This is a video of a piece I wrote and performed at my friend Sarah Carleton's fundraiser for International Justice Mission and Restore International. It was a really wonderful event...for more details on that, you can visit this site.
Writing and performing a piece about beauty is not easy, if only because it becomes so personal. In working through the process of writing, staging, and performing Currency, I had to become okay with the fact that what the piece says about other people, and what the piece says about me, are both equally apparent. The only way to have the audience experience questions I wanted them to ask was through the medium of my own explorations and insecurities, and my own physical work, presented on stage. That was very scary.
A few years ago I happened upon a quote by CS Lewis, in the novel That Hideous Strength. He writes: “The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as to the male, and it is no accident that the goddess of Love is older and stronger than the god.” I was captivated by this quote, mostly because I have felt its truth myself. It was from this line of thought that I ultimately found the pieces to create Currency. I began to wonder: what if we acknowledged our limitations, and our preferences in the area of beauty? How would it change the way we act, towards ourselves and toward others, if we were honest about the glory and the danger of being instruments that can give and receive pleasure, simply by being embodied?
In a world of extremes, these are dangerous questions. Like C.S. Lewis’s Ghost, in the excerpt quoted from The Great Divorce, it is so impossible to see ourselves without comparison. And perhaps the corruption we experience in this world, right down to the sex trade itself, can be traced back to the impossible task of seeing ourselves not through eyes that weigh, and compare, but through eyes made holy by the grace of God—the grace C.S. Lewis’s Spirit is so tenaciously trying to offer the shabby female Ghost.
In any case, these are questions we have to ask. Questions I had to ask, and I ask you to continue asking. Even at the risk of discovery.
Please forgive the quality of the video. And because the quality is bad, it's difficult to tell what I'm doing at the beginning of the piece. I am mimicking the photographs of women pasted to the wall. The song played at the beginning is "Grace," by the band U2, and the excerpt of dramatic reading in the middle is from "The Great Divorce," by CS Lewis.
~ He Held Radical Light, Christian Wiman
~ An American Childhood, Annie Dillard