Theatre: The Family that No One Talks About
“That show was unlike anything I have ever seen,” my friend said with a smile as we walked out of Mixed, Blended, Shaken, & Stirred: Stories about Today’s American Family, a part of Washington DC’s INTERSECTIONS festival at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H St NE. It was true—Storytelling is something unique. It is not exactly a play because there is no acting, nor is it a SLAM poetry night, or even an open-mic night because it is rehearsed; I suppose it could be considered a monologue, however it is all truth.
The focus of Friday night’s show was family, but not as much family as a whole as I had expected walking in. Rather, the stories danced around the edges of the concept of family and the impact a family has on one’s life. The stories covered an individual’s personal experience and through that, brought light to their true meaning of family. The show featured the talents of Christopher Love, Jennifer Luu, Mike Kane, David Ferris, Chuck Harmston, and Vijai Nathan. Each took their turn on stage not to act, but to share, open up, and allow for the viewers to relate to their experience and themselves.
The stories touched on many and various aspects of the current American family, including the struggle of a gay man’s attempt to donate sperm to a lesbian couple; the affects of a religious conversion to Mormonism in a Buddhist Vietnamese family; the effort to ensure a normal family life for one’s children after growing up with a heroin addicted father; the challenges of a cross-cultural marriage into an Indian family as a metro-American man; the drama of growing up in a family of 11 children, 6 of of whom were adopted; and the pressures for a young women to find a husband and have children in today’s society.
One by one each storyteller came up to the microphone, stood on the empty stage, and shared a piece of their past. Even in the high-impact environment we are used to experiencing, where actions often speak louder than words, it was refreshing to leave that atmosphere and simply listen to the words, without distraction and without judgment. The emotional reactions of the audience did not feel forced but rather were gently pushed along through the hour-long showcase. The momentum of the stories flowed well as feelings moved with ease from sadness, shock, relief, joy, love, and laughter.
While the stories reached what seemed like every emotion, they came equipped with some hilarious anecdotes (for a sneak preview): such as Love’s description of his donated “illicit gay sperm-sicle,” to Ferris’s bold statement to is Indian father-in-law, “You can’t hide the metro-sexual inside!” and ending with Nathan’s comparison of prehistoric caveman to the modern day dating scene; “How drunk does a caveman have to be to bang a chimp?”
For an entertaining, unique, and special experience, there are two more opportunities to see this SpeakeasyDC production, this Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5. I guarantee that you will relate in some way to each story with compassion, laughter, perhaps even tears, and you will definitely walk away with something to talk about.
First time here? See what we're all about... Get involved... Send us a tip!...