25 October 2009

Artistic Impressions

The Museum... was very difficult for me to be in. I felt a sense of awe and then a sense of not belonging. When I walked into the Museum and saw the dog tags hanging my heart sank and I immediately put up a wall. I chose to view it as if I was a foreigner looking at an important cultural artifact such as a pot or a doll. "That must've meant something to someone at sometime I thought." I found that I looked at the blank walls more than I did the art. The blank spaces, made up of concrete and shadows, put me at ease. "What's that about?"

When the rehearsal started I looked for any excuse to leave the room.
I ran to the car.
Went for a smoke.
Used the bathroom four times.
Passed blank spaces frequently.
Coming back from the bathroom, I wanted to place my hand on the cement wall. I could tell it would feel cold. I didn't. Scared someone would see me and be all, "Whatever." So I went back in the elevator. Pushed the warm plastic button: 3rd floor. Watched them rehearse the play. Went home and was numb. That evening when I was all alone I cried. The wall I put up fell. And what I saw were those same blank walls.

I called my dad and I told him to not say no, but to think about what I was going to say. He listened. I asked him if he wanted to go to this retreat for Vets that was happening in Denver this summer with this great lady playwright I met named Lisa. He said, "#$^%, no." I said, "Hold on a sec, I don't need the answer now. I just want you to think about it. Stay open. We'll talk about it again when I come up for Christmas." There was a pause. The cold cement. The silence. Then he said,"Alright Kid, I'll stay open."

I don't know if he will go. I don't know if he will leave the mountain he lives on for that length of time. I do know for right now until christmas, I can see some of him on that wall.

Written by Dana Lynn Formby, playwright of Armed with Peanut Butter, impressions after her Open Rehearsal at the National Veterans Art Museum, Chicago, preparing for the Vet Art Project Chicago's Veterans Day performance at DePaul University.

Note: The retreat to which she refers is a Soldier's Heart Retreat with Edward Tick, author of War and the Soul. Details on this and other retreats are available at soldiersheart.net