Once Upon A Time…

By on 25 March, 2016 in Sarah Thornton with 0 Comments

Irish Voices 2016“In the end, we’ll all become stories.” – Margaret Atwood

Last night, and very early this morning, I sat in the waiting room of the delivery wing of the hospital, anxiously awaiting the arrival of my nephew. When anticipating a new soul entering the world, we as humans seem to gravitate toward two basic behaviors: We circle the wagons and we comfort each other through stories. I watched other families and friends come and go from various delivery rooms. I heard laughter and children asking questions, and people making phone calls to update absent loved ones. In grateful awe, I watched the people who reached out or dropped everything to be with us and others like us as we sat together in the waiting room, many walls away from the source of the good news for which we were praying.

I listened as older women shared stories of the births of their own children, of the challenges of various labors they had heard about or experienced. I listened as younger women shared fears they had about future bridges they might cross. I listened as fathers (both new and old) shared with awe the beauty and strength they witnessed from the women inside those rooms. I began to imagine my family years from now, when we might be sharing our own story of the night Sean Patrick was welcomed to the fold.

The stories of the things we experience, of the blessings and the hardships, are the legacy we leave behind. They are the trail of breadcrumbs showing others who come after us that we were once here, that these things once happened, and we hope that our stories offer guidance those that follow us, protecting, informing, and comforting them in the steps they take.

This past weekend at the Playhouse, we presented Irish Voices, an evening of Irish readings and music. Coming from a proud Irish family, I was exposed early in life to my heritage and history. The Irish have a rich and difficult legacy, and the stories and songs and art created to share the experiences of our people are as varied as they are limitless. The hardships and battles, the triumphs, loves, and laughs can be shared over and over again through poetry and books and plays and songs. We are able to reconnect with our own history, rediscovering the strength and resilience of the blood that runs through our veins.

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, a beautiful play coming soon to the Cloverdale Playhouse, is the story of two sisters who lived through a century of tremendous challenge and change. We as the audience have the opportunity to participate in their true accounts of profound times in our shared national past. They tell us their stories as if we are sitting with them around the kitchen table, helping them prepare dinner, as old friends invited into their home. The play is the very essence of the oral tradition, of storytelling as a way of sharing the past in hopes of affecting the future. The audience will be moved by how history repeats itself, how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. Hopefully, the stories we hear in the play will open up a dialogue for how we can move forward, as we continue writing our own stories, as we grow together — as long as we are willing to listen.

Sarah Walker Thornton is the Artistic Director of the Cloverdale Playhouse, who walks like a New Yorker and waves like an Alabama girl. She is a product of a Montgomery arts education, with several years of life in NYC thrown in for extra flavor.

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