For my birthday, my lovely husband, Christian, got me a pass to the 2019 New York Musical Festival. We saw a matinee of “Illuminati Lizards from Outer Space” (Because with a silly title and premise, how could we not?) and a few hours later I saw “Ladyship” on my own, then we met up in Foley Square for the Lights for Liberty vigil.
Both shows were on Theater Row at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, a gorgeous, accessible space with a big open cafe/bar and lots of varied seating.
At Illuminati, a lovely woman named Doris was escorted to the single seat next to me. We quickly struck up a conversation as I helped her with her things. Doris is elderly and has trouble seeing, holds a PhD in communications and lives in Jackson Heights! So close to us! She hadn’t heard of QED but was delighted to hear all about it and asked for a card or brochure. Sadly, I didn’t have any as I packed light for my 12 hour day walking around the city, but I scribbled down my phone number since she doesn’t do email or the internet. ?
Doris has macular degeneration and said it was all happening very quickly so she’ll be completely blind soon.“But I’m here!” She said. “Yes, you are! You showed up!” I read to her bits of the program –the premise of the show, some of the other programs at the festival, etc.– and then it was showtime!
Illuminati Lizards from Outer Space was silly and fun, funny and cringe-y, smart and dumb, good and bad in the way a new musical with that title should be. Conspiracy theories, lizard people living amongst us, the Illuminati…all sounds pretty dumb, huh? And yet…well, here we are! We laughed a lot, Doris was delighted by the show. “The best thing I’ve ever seen!” and we said our goodbyes. I don’t know if she’ll call me, but I’m glad to have shared a very brief moment in her long life.
Christian and I parted ways, I had a treat at Pinkberry between shows and then returned to see Ladyship about Irish sisters condemned to the Penal Colony of Australia during the 1780s and sent on a 10+ month journey across the ocean. Bleak, to put it mildly! Well acted with lovely costuming and staging.
After the show, I headed down to Foley Square for Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants.
Christian joined me and a friend Valerie. It was lovely and we ran into our friend Eric whom we hadn’t seen in a while. But we wondered what good this vigil does, really? Trump and his followers are ramping up racism, rhetoric and hate and show no signs of stopping. I fear where we are headed. Will a vigil matter? I don’t know, but I don’t want to be a person that doesn’t speak up in the face of wrong.
As Martin Luther King has said:
— “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
— “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
–“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
So I spoke by showing up to the vigil. My new and short friendship with Doris taught me that showing up –being present– is the most important part. This might not change anything…
But I’m here! Yes, I am! I showed up!