- and yet, how could I be surprised? History repeats itself. But, as artists we do believe that our reactions and actions matter. Tomorrow, Sunday Apr. 15th, we'll close "Garden of Names". For those who saw it, I hope that it inspired you to think about your actions, your reactions, and your ability to imagine a world where our future is valued. Or, I hope you come to our last performance on Sunday to be inspired. 

- Molly Kay "La Bo" Stoltz


Molly Stoltz