Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Being Bohemian: Anna Hammonds

BoHo Theatre Artistic Associate Anna Hammonds, on what it means to be bohemian:

During a rather quiet rehearsal of Floyd Collins years ago, I watched as actor Jim DeSelm pretended to be trapped by a rock while Jon Harrison sang over his shoulder about the hope of Daybreak. There was a moment at the end of the song where Jon placed his hand on Jim’s shoulder, and I understood that gesture was the only way those brothers could connect with one another in that imaginary world of a cave in Kentucky. It was in a rehearsal room. No one else was in the audience that night, but I felt like a fool as a tear ran down my cheek.

There’s no way for me to understand what it feels like to be trapped underground with no light or warmth around me. But as I watched these two actors quietly and effectively display the love between two brothers, I thought of my own dad and his late brother. As we were producing Floyd Collins that summer, my uncle was dying of cancer. Although he had no earthly means of saving him, dad was able to share hope and love and light, and even an occasional touch on the shoulder to let my uncle know he was there for him.

Truth be told, I hate it when actors say they believe theatre allows the audience to forget their troubles and worries, providing escape from the real world. I believe the exact opposite should be true. If it's good theatre— great theater in fact— it should pull the audience's heart and not let go, assuring them that it is good to laugh from the gut or mourn or fall in love or fight for a loved one to survive.

During my time at BoHo, I have partnered with artists who don't shy from connecting with an audience, whether the backdrop was a drought of the 1930s, or that lonely broken down grill in the dead of a Wisconsin winter. BoHo artists bravely carry that transformative storytelling power that surpasses geographical or cultural boundaries. We really are all connected by the most basic needs and yearnings of wanting to love and be loved. Being Bohemian is to be a brave storyteller, one that is not afraid to share pain or joy in a very real and honest way with patrons from all walks of life. While seeing a production won't cause a soul to forget troubles outside the theatre walls, I hope it reminds them that they are not alone. We are all living out a shared experience of joy, heartache, struggle, wonderment, beauty and love. I am proud to be a part of BoHo Theatre, a company rich with brave storytellers.

Throughout BoHo Theatre's milestone 10th Season, BoHo company members will be revealing what being "bohemian" means to them. What does Bohemianism and BoHo Theatre mean to you? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!