On Tour: The Maryland Hall for the Arts: Hanging in there. (Annapolis, MD)

19 Sep

For 52 weeks, my friend, the writer and artist Teresa Jordan wrote a sparkling weekly blog called “The Year of Living Virtuously: Weekends Off.  Thirteen Virtues, Seven Sins: A meditation on the search for meaning in an ordinary life.” http://www.yearoflivingvirtuously.com

In week 25, Teresa’s essay about the virtue of pride included this:

“If you practice an art, be proud of it and make it proud of you. It may break your heart, but it will fill your heart before it breaks it; it will make you a person in your own right.”               – Maxwell Anderson

After the screening of TRUST in Annapolis (number six of seven) I find myself thinking about the virtue “hanging in there,” not that Teresa’s guiding light on the subject of virtue, Benjamin Franklin, would have called it that.

When Marlin told her story to the Albany Park Theater Project and APTP decided to make an original play based on it, I simply knew that after four years of trying and failing all we had to do was film APTP creating and performing the play and we would capture what had eluded us.  But how to inspire funders to support a project that had not been completed despite being in-progress for four years?  I had not talked much about the difficulties because they were so personal and tragic.  But Peter Handler, program officer at one of the documentary’s funders, advised me to let prospective funders know exactly what had happened in those four years.  So this is what I told them:

In November 2004 – the same month we started filming APTP – my doctor told me I had to have spinal cord surgery.  Recovery was grueling and painful and I was out of work for a year.  The first place I went in spring 2006 when I was finally able to travel was Chicago to see APTP’s fabulous new play, “God’s Work” and re-connect with the company.

David and Maggie of APTP with filmmaker Nancy Kelly, by Photographer Amy Braswell for Kelly-Yamamoto Productions

In 2006 we filmed APTP researching a new play, an ethnographic exploration of genocide inspired by a company member whose Cambodian parents and grandparents survived the Pol Pot regime.  Near the end of the year, David asked me to suspend production because Laura was in and out of the hospital so often.  Laura died in June 2007, which was heartbreaking.  Many people, including Kenji, thought I should give up on the project.  But I couldn’t, because David didn’t give up on APTP, and if he hung in there, who was I to throw in the towel?  So I waited for almost a year.  In May 2008, David re-opened APTP’s doors to me.  Our first shoot was of an APTP recruitment workshop at a neighborhood high school.  Marlin attended that workshop, although she was so distant and observational, she didn’t stand out.  But!  Over the summer David let me know that Marlin had been telling her story in bits and pieces to him, Maggie, an APTP veteran who joined the APTP staff after college, and Anna, APTP’s senior member. The day we filmed Marlin telling her story I felt so rewarded for having the virtue of hanging in there.

Shooting TRUST, by Photographer Amy Braswell for Kelly-Yamamoto Productions

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Nancy Kelly

All photos by Amy Braswell for Kelly-Yamamoto Productions

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