I write to you today from New Jersey -from my kitchen table no less. Today is my kid's 16th birthday. And in making my deal with her that I could go out on tour, she asked me to ensure that I would be home for her birthday and also for her school musical - both of which happen today. So, here I am in Jersey - 18 hours ago getting finished with a show in Phoenix and 24 hours from now approximately, performing again in Tuscon. Leaving my kid for nine weeks never sounded like a GOOD idea to me, but I have maintained that it is necessary for me to do this work, and, fortunately, she agrees.
I picked her up early from school, took her out to lunch and then home for presents - she loved all the tshirts from different parts of the country and the pride/trans/pan bracelets I got her. But the coup de grace was the pictorial/behind the scenes hard covernbound script of The Dark Knight. She squealed and squealed for almost 20 minutes and then went on to reading it immediately. Taking notes of the script and the manner in which the actors said the words..."I never knew you could do that with a script." her gears were turning and the gifts were a success!
Now, having given a little account of what MY 16 year old is going through today, I can turn to those 16-20 year olds who I performed for last night at the Phoenix LGBT Center.
First off, it was an odd day. We traveled from Silver City, NM - population 10K in the middle of nowhere to Phoenix, AZ - pop 1.5 million in the middle of buildings and cars and cars and cars. It took Kristen and me approximately 4 minutes to be done with the traffic. Where were the quiet streets and high curbs of Silver City? Oh well. we got to Phoenix - 90 degrees in the shade - got to a Y, paid $10 and signed my life away to use their shower facilities and then we were on our way to the LGBT Center.
The Center is nice, Joshua Judd was welcoming. Phoenix LGBT Center had partnered with a Youth program called One n Ten to bring an audience, which they did. Approximately 13 youth and two staff were there for the show. And it was super fun. The first few minutes everyone is wondering, "Jeez, is this going to be this intense for 90 minutes?" and then the first joke comes and that relieves the tension.
(Now I'm writing to you from above Missouri -- the birthday and show went swimmingly. My kid was thrilled to see me as were some dear friends. It was a really good, if too-short visit)
Anyhow, the show was going along well, the audience was with me for the most part. There were three youth in the back row who decided to start speaking at full volume during one part. I stopped the show after it went on for a while and was clearly bothering some other people and said, "Listen, you can talk, but not in here, you either stay quiet and stay in here or you go out and talk, your choice, but you got to make it quick. 3-2-1 ok you're staying and quiet." And I jumped right back into the show.
The youth were quiet after that but then the oddest thing happened -something about the quiet when I passed out the boxes...this one girl spontaneously broke out into a description of her recent suicide attempt and then another and another. Pretty soon we were having a full blown q-n-a right in the middle of the show! It was amazing. I went with it for about 10 or 12 minutes and when it seemed like it was over, I segued into the end of the show - another 15 minutes or so. They were with me all the way. It was great.
After the show a bunch of the kids came up to me to tell them how moved they were by the show and to tell me about their experiences with suicide. It seems like more than 3/4s of the youth that I've performed for have struggled with suicide. It is rampant and we must continue to do something about it
Well, now we're flying over Kansas. Very different from driving through.
From above the US,