I'm sure my sister will forgive me for stealing her blog title. And picture. I'm sure my mom will forgive both of us for using her poster and the title of her new play on our blogs. But I wanted to write something about it anyway.
Twenty years ago my mom was cast in Steel Magnolias with a handful of other ladies from the community and the local college. The play was presented at Casper College, where my mom worked, and was directed by one of her dearest friends, Gretchen Wheeler. I was a student at Casper College at the time, and a few of my friends were involved with the show as well. From what I remember, the show was very good and well received in the community, but the most remarkable thing about this play was not the production itself. It's what happened after the play was over. Amazingly, the women in this play have continued to get together every year since the play was produced 20 years ago. Their get-togethers have included annual Christmas parties and a trip to Natchitoches, LA, where Steel Magnolias is set. Coincidentally, they have started calling themselves the "Magnolias."
As you can imagine, 20 years will bring a lot of life changes, and those changes are shared between friends as stories. During one of their gatherings, they decided to integrate some of those stories into a play. I can just imagine this conversation taking place. I've been involved in similar conversations, when a comment or incident will stoke the fires of a great idea, only to watch the enthusiasm fade away as life's circumstances crowd out creative space and the resilience necessary to invest in an endeavor that requires more than mere enthusiasm. Fortunately, this project involved four women who see things through until they are completed. They would get together and share their stories, discuss them, and consolidate them into a cohesive script. This process took approximately 4 years.
The play, which they named What Were We Talking About?, served two purposes. One purpose was to express the importance of story and friendship in processing life's good and bad moments. In that regard, the play was a walking testimony of the very thing it was trying to communicate: four friends who supported each other, held each other accountable and overlooked their differences for a common goal.
The other purpose of the play was to raise money for DEBRA, an organization dedicated to supporting families of children with EB. My niece, Ella, was born with the devastating disease, and her story is featured prominently in the play. I don't want to speak out of turn here, but to date the play has raised funds that greatly exceeded anyone's expectations. As is the case with many of my mom's projects, this story is still being written.
Since this is a blog, this post would not be complete without a list. Here are my take-aways from my mom's play:
- Friendship should be a vital part of everyone's life. It isn't just a matter of convenience or happenstance; it's equipment for living ((I borrowed this phrase from Kenneth Burke)).
- Social Networking is not necessarily the same as friendship.
- You don't really believe in something unless you get some skin in the game ((I borrowed this phrase from Bob Goff)). If you want to make a difference, it will come at a cost: time, effort, pride, money. The Difference Mobile doesn't run on air.
- If you're going to take a risk, take it doing something real ((I borrowed this idea from Steven Pressfield)). Don't tweet to the world that you want to write a play. Write the play then tweet that you've finished it.
Seeing mom's play come to life on stage with her friends was a great way to start our vacation in Wyoming. More than that, I'm sure it will be the beginning of many other things, as well.