12.01.2009

Two Men Talking


Today was World AIDS Day. I guess anybody who's visited Google today is aware of it. In honor of today (and of course, knowing I could write an extra credit paper on it for a class), I just experienced the play, Two Men Talking. I say experience, because that's what it was. I don't think anybody in that audience was unmoved. I didn't really know anything about it before I went. I just knew it was informal, unscripted, a conversation between...duh...two men. I knew it was a play, and it definitely was a play. It was so entertaining, witty; the two actors spoke in their South African accents in such an engaging manner it was difficult to look away or zone out into another world. The story was intriguing, creative...two little South African, Jewish boys meet for the first time in 1974 when a teacher asks them to be each other's partners in a little class project to tell one another their stories. Years later, these two cross paths accidentally in New York City, where they develop a close friendship. One is HIV positive. As the play continued on, I began to realize it wasn't just a show and that it certainly wasn't fictional. This play, this conversation was their story. This was it. They were sharing their very personal lives with the audience. They were openly speaking of such sensitive issues like AIDS and homophobia, religion and racism, directly impacting their lives. It was amazing to me. But what impacted me so much was not the issues, but simply the telling of the story itself.

One of the men, Paul, mentioned in closing how freeing and healing it was for him to be able to share his story and how powerful stories are-- not only for the teller, but also for the listener. Both are changed and healed. It is real. It is human. It is the best kind of therapy.

Isn't this what we all crave? To be able to tell our stories to those who will listen. And what amazes me about stories is their power, their ability to change minds, create awareness, mold worldviews, and emotionally involve the audience. Because of this play, I now feel emotionally tied to HIV/AIDS. Amazing. Everyone should be able to tell their story. It is a tragedy that not everyone is able to do this because of social stigma. It makes me wonder...how much do I hold back because of stigma and fear? More than I even realize.

I was reminded again of why I want to be a clinical social worker...to be a part of the healing, the freedom, the transforming power of a story. And to help individuals, if only in my own small ways, communicate and unleash their story.

Here's the website: http://www.twomentalking.com/. If you ever have a chance to experience Two Men Talking...then please do :). I don't think you will regret it!

photo credit: twomentalking

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