I spent the past two months directing Romeo and Juliet at a high school, as part of Portland Playhouse's Fall Festival of Shakespeare. We closed last weekend, after three performances at their school and a culminating event at the Winningstad Theatre in downtown Portland, as part of a two-day marathon of eight high schools performing in rapid succession, laughing for each other, crying with each other, and cheering each other on. The following Monday, I met with my students for a final time, for all of us to share some feedback on the experience of making a play together, in the context of eight high schools and a collaborative process. After breaking the ice with some general remarks like "it was really fun" and "I'm going to miss you guys so much," one brave student shared with us how her sister had died when she was twelve, and ever since then, she had felt like she could never be herself and didn't fit in anywhere -- until this experience, where she found a family and a support system where she felt safe and loved and accepted for who she was. This story spurred a slew of honest sharing that tended to fall into three categories: stories about loss/pain and finding hope again, stories about what "family" means, and stories about finding a sense of belonging. My Shakespeare students created a stunning piece of art beyond their age and experience. And, through creative collaboration, they learned lessons about trust, friendship, acceptance, hope, and support.
Salt and Sage is pressing forward, through our Sex Tragedy Reading Series, The Twelve Dates of Christmas, and then to Great Falls in January. Asae is a work horse, accomplishing more than seems humanly possible, and I'm doing what I can to keep up. Sometimes, it feels like far too much. But I know there are things much bigger than me at work in this art we create. I witnessed them in my students this fall, and I feel them when I dive into acting, the art I love.