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.”
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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.
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!”
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.
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.