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D.B. Schroeder and his son, Gus.

In My Humble Opinion 16: A dad, at a loss, slogs forward

By D.B. Schroeder

Posted: Dec. 17, 2012 at 8 a.m.

I didn't know, and never imagined, that we would become "that" family. I just returned from co-directing this year's holiday pageant at our church. I type this, secluded in my office/workshop, while a troop of Girl Scout Daisies decorates cookies and make crafts upstairs for their holiday party that we are hosting.

I am lucky; I am a dad who will come home to a house filled with laughter. There are 20 houses where the laughter has been silenced.

In a few minutes I switch gears into producer/director mode. I will network during the open house of the arts building where Puzzle Piece is setting up shop. I will work on some tech elements, and then I will audition actors. I will be doing this work on the production I am producing/directing/designing - you know, that one about the classroom of kids that explodes...

The laughter of the kids I have been around all day won't accompany me to the theater.

I have been captivated by this play, "Show and Tell," for more than a decade. It was written in 1990. Anthony Clarvoe, the play's author, has said, "I asked myself, 'What is the most horrible thing that can happen?' Is it possible to find any redemption in that? If there is, it must be a fundamental good."

He spoke those words in an interview commenting on a production of this same play in 1999. A production opening weeks after Columbine...

"Show and Tell" was written in 1990, a year when the Hubble telescope was launched, Nelson Mandela was freed, Germany began the process of reunification, and Iraq invaded Kuwait.

"Show and Tell" was written before the Oklahoma City bombing, before the school shooting in Jonesboro Arkansas, before the World Trade Center bombing, before Columbine, before the towers fell, before the D.C. sniper, before Virginia Tech, before the Colorado movie theater, before Rep. Giffords in Arizona, before...before...before this.

I wanted to produce this play in Detroit at this moment in time in a year where five children were killed by gunfire in five different incidents in a span of less than two weeks. I wanted to produce this play in Detroit at this moment in time where Detroit's murder rate is up five percent from last year. I wanted to produce this play in Detroit at this moment in time to spark reflection that will spark conversations that will spark action that works towards healing.

Today at this moment in time, I don't want to produce this play. But I will. It needs to be considered; it will be hard, but it needs to be considered.

Today at this moment in time, I think of the inspiring words of John Parick Shanley from his introduction to his play "The Big Funk."

"Theater is a safe place to do the unsafe things that need to be done. When it's not a safe place, it's abusive to actors and audiences alike. When its safety is used to protect cowards masquerading as heroes, it's a boring travesty. An actor who is truly heroic reveals the divine that passes through him, that aspect of himself that he does not own and cannot control. The control and the artistry of the heroic actor is in service to his soul...

Act from the depth of your feeling imagination. Act for celebration, for search, for grieving, for worship, to express that desolate sensation of wandering through the howling wilderness."

Today at this moment in time, I will go to work at my Theatre.

About the author
D.B. Schroeder is producing artistic director of Puzzle Piece Theatre. "Show and Tell" will open Feb. 7, 2013 at the Puzzle Piece Theatre Studio located inside the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit. For more information about Puzzle Piece Theatre, log on to www.puzzlestage.org

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