STATEMENT ARTS- "The World Art Project"

The World Art Project blog is a forum dedicated to helping Katrina Victims share the experience and journey of a group of Professional Actors, Singers and Performers who traveled to the Gulf Coast to help uplift the spirits of those surviors. Our hope is to provide insight, knowledge and offer way for readers to get involved and help in forms of Donations, support or expression of opinions and feelings.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Day 1's Show...

Our first performance was Wednesday night in the Morrell Foundation's feeding tent. It is just that...a giant tent with a wood-chip covered floor and 3 rows of folding chairs and tables, a makeshift trailer kitchen and a serving line which uses portable plastic hot boxes to keep the food "hot". Donated supplies are stocked everywhere. The plates are styrofoam to-go containers and Dora the Explorer paper bowls and cups. Bright orange, pink or blue plasticware are at the end of the line. But what this lacks in charm, it more than makes up for in love and generosity of spirit. These dedicated, wonderful people work so hard to create meals for the volunteers who are from all over. Church groups from Tennessee, individuals from California, a Jewish group from Minnesota...some who are here for a week at a time while others have moved their entire families here for the last 3 months, home schooling their children and giving them a very different kind of education about the indomitable human spirit in the process.

When we arrived for the show there were very few folks here at first. I was concerned about whether this would all be a bust with no audience. The thought that maybe we were wrong about this flashed through my mind more than once. Sarah Hamilton and Liza Politi who organized this all never seemed to doubt the power of what we were doing. That amazed me and both encouraged me and made me more nervous! Either they were dreamers with the incredible talent to make those dreams a reality or they were nuts!! I was hoping for the former but feared the latter.

We tried to gather a few more folks from the building that the Morrell brothers had built for the volunteers to sleep in and then it was time.

As people got their dinner and sat down, we gathered to sing. Folks were looking at us rather warily...trying to figure out what this group of performers from NYC were going to do. Well, here it was...the make it or break it moment.

Connie, our friend from the liquor store, had shown up and before I knew it, Liza had her up singing our first song, "Deck the Halls", with us. I took this as my cue to begin getting "volunteers" to come up. When I saw anyone singing along, I jumped into the audience, took them by the hand and brought them up front to sing with us. There were some teenagers who got nabbed early on. After I got two of them, another girl came walking up on her own from the back of the room. It was working!!! The faces of the everyone in the room changed. Smiles abounded. When we hit "Rudolph", I headed straight for a 5 year girl called Natalie who I had met earlier. And she was a star!

Before I knew it, we had about 10 audience members up front, singing with us. Obviously, Liza and Sarah knew exactly what they were doing. There were maybe 50 or so folks there but it felt like more. Song after song, we had people coming up and joining us and even those who chose not to come up, were singing along. For that hour, people forgot about the tragedies they were seeing and experiencing day after day. There was this incredible release throughout the tent. We became this amazing community.

By the time we did our now infamous "12 Days of Christmas", complete with hand motions, everyone was on their feet, joining in with the Morrell brothers doing a solo on the 5 Golden Rings moment! The energy in the room was beyond description. This was an evening I was not soon going to forget.

Throughout the evening I had tried to get Natalie's friend Colby to join us. Colby is an eight year old boy who had made it abundantly clear over and over that there was no way he would come up. Natalie came up to join us on the last song and she leaned in to tell me that Colby wanted to come up for the last song. Well that was all I needed to hear. Off I went to get Colby and sure enough, he was happy to join us. I leaned over to both Natalie and Colby to tell them that the song was "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and was informed by Colby that of course he knew that. He was a pro and needed no help from me! *grin*

When all was said and done, it was one of the best performances I can remember doing in years. All the mad scrambling to put this together and worries of whether it would "work" or not were gone. People who an hour earlier were strangers were giving us hugs and thanking us for coming. Telling us how much this meant to them.

Some are even seeking out our other performances! What an amazing experience this is turning into and this was only the first performance!

If you build it, they will come!


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