Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Play Review - Fulton Street Sessions

Fulton Street Sessions was born from both the collaboration of free form improv sessions and the aftermath of the infamous, horrific winter storm of February 2011.  It is a collection of various skits that carry music as its common denominator while expressing sporadic emotions from across the board.  As I watched the play evolve I floated between “wanting to be a singer” to feelings that ranged from “selfishness” to “free love” within a matter of ten minutes.  I was within a state of stupor in wanting to lay low but then getting the urge to get up and join the cast.  All in all, the play accomplished its goal in entertaining, and entertain it did.

TUTA members Kirk Anderson, Jaimelyn Gray, Stacie Beth Green, Trey Maclin and Jacqueline Stone engineered the play with director Zeljko Djukic leading the cast.  For 85 minutes, the actors took the audience on a ride that depicted every element of life in its own shape, way or form.  The opening scene reflected the bizarre blizzard of last winter by displaying an exaggeration of both ignorance and fear alike.  With ignorance because even after three winters here, people still act surprised when it snows profusely during winter months (go figure) and with fear because there is always an elite group of folks, pantries stocked, who dare not leave their homes in the dead of winter.

There were acts of no rhyme, no reason – things that happen in life that don’t serve a purpose.  Why do we pay bills again?  Paper shuffle – what’s that about?  They paint a picture of such nuisances.  Acts of verbal dialogue – where random subjects are discussed, usually at the most impertinent of times.  Harmonious performances of rock, hymn chords, folklore music and a truly classic tune, in addition to the incorporation of various instruments connected the play together magically.

Music is power.  It compels every soul; we merely share different appreciation for different sounds.  That is its gift and watching this play confirmed what I believe to be so true and that is music brings people together.  Whether you are young, old, black or white – if a song touches your soul, it represents the very part of you that stirs up a forgotten memory or an emotion that may have been buried inside.  That is not something that can be said for many forms of art.

Overall, the simplicity of its backdrop with its ever-changing dramatic flow of settings created a play so grand.  The actors intertwined in their craft graciously. Their performance brought out each intended emotion based on the audience’s state of mind at the very time of each act.  It was about being real and letting it all out. 

If there’s one message you should leave with after watching Fulton Street Sessions it’s this:  life is all about letting go and ad-libbing along the way.  Let art move you and bring people together.  It creates harmony and peace in ways we may never understand and conceive its full potential unless we fear not.

If your emotions need re-charging, this play will complete its mission.

Fulton Street Sessions
Through March 25
TUTA at Chicago Dramatists
1105 W. Chicago Ave.
Tickets:  $30-40
1-800-838-3006 or

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Flames blaring

I grew up in the northwest side of Chicago and had witnessed quite a bit as a result.  I am not talking about the usual suspects:  brutal teasing, delayed puberty, feeling like an outcast, etc.  No, these things made my life normal.  I am referring to the lower-to-mid income families that shifted around from apartment to apartment, and trouble that always lurked nearby.  By the time I was a freshman in high school, I was asked to join a gang.  Then luck would have it that my homeroom partner would be a "gang banger", which gave me a way out, and in turn made me feel safe.  I was cool with that.

Junior year came - I landed my first job as a shampoo girl at a neighborhood salon.  This was during a time when hair stylists were still referred to as beauticians.  Sounded like an innocent profession to be among, but I learned quickly that I had seen nothing yet.  I witnessed my first experience of back stabbing.  Boom!  Down my back the pain struck, up my spine the chills inflicted, I had been de-virginized of trust in the workplace.  Damn, talk about being heartbroken because of someone I worked with, not by a boy I liked.  I didn't want to know how the latter felt.

This became a viscous cycle.  It was do or die.  Every man or woman for themselves.

Here's my deal:  I am done with the cruelty of man.  I am tired of being abused for my dedication or having my generosity mistaken for control and deceit.  When will the madness end? The flames still blare inside.  I am angry that someone I trusted took advantage of my eagerness and my ability to stand up for myself.  If I don't - who will?  They could never answer that, no one can but me.

I have slammed many doors in the past week, most due to frustration and to let off steam.  I started my vigorous dance class again in hopes of toning my body in case I get attacked in the face versus at my spirit.  One's spirit:  the worst part of your body to have broken.  It's the backbone of every element of your life.  It gives you motivation, passion and positive energy.  It keeps you moving forward and not back.  It's the battery lifeline in our soul that keeps the heart ticking and tocking.  I will get it back, I know I will.  In the end, no one is ever worth the grief of disappointment.

I look back often and ponder on my choices.  Changing my life career was a risk.  One that continues to be supported by my family, even when the risk has its doubts or when the light doesn't shine at the end. Then what is life without risks?  A safe one, at that - no challenges means no gusto and it also means the ones who like to push others down will win.  Not on my time.  In the past year, I have written several entries regarding my determination to fight onward, to prove my identity, to establish the truth that it is possible to be a mother and a wine professional.  Regardless of my bank account and my inability to fucking drink Chassagne Montrachet Grand Cru, Ch√Ęteau Cos d'Estournel or Aldo Conterno Barolo at my immediate disposal (never mind vintage access at this point).  If I have passion, if I have the will to try, I can fight this ugly battle in the industry I have chosen.  My motto moving forward:  I define myself by who I am and not by someone else's selfish and insecure actions.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call integrity.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Third position

It's third position, the unknown character
the one without the rules and sans lyrical
a different space and free to roam about
no questions asked and never any doubts
secluded, eluded, no alcohol is required
it's all about sincerity and owning the fire
there are no games or any time to lose
decisions don't exist, no answers to choose
"why" dissipates, the scenery is safe
letting go means you have what it takes
get on the train, the ride is serene
you'll get the message once you have seen
no note needed, your faith is the truth
thus carefully carries the soul of your youth