A few years ago I took a semester to study abroad in Spain. On returning, I realized that my circles of friends at school had found other friends and created new worlds that no longer included me in them. I felt alone and isolated until I heard that a family member of mine had committed suicide. Not that that helped my own feelings but I realized that there are a lot of people out there who also feel isolated and our obsession in how we communicate through technology is not helping that state of mind.
My concern expanded beyond my own personal life when the Boston marathon shooting happened. I began hearing so much about gun control and new laws that should be enforced in schools and at home but I couldn’t help feeling that this wasn’t the core issue. It seemed like a sugar coated argument that helped to distract us from a cause that would take much more commitment to change than simply taking a gun out of our hands.
I believe that the tragic stories of random shootings we hear across the country may reduce if we can find a way to connect more deeply and feel a stronger responsibility for the people around us. Cross the Line is an attempt at breaking down the wall to encourage such connections.
All of the stories in our show come from live interviews. We have worked to stage these stories as truthfully as theatrically possible. Some of the characters may even be recognized as people our audiences have come across around DC or Northern Virginia. They range from day to day life stories to elaborate court cases. Our devising style allows a raw feeling of play that will engage the audience in the process of telling these stories. We also have music that has been written specifically for the production by Virginia musician, Michael Mattice.
In rehearsals, we have had many discussions about how race, gender and social class have played into the outcome of these stories. Our discussions have gotten me to wonder about what makes people connect and whether we can truly have an altruistic interaction with another human.
I’ve learned that people don’t often like telling these types of stories because they are intimate and can take away from the precious nature of them.
On a more concrete level, it’s difficult to add theatricality to day-to-day life stories so we’re learning to add dance and visually intriguing staging in order to captivate the audience.
I want the audience to leave encouraged to break down their comfort zone the next time they are presented with the opportunity to help someone. I want them to see every interaction as a potential story and pursue it in such a way. I want them to not be afraid to listen and act.
Cross the Line is onstage in The Shop – Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave NW,Washington, DC 20001
Performances are: July 11 at 7:45 pm.; July 12 at 2:30 pm.; July 15 at 10 pm.; July 20 at 6:15 p.m.
July 22 at 8 p.m. and July 25 at 6 pm
Details and tickets or call 866-811-4111.
— Guest writer, Jenna Selby, is the director of Cross the Line. She brings her theatre experience from Southern California where she has focused passionately on theatre for social justice and how to incorporate theatre into classrooms.