Flying in the Dark's initial run is over but the accolades continue to come in. We gathered comments, as we always do, after the shows but Kim is still getting emails and so are we. Everyone is entranced with how she opened and closed by telling in the darkness, adding to the immediacy of her experience; how she carried us into her landscape so we too in our own ways could live it -- a landscape of sights and sounds and scents and textures that is rich and full. Everyone is intensely moved by her honesty in the second half where she allowed us to see not just her strength but her vulnerability; where she -- a daily blogger of Great Things About Being Blind, known for her humour and positiveness -- allowed us to enter into the other side of her world.
No one will ever know how hard this was for her. If I have learnt anything from all of this it is that living with disability means you have to prove your ability, over and over on a daily basis; you have to keep demonstrating how good your days are; always and always you may find yourself faced with the voices of pity, the voices that imply you are not just disabled but incompetent, the voices that seek to undermine. You can't afford to admit that you have weaknesses; you are pushed to appear almost super-human, even though you may do that with a laugh.
I didn't feel I could put this before but now it seems fitting to let it be known that she was wrestling with words and shapes and images almost until the last. In this, she showed incredible artistic commitment, always coming back for more. One of our sessions left both of us shaken to the core. We had thought it was "all right" and suddenly it wasn't. Neither of us knew what to do but still she hung in.
The work was hers and what she finally crafted -- in its simplicity, its grace, its laughter and its poetry -- had nothing to do with impositions from outside. Having said that, I would note that the work Jennifer and I did with her was what opened the doors. I would also say this depth of work is rare but when I see what Kim achieved I am yet more convinced that storytelling must have more of it if the art form is to keep on reaching out to listeners and so grow.
I'm going to finish with some quotes from Flying in the Dark's admirers. Before I do that, I would also point out that this is a show which has legs. It can travel. It could come to you if you would book it. Just get in touch with 2wp at http://www.2wp.ca/contact/
On to the quotes:
"A very moving performance, exceptionally honest."
"Kim, now I have the opportunity to tell you again how much I enjoyed your storytelling last Saturday night
in Perth. When the lights dimmed and faded away, and your voice came out of the darkness as a small child, full of wonder and joie de vivre, I was enchanted, and I am pretty sure the rest of the audience was too."
"Kim is a great story teller - gentle and vulnerable one moment then funny and raging the next. She had me gripped from the first moment."
"In the second half you showed your adult self, the struggles that I share with you and the courage that you have and I have and that makes us equals. I was able to stop thinking of you as "the remarkable blind woman" and start learning skills from a remarkable, but at times insecure just-like-me woman."
"Story telling is such a lost art - who knew it was alive and well in Ontario until you two came along? And, do you know what? It's just the same as being a child and listening with that tremendous focus, totally enchanted, totally in thrall, hearing nothing else, knowing nothing else."
"Thank-you, Kim, for that wonderful, funny, thoughtful, profound and totally entertaining show."