At first, we were strangers. At first, we were nervous. At first there was so much unknown. At first, we tiptoed around each other, unsure of what to say. Unsure of HOW to say it. At first there were just so many “what ifs.”
So, for many weeks we took the time just to sit together, to eat together, and to laugh together. And slowly, our cautious tip toeing became like the practiced steps of dancers. We began to finish each other’s sentences and to worry about each other’s health and to relish every moment we shared together. And it was then that we asked to open the pandora’s box of memories that had been sitting in the room from the moment we all entered – an invisible force that drove our relationships and our curiosity.
We were both hesitant and confident about opening this box together. We were barraged once again by the “what ifs” of opening the lid until we decided that the most frightening “what if” of all was the “what if we just leave it there as it is. What if we just turn and walk away?” So, we held hands, waited patiently, and assured each other that when things became too sad or too scary, we would be there with a comforting hug, a soothing smile, and a shoulder to lean on. THIS is human compassion and it defies age and bridges the decades between us.
As autumn shifted into winter and the stories kept pouring out we DID hear many things that made us cry and made us furious and made us speechless. But in the voices of our storytellers we also discovered that underneath all the evil they had endured was a profound and vital ability to hope. And we know now that it is that human ability to hope, which allows us to survive.
We will never forget the stories we heard and we will continue to encourage more to be told. And today we will bring a small handful of them to life in order to share them with you. Though for most of our cast this will be the very first time they perform on a stage, it is the respect and dedication that they have for each other, which allows them to perform so genuinely and with such love and care for those they portray. And in this way, we honor the notion that compassion and empathy are what binds us together as human beings and are the vehicle through which we learn how to turn the evils of the past into hope for our future.