On January 13, 2017 Nashville’s Dark Horse Theater held space for Jessica Malone’s vision and Actor’s Bridge Ensemble’s open call to local artists to respond to the pending inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. The name of the mind-blowing curation of theatrical reading, skit comedy, vaudeville musical performances and a touch of mime was Rally/Cry. The deluge of messages pounded on the heart and mind. Rape, racism and rage all were given a walk across the floor boards. Absorbing it all was punishing and rejuvenating and in the end, the only choice we had, if there was to be a record of this once in a lifetime performance, was to be with the pain and hope.
After a hiatus of nearly two years, this new issue of Nashville Skyline owes its inspiration to the genius of these performances and the example it set. The premise of Rally/Cry was that while we are traumatized by installation of a molester in chief into our zeitgeist, we need to process the paralyzing fears and regain our strength so we can fight our way out of this mess.
Nearly universal to all the performances was the sharp insight born from self-reflection and sorting through the debris of smashed ideals and illusions. Laughter and tears played their role, compassionately cautioning us all that we turn our backs to the growing implosion at our own peril. In this light some of the Skyline writers redetermined to make a scratch on the paper and pass it around the community. The impulse was to move, not stand ideally by, start faking it until we make it.
What has emerged is a variety of process pieces of people yearning to find the real amongst the unreal, the authentic voice amongst the huckster calls, the potent elixir amongst the snake oil. Two of this issues submissions were triggered directly by Rally/Cry and deserve some context.
Amanda Cantrell Roche’s My Voice draws out this artist/activist’s reawakening of her role in her world. Reconciling the pains associated with a compassionate heart with the gut instincts to fight/flee or freeze, Amanda’s impulse to create, move, stretch and engage tells a piece of her journey to power and purpose.
Sean Siple, a new convert to the Skyline cult (more about that in another issue) drafted It’s my Privilege and I can Cry if I Want To immediately in the wake of experiencing Rally/Cry and jotted down the first three graphs as direct outtakes (drawn from memory) out of soliloquies and songs and sketches staged on that rainy January night. Not sure where to go but anxious not to be frozen by blindness and shame, this piece acts as a processing exercise that delivered enough peace to be able to move forward and take a place in the community of change.
Josh Lee’s poem “They Never Spoke His Name” is like good archeology. It indicates where we came from, provides a shard of evidence of how we got here, yet leaves plenty to the imagination — answers are variable and forthcoming. Josh visited Nashville this winter from Erie, PA. He was here to heal old wounds tied up in his relationship with a once unavailable father. He exemplifies what a person might have to go through to get back one’s power.
Each of these pieces evokes questions of the universe and the reader, hopefully pinging with resonance on some of the core values you hold as dear as the writers who crafted this exhibition. You may notice that there is audio, video, prose, poetry… the modes of storytelling are as diverse as the changing Nashville Skyline. Thank you for taking time to be a part of our experience.