Actor, Puppeteer, and Teaching Artist

Herein Will I Imitate the Sun

My extended cardiac pause at the end of last year was cause for reflection, which I think most folks would find pretty common. That period of reflection combined with a political environment running so hard against what I believe to be my and my broader community’s best interests left me reeling a bit. Is this political moment a call to more explicit political action? How can I improve the community in a more direct way? And how do I define that community in this new place?

My love of telling stories (and hearing stories) has so little impact on the day-to-day lives of most folks. There is massive value in bringing beauty to people, but spending so much time and capital on it has always left a little itch about whether or not I could be doing more or better with my time and skills.

And when that party’s through, here’s what you need to do
Just hold that mic right to your heart and hear the beat of you
-Saul Williams – PG

The answer of course, is of course I can.

The reasoned response to what I consider the political hurricane, is to make sure your house is sound and that as many people in your community are safe in their house or yours. That no one is left out in it. There may be catharsis in shouting at the storm, but you’re better off making sure the basement isn’t flooding.

Knowing that I wanted to do something that had a more direct impact on my community didn’t give me any more idea what that thing might be.

Then friend, and fellow recent Twin Cities invader, Kate Powers asked if I would join the board of the Redeeming Time Project, a program she is forming to bring Shakespeare to offenders in Minnesota correctional facilities. I loved the idea. I have long been a fan of Kate’s work with Rehabilitation Through the Arts and my broad experience in theatre, education and community building would be of particular use in getting this sort of program off the ground here in Minnesota.

Then Kate followed that up with asking if I would consider being a teaching artist with the Redeeming Time Project. I had had an inkling she might ask and was going to say no, because… work… rehearsals… the time… the lack of experience…

But I didn’t.
I said yes.
I’m probably the only person who was surprised at the turn of events. But I was.

And so in the next few weeks Kate and I will be headed inside to teach a group of men in a Minnesota facility how much life you can find in 400 year old verse. And I’m terrified and excited… which is how I generally know I’m making the right choice.

But I need the help of my existing community to help bring these men, and more men in the future, into a broader community. It costs about $2500 per session to run these workshops, and the Redeeming Time Project has no startup capital. We are asking our tribe to donate here.

We need your financial help, but it’s as important for us, and by extension the offenders taking part in the program, to have a solid base of allies outside those walls. This fundraising campaign is designed very specifically to make you part of the Project. Our desire is not to just have donors, but to have stakeholders in a Project that we want to bring to as many facilities in Minnesota as we can. We want very much for you as stakeholders to share in the successes we encounter and in lessons we learn through the challenges. We want our RTP tribe to join in the reflections we ask the men to do. We want to be accountable after each workshop.

We are trying to bring beauty, empathy and hope into those walls, so that when those offenders return home they bring those seeds with them.
Bring beauty where you can and grow it wherever you can shine a little light, it’s a start for me toward using my abilities for something more.

Will you join me?


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