Online Hubbub: Let Me Down Easy, Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Which character was your favorite and why?

“My first impulse is to say Elizabeth Streb because her portrayal made me laugh at its outrageous humor, but Trudy Howell made me weep which is just as important.”—Jo F.

“Trudy Howell because she seemed to be spiritually committed and convinced of her mission with these children.  She respected those dying children and treated them with dignity and carefully ushered them on a holy passage to the other side.”—Claire P.

“Ann Richards because it was so out of the character of all the other people she played and it was done well.”—Karl H.

“I thought the Stanford Dean, Phil Pizzo, was spot on in his assessment of our deteriorating health care system.”—Sara

“The woman in Rwanda who knew that grace came from her and that it was the cornerstone of forgiveness to keep herself full of grace she forgave.  Similar to the amazing grace-filled Desmond Tutu and his book on forgiveness.”—Julia M.

“Most amusing: hard to pick between Katz and Richards.    I’m still trying to recover from all the really tough stories, so I can’t pick.”—John H.P.

“The Rwandan girl who is not at Stanford. What a range of life experiences in one short life. And, what depth of grace to not hold the hate. Amazing. And to think of what small pieces of “hate” we hold day to day. She, in my mind, more transmitted a sense of grace.”—Anne O.

“Doctor at Charity Hospital in New Orleans–memorable, learned a lot from her, very much from her heart.  Some characters were too much from a heady, intellectual place for me to feel their impact.”—j.s.

“Peter Gomes was perfect.  The English professor was very touching.  I liked the other black preacher, too.”—C. Thomas

“There were three characters who seemed to serve as bridges between my relatively secure white, middle class world of privilege and an edgier more uncertain place that can be both frightening and grace filled.  Each character was familiar enough to engage me thoroughly and then to pull me out into an utterly new experience.  I speak of Cheryl Diaz Meyer, Kiersta Kurtz-Burke and Peter Gomes–particularly as he spoke about death and dying.”—Kathy K.

Who else would you suggest that Anna interview in her ongoing exploration of grace?

“Jimmy Carter, Mos Def, Paul Mooney, Mrs. John Edwards, Mrs. Elliot Spitzer, Ruth Kennedy, Maya Angelou, K. D. Lang, Tupac Shakur’s mother, Yao Ming, Roland Gibson, Jr.”—Claire P.

“Nelson Mandela.”—Karl H.

“Princess Diana.”—Sara

“More American individuals. Perhaps someone on Death Row who has gone through a spiritual transformation. Other possibilities: disabled veterans, elderly individuals.”—Carolyn G.

“Since I’m an architect – I’d suggest she search out some people there.”—John H.P.

“Rev Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”—Anne O.

“Barack Obama; Deval Patrick; John McCain; Jon Lester (Red Sox pitcher/cancer survivor).”—j.s.
“What about a sculptor?  Or Oprah?  Or a fashion model (this on the body theme)?”—C. Thomas

“There are those who find grace in embracing the natural world–in cherishing the environment.  I think of young farmers making real the dream of sustainable agriculture, of people making conscious choices in what they purchase and what they eat.  I think of the poet Wendell Berry…”—Kathy K.

Have you experienced grace in your life?  How?

“Yes, from my child who was born with Down syndrome who died two years ago. He accepted his life with uncommon grace, saying when he faced one of his many challenges, ‘A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do’.”—Jo F.

“That I am alive another day.  All the moments of grace add up to that.”—Claire P.

“Yes.  My wife and I were looking for a teak platform bed.  We found one on Craig’s list and missed a beat and someone else called the owner first.  We were coming to the play and knew we could go by and look at the bed afterwards and the man kept it for us and we were able to see it, love it and put a down payment on it.  Grace.”—Karl H.

“Yes, in therapy.”—Sara

“I am an active member of a 12 step recovery program and have been for many years. I have learned to give back to my community, help people in trouble and it has transformed my life, enhanced my abilities as a poet and community activist.”—Carolyn G.

“I have; by loving with my whole spirit, mind and body the peoples of the world. I only see it in flashes but I know it is the way the world will be in harmony though the harmonic of love that grace slides on between us all.”—Julia M.

“Seeing a once-abused cat now full of life is one of the ways I experience grace.  Receiving birthday greetings from colleagues in learning is another.”—John H.P.

“My greatest experience is in the depth of compassion felt by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The compassion he has for the people who have not only taken his country and virtually destroyed their culture, but he holds no hate or anger against the Chinese for the many many Tibetans killed, imprisoned and tortured. He also does not know how to hold the hate or the anger. True grace.”—Anne O.

“Certainly. Every day. I’m just not always wise enough and alert enough to recognize it.”—j.s.

“Grace comes to me when I’m not looking for it.  Suddenly, a sense of peace, a sense that everything is beautiful, including me.”—C. Thomas

“Indeed I have.  When my husband died eight years ago family members, friends and even strangers somehow wove a net of love and safety around me that still graces my life today.”—Kathy K.

“Grace is an unexpected smile or kind word in the midst of adversity.  Grace is silence and an open heart to truly hear what another is saying.”—Donna L.

Other comments?

“I thought this was journalism trying to become a play and not succeeding.”—Bill

“I suppose I would like Anna to explore the life of people who struggle every day with mental disabilities. They are far more eloquent than anyone would expect. I have experienced pure unvarnished wisdom from my son and others who are considered defective by society.”—Jo F.

“Too many vignettes, imitations not good enough, play did not move me.” –ed s.

“Though the play was very good in terms of energy, it needs a fair amount of editing. I particularly found this to be true when Ms. Deavere Smith was dealing with the Rwanda crisis, felt less commentary was needed. Additionally, the play is currently too long.”—Carolyn G.

“Thank whomever; God or the gods or Buddha or Mohammad for Anna Deavere Smith.  She channels the wisdom of the world much like another hero of mine Buckminster Fuller.   I am so moved by her.  This time I brought my son for him to hear so he can experience the “POWER; POWER; POWER” of Grace.  I did love the Reverend also.   Thank you again.”—Julia M.

“I thank Anna for opening our eyes and hearts to the power of the human soul.”—Anne O.

“Was curious about why A. D. S. included as many intellectual characters as she did. They seemed to be less memorable than many characters in her earlier productions in which emotion was more predominant, and more impactful.”—j.s.

“I loved the show.  ADS is an amazing actor!”—C. Thomas

“Thank you for the gift of your work.”—Kathy K.

“I do not think that ART should present “works in progress” except at “works-in-progress” prices and with a clear indication in the pre-publicity that it IS a work in progress. Had I known that, I would have waited until the playwright had sufficiently thought through and finished the work.”—S.L.S.

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