"NOURA - A Breath" - from director Kate Bergrstrom
Last night I was haunted by a series of conundrums - what is the utopia at the end of this story? Is there radical joy & possibility? Is there enough to reckon with before utter collapse? What is the vision of hope that keeps us from demise in the face of impossible grief?
The play circles and answers itself.
Two years ago I walked into to Heathers rehearsal room for the first time. It was two months after the violent death of my partner, the leaving of an apartment we called home, the blasting open of a life I knew into something else. Pathless, I found myself in the theatre. I listened to Heather breath for the first time. This, followed by her inquiry: do we live for each other or do we live for ourselves? I want a country in between. I looked around, the company, the artists the energy in that space - a woman planning to focus lights on this question, another dressing the set for assertions of attempts at an answer. The play- the room of the play- the excavation, the joy, the hope, the pain, the being together in a dark room - for a moment Heather offered me a country to stand on.
For a month, breathing listening - Noura was the new tissue that rebuilt my broken heart, that helped put me back together again- new- breathing.
That is what theatre does - it offers a utopic careful togetherness, a breate in impossible circumstances. A woman in between two countries, her past and her present who must become the urban tissue she wants to see in the world. Noura exists with us in the theatre. We synthesize by this placement - that the impossible and crucial quest of building a utopia we have not known—can barely fathom—must involve first being together better through the listening and careful presence required in theatrical imagination—in transcendent being. Heather, in giving us this opportunity here today, has in part achieved this utopian dream of culling and bringing us together in the presence of this woman's inquiry and being to breathe into challenge -into reckoning- into a hope of collective imagining.
Noura is a provocation - a challenge and a celebration of our chance towards collective imagination in building, through our bodies, the fabric of the next century. I ask that we create this provocation with deadly serious playfulness, indomitable courageous amidst failure and flight, perseverance, love, and trust in our togetherness.
While I can’t possibly understand the collapse of one of the oldest societies known to humankind, I can understand what it is to breath in the presence of a woman asking questions.
In gestating towards this plight, I ask us to move towards a radical collectivism that starts together with our imaginations in a theatre—our country in between—breathing, listening, present.