Theater Rituals Creating Community

There is no magic quite like that of an empty theater. There are smells, textures, curtains and sawdust, a million shades of black painted over a million other colors that came before. There is expectant silence, and twilight sleepiness. Saying goodbye to an empty theater is akin to tucking a child into bed in the soft glow of night lights, knowing you will leave before she wakes up.

My place of magic was The Beverly Arts Center, a theater space used by various community theater groups on the south side of Chicago. I was a chorus child, an oddball, a laughing extra in period costume and sausage curls created by a neighbor’s mom. I loved every minute of it.

A community theater would perform A Christmas Carol like clockwork every year. It’s where I learned to harmonize to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” while simultaneously learning the ins and outs of theater love, life, and lore. It was Cassie who pushed me out in the snow to do a ritualistic anti-curse when I said the name of the Scottish play without knowing any better (Dear Lord now I know). It’s where Christmas Present gave me a Jiminy Cricket good luck charm and Joe was a jolly Bob Cratchit and the stage manager let us eat the turkey prop after the show if we kids weren’t too annoying in the green room. It’s where a small group of friends bonded over silly tricks and broken hearts, stolen kisses backstage and a brother chipping off his sister’s nail polish.

It was community.

Community theater isn’t quite like any other kind of theater. There’s a switch in priorities, a love, a group bonding over something we would do for free, again and again and again. It means family, loyalty, laughter and support. It means bear hugs after the curtain goes down, story telling at a bar, and the knowledge these people will love you unconditionally as long as you don’t ever skip strike or act like a diva.

It was in this magical place where I felt loved, wanted and accepted. Religious tradition stresses the importance of breaking bread together. Surviving tech week together is a slightly more intense yet equal equivalent.

It’s been a long time since I was able to partake in this crazy Christmas tradition, but every time I hear “Carol of the Bells”, I feel a piece of the magic come back again. The bells remind me that during that special time God really did bless us, every one.

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5 Ways to Give More Love This Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is often turned into something commercial, but at its heart, Valentine’s Day is about sharing as much love as you can. So, here is a list of five ways you can give more love this Valentine’s Day:

  1. Attend a V-Day show. V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Their shows, put on all over the world this month include “The Vagina Monologues” and “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” by Eve Ensler. You can find shows near you using their handing V-Spot locator. The shows make great dates, and fun self-love gifts.
  2. When you give your loved ones gifts from Heifer International for Valentine’s day, not only do you get the “aww” factor of looking at the cute faces of cows, sheep, and chicks, but you also get to help end world poverty and hunger. You get to give a gift to someone you know and someone you have never met.  Now that’s a lot of love.
  3. Send someone you love and e-card from Scarleteen this year and you share more than just your feelings. Scarleteen provides young people essential information on sexuality, love and sexual health. A gift to Scarleteen means you are helping young people make better choices about who to love and how to share that love. Plus, you might learn a tip or two for your own love life.
  4. If you want to really share the love this Valentine’s day, then One Family Honduras should be your Valentine. One Family Honduras helps one family at a time in Gracias,  Honduras to get access to excellent education.  You donation helps adorable kids like Karla, Ada, Sergio, and Stefani gain knowledge that will change their futures.
  5. Want a gift that keeps on giving and gives back? Well then Kiva is your way to give more this Valentine’s day. Give your loved ones $25 Kiva cards and they can choose how to share that love with people around the world. When the loan is repaid, you can give it to someone else. Talk about a chain of love!

If you still want more ways to share your love check out our Spare Change page. We all have wisdom and love to share, so go ahead…

 MAKE YOUR LOVE GLOBAL