Loss Soul: If You Think Church Is Just an Hour on Sunday

Local Arts Reviews

Exhibitionism


Loss Soul: If You Think Church Is Just an Hour on Sunday

Hyde Park Theatre,

through December 18

Running Time: 1 hr, 10 min -- then the rest of your life

You're a black man walking down the sidewalk and a white man is walking toward you. Just as you're about to pass each other, your eyes meet, and you can see in them some kind of resistance, something intended to keep you at arm's length. His expression is stony, aloof, and the two of you pass without saying a word. Or you're a white woman waiting for an elevator. When it arrives, you see two black women engaged in lively conversation inside. Both glance at you, and you catch in their eyes something hard, a closed door. It is their only acknowledgement of you as you join them. They stop talking, and nothing else is said.

These encounters are small, minor brushes between people of different cultures, and perhaps as telling about modern manners as racial friction, but they are emblematic of the way we deal with race in this country: We don't talk. We feel the stabbing pain of wounds inflicted over four centuries of strife between blacks and whites but choose to suffer them in silence. And in silence they fester, perpetuating the pain.

Now, here, two men have come together on a stage to break the silence. One, Keith Antar Mason, is black. One, Andrew Long, is white. They begin by talking to us. In separate, alternating monologues, they describe conflicts between blacks and whites: in the feelings of a condemned prison inmate, in the memory of a witness to a vicious beating, in the actions of a government that wraps itself in issues of security while its people languish in poverty. It is vigorous talk, often blunt talk, bringing out of the silence and into the air all those jagged feelings -- the anger, the resentment, the fear -- many of them still purplish and raw, pulled fresh from that part of the spirit torn by injustice and bigotry and violence. Their talk is difficult to listen to, sometimes disturbing when first heard, especially when delivered with the conviction and fire that Mason and Long possess. But once we have heard it, a curious calm settles inside us. It is as if a wound in us has had the poison drawn out of it; now it has a chance to heal.

After the men speak to us, they invite us to talk with them. It isn't one of those discussions after the work that you encounter so often in the performing arts today; it is a part of the work -- perhaps the most vital part. What has come before has been a healing ritual, which we have witnessed. This is our first opportunity to act on that witnessing, to contribute to the healing of two races. Because certainly we are going out of that theatre into a world where we will encounter people with white skin and people with black skin, and what we do when we meet them will either help spread the healing or let the old poison of silence seep back into the wound.

Once, I thought that church was something that took place in a specific building for an hour on Sundays. Then I came to realize that confining church to one time and one place was missing the point. What was talked about during that hour on Sundays was how we live in the world, and it didn't matter a damn what message was delivered in the sanctuary if I didn't carry some part of that message out into the world with me. Sundays was merely a starting point for church; it kept going on all week and was with me wherever I was in the world.

Loss Soul begins with an hour-long performance by two passionate, accomplished artists in a theatre in Austin. But it will follow you out of that theatre and be with you long after that hour is over. This is church; it's about how we live in the world.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Arts Reviews
Arts Review
Fusebox Festival 2012
This year the fest's dance works provoked questions about inequity, grrrl power, fame, and change

Jonelle Seitz, May 11, 2012

Arts Review
April Fools
Acia Gray mines vaudeville for lost treasures of tap and makes them dazzle again

Robert Faires, April 6, 2012

More by Robert Faires
Moontower Comedy Festival Rescheduled
Moontower Comedy Festival Rescheduled
New dates for the annual event, setting up two jokes in 2021

Aug. 4, 2020

<i>Walking Waller Creek</i> Is a Tour Through Wildlife, Wild Flora, and Wild History
Walking Waller Creek Is a Tour Through Wildlife, Wild Flora, and Wild History
Take this self-guided tour from UT's Office of Sustainability, and learn how much wildness this waterway is home to

July 31, 2020

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle