Last Thursday after a delicious dinner at The Bristol Downtown (AKA-Green Chili Wonton Bliss) I walked into Actors Theatre of Louisville with my dear brother-friend Josh excited to see The Thin Place, one of six shows running for the 43rd Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, through April 7th.
We got there early, ready to pick up our tickets & be seated before the majority of the crowd rolled in. But, after grabbing a quick drink & stopping by the box office we discovered that I had written down the wrong curtain time & it was now two minutes past the final seating time. No exceptions.
After the self-directed frustration & embarrassment passed, the Actors team awesomely exchanged my Thin Place press tickets for the other show that evening…The Corpse Washer.
I’m not going to lie. That tile didn’t thrill me. It conjured images in my head that I didn’t know what to do with. I had no context for the show & hadn’t read any advanced press on the six festival shows to prevent unfair bias prior to viewing.
The word “corpse” just made me uncomfortable…which is hard to do.
I was quickly reminded that it is sometimes good to be uncomfortable. After all, when we encounter people, places & things that point to things we don’t love to engage, don’t understand, or have no frame of reference for, we have the opportunity to be challenged, to grow, & to learn. Those are all good things.
If we let them be.
So, we took our seats in the Bingham Theatre unsure of what was coming but open to it.
When the lights fell on the final scene there was complete silence, followed by an explosion of applause which quickly settled into a second silence as we exited the theatre, all processing the experience we had just shared.
The Corpse Washer submerged us into the life a family, in a place, within circumstances completely foreign to the majority of us. It showed us the human side of war. War that we live through with relatively little impact on our daily lives unless we have family members or friends in the Armed Forces, work in an industry impacted by the economics of conflict, or pay attention to the connection between current events & fluctuating gas prices.
Ridiculous first world problems.
Arash Mokhtar gives a stunning performance as Jawad, a young man growing up in the grip of conflict, both called & forced into repeated sacrifices at the expense of dreams.
The full cast submitted to the sorrow of the truths of the world they brought to life & guided us to fight for hope & relent to grieve with them through the story.
Great theatre does that. It doesn’t allow you to consume a narrative & leave unchanged or unchallenged.
So, go & be changed by this piece. It will be good for you.
In fact, make it a goal to see all six shows in the Humana Festival of New American Plays & tell everyone you know to do the same. The future of American theatre is in Louisville & you have a chance to be part of it.