You enter the darkened theater. You smell beeswax. A musician is playing. The center of the stage is filled with a large, illuminated piece of clear glass. As the show begins, you are handed a book. You read a page aloud — a line, a quote, perhaps a short paragraph — turn the page and hand the book to the next person to do the same. You might hear sentiments you wouldn't say aloud but have thought to yourself. The artist illustrates them, painting on the glass with melted wax. Each image changes the one before. Together, you create a portrait of Oakland.
It starts with a single line. The language is simple. The image is simple. It is like being read a bedtime story, listening and watching the pictures unfold. Slowly the stories get more complex, describing truths you know and truths you don't. Before you know it, you are immersed. Different perspectives are juxtaposed, and the painting builds — story upon story, image upon image, perspective upon perspective. You see every brushstroke. See everything created in front of you. Yet at the end, the artist turns the painting around and you discover yet another perspective you hadn't even realized existed. You start to wonder what other people in the audience saw. Did they see and hear what you did? How much are we the same? How much are we different?
After a brief intermission, you have the opportunity to meet the other people in the room face to face with new eyes. Everyone in the room has experienced this together. You can share your thoughts and stories, listen, ask questions and compare notes. Your thoughts and stories help shape the next cycle of the show.
People said they left changed ... more awake ... more alive, and went back out into the world seeing it a little differently.
Are you feeling divided?