By Rabbi Joshua Stanton
It is a rare moment in theaters large or small that a packed house gives its due in resounding applause after a show. It is rarer still that the audience sticks around because they want to talk about a show that has so moved them.
After one Saturday evening’s performance of The Actual Dance, a one-actor show that recently featured at the Studio Theater at Theater Row in New York, few audience members moved. Instead, these near-perfect strangers opened up to each other on the heals of a common and meaningful experience.
As a long-time family friend of the playwright and performer of The Actual Dance, I was given the chance to moderate the post-performance “talk-back” conversation. Though I would have attended and done my best for a friend whether or not the show was fulfilling, I was struck by the depth of audience participation and just how stirring they (and I) had found it.
People I had never met shared of losses in their lives, loved ones they had cared for, and spiritual questions that illness had evoked. One spoke of a sibling who had been in a serious accident and was currently in the hospital. A fellow member of the clergy spoke of his faith – and reliance on it in moments when he found himself supporting or advising congregants. I found myself in role as rabbi, rather than moderator, because of the pastoral outpouring. … Continue reading here