water runs through it

SATURDAY NIGHT a troop of friends and acquaintances (12 of us in all ) convened at the Kirk Douglas Theatre to take part in the DouglasPlus run of three one-act monologues —Trieu Tran‘s “Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam”, Roger Guenveur-Smith‘s, “Rodney King” and Luis Alfaro‘s “St. Jude.”

It’s been decades since given myself over to an afternoon-into- evening set of performances and each of them conveyed deeply intimate stories about family, blood, place, love and belonging.

Threading through each is the metaphor of immersion — a baptismal or conversion. A cleansing.

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This cycled through my thinking as the day wore on and I continued to bump into even more acquaintances, contacts and connections from various corners of my past — my different beats at different news desks and posts over the years: Poets and actors. Journalists and teachers. Community activists and preachers. We all were reconnecting, it seems, with a past still to be reconciled. It brought up old business — riots and divisions and territory: wounds that had formed scabs, but never really healed correctly. Each piece struck so many in tender or forgotten places. I watched audience members emerge red-eyed or simply glassy. Not just out of sadness but, I think, feeling a deep sense of connection to the many tributaries of the stories — fathers and sons, the flow of family shifts and allegiances — and perhaps most significant of all what happens when you push outside of pre-perscribed lines.

What also hit home was the fact that two of the pieces are set here in Los Angeles, and the third, — with its immersion in the identity politics and the arm-wrestle of assimilation — could very well have simply swapped in L.A.’s physical coordinates and progressed without a disorienting hitch.

There is about another week to this run — and the Douglas is an easy and intimate spot to experience theater. See them if you can.

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— After the show with Luis Alfaro

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