The Hebrew and Christian holy scriptures share a story of a man who after living as a refugee in the wilderness for forty years encounters a bush that while actively burning is not consumed. The miracle becomes even more fantastical when a voice speaks from this brush fire, "put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground." I have been fascinated by Holy Ground since I was a child in Sunday school. As I have lived life my understanding of God has changed drastically. I do not think of God like I thought about it in my youth, and yet my search for Holy Ground has not wained.
It was one afternoon three years ago inside the Kranzberg Black Box as I was alone in the space and waiting as the lighting board powered up. In just a few minutes Michael Hagmeier would be arriving to perform his 2015 Fringe show "Digeridoo In The Dark." For that moment though, I was alone in a dark room with 80 seats, 600 square feet of performance space, forty lighting fixtures, and a day scheduled full of theatrical productions.
The room I was in would be filled with the tones and reverberations of Michael's instrument. It would host the rhythms of Tapman and his team of dancers. It would be teleported to Moscow as Lucy and her troop presented a Chekov drinking game. It would host Patrick's high school students presenting a surreal production of Alice in Wonderland. Carl would tell a story of a lonely man and the rental of a dissatisfied sexbot. All these stories would fill this space that in this moment glowed with the just the dull blue of a computer boot screen.
This space I was standing in at that moment, this was Holy Ground. Moses stood before a flame in the desert and learned the meaning of his life. I stood in that dim blue glow and recognized the meaning of these spaces we call theaters.
It has been over three years since that first cherished moment. I have traveled between venues and producers. I have watched puppets skewer the US political process. I have seen other puppets address the struggle of infertility. I have now seen Elizabeth take her audience into the emotional core of two mothers; one who lost her freedom the other who lost her child. I have cried in these theaters, as Jackie told a story of two sisters very different worldviews. I have laughed in these theaters, as Taylor told a story of dinosaur erotica and human vengance.
Fringe is about the sanctity of the full human experience. Last night another staff member shared a song, "A Little Bit of Everything" by the band Dawes. The song's last lines are
It's not some message written in the dark.
Or Some truth that no one's seen.
It's a little bit of everything.
I produce theatre and work as the production manager for the St Lou Fringe Festival because I believe that theater is a sacred art. The art we create, the stories we tell, the voices we unleash into the world have the potential teach us all together what is the meaning we are searching for. For me this festival and these venues are my reminder that there is holy ground in this world if we listen to the voice from the voices speaking inside them reminding us there is something greater than our individual selves.
The reason this art of theatre embodies the divine is that it reaches inside the soul of the producers and exposes that "little bit of everything" we all need to see. Come take off your metaphorical shoes, and share this pure moment with us, because this space is holy ground.
Lets make some Zoom Rooms Holy Ground