Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EST December 23rd 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Our last workshop of 2020 included a community of 25 new and returning participants from the
US, Canada, the UK, Bahrain, India, Indonesia, Portugal, Greece, France, and Turkey.

To help immerse themselves in today’s text (“Molly Sweeney” by Irish playwright Brian Friel)
the group was invited to listen to it read with their eyes closed. They then followed along a
second time (eyes open, text visible), comparing/contrasting the two methods and noting what
language/images resonated. Subjective reactions to “listening in blindness” included
“inspiring,” “full of images,” “sneaky,” “a little frightening” and “adding an unknown element.”

The prompt, “Bring us to a dance” generated prose and verse responses reflecting themes of
how “Norms can be constraining…symbiosis can lead to a transcendental experience” as well as
fear, risk, anxiety, and perception defining reality with different kinds of sightedness. After one
writer explored the rhythm (through rhyme) of a dance recital’s pressure of performance, the
next writer employed internal rhyme to explore the embodiment of musicality through
“twirling and twisting…nerves and hopes.” The next dance was full of multisensory colors,
textures and movement (“I am uplifted in spirit and in sight”). This solo private dance seemed
to offer hope for the future: alone but in communion with nature. Another writer welcomed us
to a Sunday kitchen where a grandmother in her “fluid, fragrant fabric” cooked using a variety
of utensils. Our last dance was a Gilbert and Sullivan ball where a young woman’s choice of
understated attire made her feel “worse than naked” as she took the floor with her partner.
The vivid description was like an invitation we all need in these sequestered times: “I so want to
get into a huge open room and waltz.”

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Join us for our next live session, following a break for the holiday season, on Monday January 11th at 6pm EST. This will be our last virtual session for 2020, and we hope that we will all be able to find time to celebrate, even if remotely, with family and friends over the next two weeks, and enter the new year in health and safety. Following Monday January 11th, we will be recommencing with our virtual group sessions on a regular schedule, with updates and times to be listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


MOLLY

As usual Rita was wonderful. She washed my hair, my bloody useless hair — I can do nothing with it — she washed it in this special shampoo she concocted herself. Then she pulled it all away back from my face and piled it up, just here, and held it in place with her mother’s silver ornamental comb. And she gave me her black shoes and her new woolen dress she’s just bought for her brother’s wedding.

  “There’s still something not right,” she said. “You still remind me of my Aunt Madge. Here — try these.” And she whipped off her earrings and put them on me. “Now we have it,” she said. “Bloody lethal. Francis Constantine, you’re a dead duck!”

FRANK

She had the time of her life. Knew she would. We danced every dance. Sang every song at the top of our voices. Ate an enormous supper. Even won a spot prize: a tin of shortbread and a bottle of Albanian wine. The samba, actually. I wasn’t bad at the samba once. Dancing. I knew. I explained the whole thing to her. She had to agree. For God’s sake she didn’t have to say a word — she just glowed.

MOLLY

It was almost at the end of the night — we were doing an old-time waltz — and suddenly he said to me, “You are such a beautiful woman, Molly.”

Nobody had ever said anything like that to me before. I was afraid I might cry. And before I could say a word, he plunged on: “Of course I know that the very idea of appearance, of how things look, can’t have much meaning for you. I do understand that. And maybe at heart you’re a real philosophical skeptic because you question not only the idea of appearance but probably the existence of external reality itself. Do you, Molly?”

Honest to God . . . the second last dance at the Hikers Club . . . a leisurely, old-time waltz . . .And I knew that night that he would ask me to marry him. Because he liked me — I knew he did. And because of my blindness — oh, yes, that fascinated him. He couldn’t resist the different, the strange. I think he believed that some elusive off-beat truth resided in the quirky, the off-beat. I suppose that’s what made him such a restless man. Rita of course said it was inevitable he would propose to me. “All part of the same pattern, sweetie: bees — whales — Iranian goats — Molly Sweeney.” Maybe she was right.

 And I knew, too, after that night in the Hikers Club, that if he did ask me to marry him, for no very good reason at all I would probably say yes.

Friel, Brian. Molly Sweeney. Plume, 1994.

4 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EST December 23rd 2020

  1. Bring us to dance~~~

    I walk into a bed of wildflowers that are strewn in this tucked-away meadow.
    Brilliant shades of yellows, oranges, blues, and pinks.
    A kaleidoscope of living,
    all fused together,
    all living in harmony.
    Sweet smells waft up to me.

    I am uplifted,
    both in spirit and in sight.
    I dance among these gifts of Nature that bring so much joy to my heart,
    so much hope.
    I realize that eventually these petals will fall to earth and brown,
    enriching Mother Earth,
    but for now, I dance!
    I dance with joy at the gifts strewn at my feet,
    I dance with optimism for the future.

    Like

  2. Elizabeth

    The Covid Dance

    Like the cha-cha-cha
    Two steps forward one step back
    Like the dance of the roller coaster
    The ups and the downs
    Week by week, day by day, minute by minute

    I did not ask for this invitation
    Yet I, like the rest of the world, am a guest at this dance.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. al3793

    “Bring us to a dance…
    I don’t know what prompted my very cautious parents to let me take the Polara to the Christmas dance in that weather. Everything was colored lime green those days and it had one of those hard tops, meant to add some class. I was seven-teen and just beyond a novice behind the wheel. It was wretched out, snowing the kind of snow that packs into ice as you drive over it and that resisted defrosting when it hit the windshield. Fortunately, Chrysler, known for its reliable Mopar transmissions built equally reliable HVAC for cars.

    It was Saturday night – no reason for road crews to get ahead of things. There were no front wheel drives and four-wheelers were rare, even among hunters.
    I had asked Mary Ellen Gordon to the dance. She was a popular, athletic girl and there was no reason for her to say yes to my request. Her father was a member of the school board and knew my principal father well. I could barely spit out the invitation with my stomach in my throat and good we didn’t have to shake on it as the sweat on my hands would have grossed her out. Besides, we weren’t really friends, but we were in class together, cordial toward each other and seemed at least familiar enough to try a date. She was cute and unassuming but not the girl all the guys were after. I was shy around girls and I reckon I looked pretty awkward, although I had gotten used to playing an impostor. To my knowledge, no girls were after me.

    Did I say the weather was wretched…

    Andre

    Like

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