Sunday, May 14, 2006

Critical thinking

Now, about the play. I saw it twice – front row, back row. The audience laughed and cried. One night I turned to the woman on my right and saw tears streaming down her face. The power of words. Sometimes the lines I thought would draw a laugh, didn’t. And lines that were more enigmatic, did. Go figure. I also got to hang out with the actors and my favorite director and playwright. Everyone was psyched about this show. Well, not everyone. Read on.

The power of words. That’s what this blog is all about.

Did I tell you that my daughter’s a writer? The Muse came to visit when she was just a toddler and decided to stay. This has been both a blessing and a curse. It’s a bit like Tree’s amazing talent. It’s a gift that keeps on giving and never lets a person rest.

Jenn’s mind is usually on overdrive. She is constantly thinking about Life (capital “L” again) and its many manifestations. Add to that, kids and dogs underfoot, a narcoleptic and loving husband, and a house that is constantly in need of attention. I’ve decided to treat her to the cranberry storm door, but that’s another story.

The play seemed to be going well but Jenn seemed anxious all week. Just like good drama, she was waiting for the denouement – the passing judgment of the local critic. This guy supposedly has some credentials and knows what he’s doing. Is being a theatre critic like going to med school? I think not. At least in med school you take the Hippocratic oath and promise to do no further harm. If there is a school of film critics, I think they teach the hypocritic oath – find the most tender part of the writer’s anatomy (usually the brain) and stick a needle in. The power of words.

Jenn lives by words. As an artist, she is so sensitive of what she writes and what she reads. Her energy and ideas are transmitted through the painstaking crafting of words. She is invested in her product. She is, actually, her own worse critic. She cannot not write. The power of words.

The review was not good. Jenn read the first line and would not read the rest. I, in super-protective mother mode, ventured ahead and read the entire piece. My heart sank. The power of words.

Even if she were not my daughter, I would have disagreed with this guy’s point of view. But he’s on somebody’s payroll and has credentials and is entitled to his opinion too. The power of words.

I wanted to make it better, but could not. David and friends consoled her but I knew the review had an impact; hopefully, it was just a glancing blow. The power of words.

This is her craft, her art. It takes courage to write and then to have what you’ve written displayed onstage. It requires a giant leap of faith. And Jenn, who is a kind and generous spirit, is a trustworthy soul. She is also a trouper, my kid. She believes in her work and was so happy with this show’s cast and the beautiful and funny and poignant ways they brought her words to life. That’s why the review seemed so unfair. The power of words.

I am always in awe of her gift. She tells stories of the common man and woman. They sometimes make you squirm and wince, but the dark humor always leads to naked truth and, if you look hard enough, you will see yourself or someone you know in Jenn’s funhouse mirror. My girl never takes the easy way out. She goes deep. And I’m proud of her for that. Jenn makes you think. She’s definitely not a 30-minute sitcom, “slam, bam, thank-you ma’am” kind of gal. The power of critical thinking.

Jenn’s writing reminds me of Flannery O’Connor. I had to read some of O’Connor’s work in a college lit class, actually it was a religion course. At first, some of the more outrageous characters seemed so strange and shocking but, slowly, I tuned into their struggles. They were (like all of us) seeking redemption of one kind or another. There was grace to be found among the ruins.

So, on this Mother’s Day and on this blog, here’s to you my dear daughter. I watched you scribble as a child and later begin page after page of stories and pictures, always telling such imaginative and colorful tales. You were born to write, Jenn. You have stories and characters yet to be conceived. And those you've already birthed have been lovingly tended. You’re a darn good mother!

The show was terrific.


kirsty said...

With genes like hers, she WAS born to write! :)

Simon said...

So glad that she's stronger than a single bad review. Heck, she's stronger than a million monkeys sitting at keyboards typing out nothing but bad reviews.

Those bad review would consist of nothing but, "poinseoin oqi4j [09sd-09ua ae0ijt qjap[9sdrgu a"... but you get the point.

Looking forward to hearing about the storm door!

Tree said...

Oh, I'm angry!
I loved the play. It touched was was beautiful. And if I wasn't in love with your daughter, I'd say the same.Jenn is lucky to have such caring soul as yourself an David around her when something like that happens. To make her see what is true, and what is undeserved.
The play was wonderful.

Tosha said...

Oh these silly mother day blogs, makes me wanna cry! At least I get to see my mom this Thursday, yay! Great post, I love you and your daughter, even if its only through blog. Keep it up *sniff*

geogirl said...

Well, it's obvious where her writing gene comes from. Now, if she inherited your strength and spunk as well she should have no problem getting over it.

Kudos to both Mamas on this Mothers day.

p.s. - what's the critics name? I'll kick his ass!!

Jenn said...

Happy Mama's Day, Mama. Thank you for this. I love you.

Cathy said...

Living in Virginia, I didn't get to go see the play. If I lived near Jenn, I would have gone because I like the way she writes her blog -- I also like the way you write yours :).

Some Critics (yes, I capitalized it on purpose) take their title a little too intently and think they must criticize even if there is nothing needing their prejudiced opinion. Growing up, there was one Critic for our local paper who took herself and her position so seriously we knew if she blasted a play, a movie, anything, we should immediately go out and see it because her taste and judgment were warped by her desire to be THE Critic.

I hope Jenn continues to write (I'm sure she will). I also hope that one of her plays becomes so incredibly famous it is seen worldwide and she can laugh in the Critic's face.

LadySeduction said...

Hey, thanks for coming by my site! yay comments are the BEST!!
Jenn is one of my most favorite people, she inspired me to blog and begin actually writing again with her lovely encouragement.
I love the perspective of reading you both as well as your amazing wisdom that stands alone.

The Mater said...

Thanks, all of you for such supportive words! I think Jenn's gonna be okay with such positive and protective energy surrounding her.

A couple quotes that seem to fit ...

"The applause of a single human being is of great consequence." Samuel Johnson

"A little praise goes a great ways." Ralph Waldo Emerson

geogirl said...

...I still wanna kick his ass.

ChristyD said...

She was definitely born to write. I am so ticked that I live in Texas and can't see the play! I hope the cranberry storm door takes the sting out of things for her. Happy belated Mother's Day.