Adventures in NYC Theater: “Fun Home” and “Nirbhaya”

I have been a lucky woman these past few weeks, getting to see not one but two NYT critics picks:  Fun Home and Nirbhaya.

Fun Home is based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir by the same name.  Taking its title from the setting–the kids’ sobriquet for the family’s funeral home–the protagonist works to find her identity as a lesbian with a closeted father.  While their home seems like the perfect suburban setting, it instead is a home festering with untruths and derision.  I adored the text and wondered how on earth the Broadway show would compare.  Smartly, they eliminated all of the heady literary allusions of the memoir and focused on the characters, specifically the three women who play Alison at different points in her life, all of whom have been nominated for Tony awards.  The New York Times loved it, and when I read this sentence, I could not wait to see it (along with 50 Kutztown students!)

I can’t think of a recent musical — or play, for that matter — that has done a better job at finding theatrical expression for the wayward dynamics of remembering. That includes the now-you-see-now-you-don’t-aspect of David Zinn’s inspired in-the-round set, in which furniture materializes through trapdoors, as well as the ruthless clarity and sudden, obscuring dimness of Ben Stanton’s lighting.

By playing with time and space, the director and producer have made a brand new text that can only be described as “perfect,” the word I exclaimed to my colleague the moment the show ended.  The storytelling, the acting, the music:  perfect.  I am glad I live in a world where such a story is the hottest ticket in town.  And I am glad I got to see it at the beginning of its run.

My post-show reading about Fun Home led me to a review of another NYT Critic Pick, Nirbhaya.  Taking its title from the rallying cry against violence against women in the streets of India, this show showcases the true stories of six actresses who endured variations on an awful theme:  sexual violence.  Pieced together with the haunting singing of the ghost of Jyoti Singh, the six women tell of partner and stranger rape, incest, burning, mutilation.  The audience–which should have been much more numbered–barely breathes from the mist and the stories and the relentlessness of Jyoti’s song tying all of the women together. The show only runs through this week, so I am writing my weekly post today to get the word out:  see this show.  It matters more than anything else.  Bearing witness to these women’s stories will help us all work to dismantle violent practices.  And if you can’t get to see it, watch this clip to get a sense of what these women are doing every night.

Here’s another clip of their show in Ireland:

While these two shows and their protagonists seem so different–a woman in India, a woman in suburban Pennsylvania–I couldn’t help but leave the past two weeks thinking about how much one’s story matters.  Both shows have the artist, the creator, onstage creating while the play is happening:  Alison is drawing, Jyoti is singing.  The desire, no, THE NEED, to express one’s voice from one step in front of or one step beyond the grave makes these two women emblems of voice, of story, of humanity.  Their bodies bear the scars that manifest into their art.  I find myself even more convinced that words matter, that we need to tell our stories if we are ever going to figure out how to make sure everyone can live in this world without enduring psychic harm to our souls.

See one.  See them both.  Or go read a story.  Someone has something to tell you today.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Standardized Testing

How testing harms children

Lay's Thoughts

Feminist Theory

TEACHING FEMINISM

A blog about how to talk to and teach high schoolers about feminism

Reflections for Educators

A website for using the Reflections series in the classroom

Small Town Feminist

Thoughts and comments from a college feminist living in a small town.

2016 Presidential Election: Women's and Gender Issues

"Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance." — Kofi Annan

Rise Up Doylestown!

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

KU Postcolonial Theory and Texts: Spring 2017

“Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. ... Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.” Edwidge Danticat

Site Title

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

Her Road Less Traveled

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

Teaching Acceptance

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” Gloria Steinem

Anne Imschwei blog

If a man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears however measured or far away." Thoreau

Jinn's Blog

“There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do.” ― Anaïs Nin

A Postcolonial Something

"Every empire, however, tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate." -Edward Said

PostColonial Minds

An exploration of ongoing struggles

Heather's Post-Colonialism Page

I have no idea what I am doing, and that's ok.

LGBT Non-Profit Internship

WGS 390: Internship in Women's and Gender Studies

Inside 254

Come inside & chat

%d bloggers like this: