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“The quiet weeping. The convulsive laughter. The surge of sympathy for a character that suddenly turns to empathy when you realize it’s your story they are telling. Beauty. Intelligence. Grace. Courage. The capacity for surprise.

I love the theater. Art is one of the distinguishing capacities of the human— both to make it and to be reached by it. And, in the theater there is a doubling of its power. The art is live, in the room with you, and your presence and your response affect it. And you are in a room with strangers- neighbors who are also affected by it, impacting it, swept into it. You are in communion for the length of the performance. The live arts breathe the same air as the audience.

I’ve been thinking about the special power of the theater throughout this rehearsal process with Melinda Lopez.

Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel wrote a song that Roberta Flack made famous in 1973. In 1997 a new version launched the career of Lauryn Hill with her hip-hop group The Fugees. ‘Killing Me Softly’ was about the experience of being in the audience when a live performance started to tell the story of the its narrator.

“I heard he sang a good song, I heard he had a style And so I came to see him and listen for a while…”

Melinda has read this play aloud half a dozen times in the past year we’ve been working on it. In each case, the audience has come to listen for a while. They’d heard something of Melinda, or the subject matter, or they were subscribers to the theater that was presenting the reading. Their decision was as casual as the narrator in the song."

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Leadership“ArtsEmerson puts the world on stage and screen to help us understand our world, celebrate our place in it, and explore how we each can contribute to its transformation. We are passionately committed to delivering exceptional experiences for our audiences and operate from the belief that the arts belong to everyone. As we enter our 2016/17 Season, we invite you to come with us to places you have not been and share experiences you could not anticipate but will never forget. And, if you are so inclined, to engage with a room full of fellow travelers (who are your neighbors) to sort it all out. Let us begin to rediscover our community through the shared experience of art and conversation.”

– ArtsEmerson Leadership Team