Conversation - not preaching - with Andrew Himes
|Conversation - not preaching - with Andrew Himes|
by Miryam Gordon -
SGN A&E Writer
Revival! How I Got Saved, Got Lost, and Failed to Overthrow the Imperialist Bourgeoisie
Written and performed by Andrew Himes
Capitol Hill Arts Center
Through May 24
Andy Himes has figured out that, as it happens, he has lived an extraordinary life. Thankfully, he's also decided to talk about it, so we all can reflect on the historical events he can detail to us from firsthand experience. This is an amazing monologue, covering astonishingly specific events of our time, with the kind of detail some might be jealous of being able to remember.
Andy Himes is, perhaps, well known in the peace and justice arena, having produced an important documentary, Voices in Wartime. That's pretty cool, but almost minor-league when he tells you about being a leader of the student Vietnam War protesters on his Madison, Wisconsin campus, getting arrested, threatened, and beaten. Or walking in civil rights marches in the Deep South as a teenager and being one of a handful of whites among a thousand blacks.
But you have to start where he starts, with the fact that his grandfather is one of the iconic fundamentalist preachers of 20th Century America. Dr. John Rice was a traveling Baptist minister who cultivated and encouraged such Christian luminaries as Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell. Andy describes how virtually all his uncles and his father became Baptist ministers. This was regular life for him.
Starting with his grandfather allows the development of the contextualization of historic events and how he experienced it from the perspective of a Baptist child. Hell was a present nightmare to him. Being saved from it was real, physical safety.
But as you might guess, he grew up and realized that, maybe, his grandfather wasn't always right. Maybe there were other ways to look at the world. In rebellion, he became a revolutionary communist.
But religion isn't the only focus of his monologue. Himes was a white kid near Memphis, Tennessee, at the time of the protests, when neighbors were viciously attacked just because they were black and wanted equality. We don't hear stories about the whites who lived through that time. We hear about the oppressed and their struggle. Himes gives us a look into what was happening for whites around him. Somehow, Himes didn't believe as his classmates believed and didn't taunt and harass, the way his classmates threw urine on the two black children who dared enter his school.
It's a fascinating story with revelations of our times. Himes talks about why he is doing this performance and why people should come see it. "Why do I think people ought to see this? Why does this matter? This monologue is jam-packed with stories about who we are and the last half century of the history of our country; a boy growing up in the Deep South in the years of segregation. I had to learn how to act in a way that revealed justice and compassion. [I tell] stories about growing up in an all-white church, in an all-white school, and the rage of the students when black children came into my school, and the reaction to a black person coming into my church.
"I want people to see the link between war and injustice. I was able to understand what I was passionately against, and it took me a long time to understand what I was for. I knew I hated the terrible violence of the war, and the self-righteousness of people who called themselves Christian and had none of Jesus in them. I hated how white people treated black people in my community, but I didn't know what to replace it all with."
Himes describes in the monologue what his view of God has become. "The kingdom of heaven is right here among us, present on earth, embodied in people who love our neighbors as ourselves&." He doesn't want to spell out a belief system, though. "Part of what I want to leave people with is a whole lot of questions. One of the problems with my granddad is he had all the answers: Heaven, Hell and everything on earth. He preached gospel and told you what to think. One of the most important things is that I'm not telling people what to think. If you look at the actual word 'revival,' all it means is wake up, come back to yourself, look around you. If there is any message in this monologue, that's the message, that we all need to wake up and look around and do something about whatever we see. What are you going to do with what you feel and what you know? Everyone has faith in something and the question is whether we're going to act on our faith."
Wake yourself up and go listen to his stories, before he stops telling them to strangers in public. For more information, go to www.capitolhillarts.com or www.brownpapertickets.com or call 800-838-3006.
|Meeting, greeting and buying comics at Comicon|
|by Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid -
SGN A&E Writer
I could say that meeting Julie Benz, who used to play a vampire on both Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, and Angel, or that getting to chat for a moment with So You Want To Be A Superhero's Fat Momma was the height of this year's Emerald City Comicon. Those were good moments, but the best moment was actually finding two Vamp comics in the dollar box of comics, particularly after I'd found out last week that that series is no longer in print.
After all, having been a "comic geek" since I was a wee Bi girl, that was the point of going to a comicon in the first place, and I not only scored those two items, but there were also some very tasty, indie comics of the edgy variety I've come to love since learning there was/is a world outside of Marvel comics.
Also on hand for those who love the genre in all of its many forms were writers and artists who have worked on such greats as Spider-Man, Captain America, and some of Neil Gaiman's stories which featured the character Death. There were also a number of other titles, including one that had a little line at the table where the writers were selling related items like dog tags, graphic novels and stickers advertising The Devil's Panties - the publisher and title of one of the graphic novel/comics. I scooped up a dog tag with a devil girl on one side and angel on the other side. My favorite title though, was a new vampire series called Blood of Christ, especially the comic Jesus vs Vampires.
And if that wasn't your cup of tea, there were other items for sale, like comic figurines, pirate hats and floggers, and a plethora of titles so varied, it would have taken two more days to take it all in. Still, two autographs from two major artists on the back of my press pass had to do, because there was only Saturday and the cash I had at that moment. Oh, and I met the real Suicide Girls.