By Michael Kennedy.
In SRO: Single Room Occupancy, the character of Rachel speaks to the audience about standing in a parking lot in the winter cold, finding the joy in watching the flight of birds:
…what I want is to stand there in that everyday expanse of oil- stained gray and look up over the building to my left – the one where even more disabled people live than in my building – and to watch that flock of whatever they are – starlings? sparrows? – move and turn, as though they are one thing, breathing one breath. …. What I don’t want is to know for sure what kind of birds they are – or how they do it.
As a playwright and director, I’m always drawn to projects that focus on the ways we find meaning and beauty in the details of our daily lives. My deepest creativity is sparked when I’m faced with something mysterious and unexpectedly beautiful; something that asks me just to see it before trying to solve it.
So I was initially drawn to the Breathing Lights project because it offered the opportunity to experience mystery on a grand artistic scale. Designed to create beauty in stark and abandoned places, it asked individuals to stand with the buildings, simply inhaling and exhaling in the moment. It invited us to imagine the lives these structures once contained and offered us ways to reclaim and deepen our own sense of home – in our relationships, our physical property, and our larger communities.
Following each performance of SRO, audience members were invited to stay for a mini-performance by the Creative Action Playback Theater Company, on this topic of “home.” Stories were shared about living in very small places, and with limited funds, and also about the sense of expansion associated with finding a home for ourselves, whether that location can be found on a map or by how strongly we feel that we fit, when we’re there.
Deepest thanks to Breathing Lights for offering me the warmth and light that allow me to honor these stories!
Michael Kennedy is the Artistic Director of Creative Action Unlimited, a professional space in Troy for development of theater projects for community change and guided artistic exploration of personal goals. A human services professional who has also worked in Capital Region theater for over 30 years, Michael taught and directed with NYSTI’s Theater Arts School and was a company member with Pentimento Playback Theater, in addition to acting and directing with local theater groups. She also established the Creative Action Touring Company and the Creative Action Playback Theater Company.
Read Times Union article about SRO: Single Room Occupancy.