Greetings, CPT followers! In recent news, we hit the $1000 mark in our Indie GoGo fundraising campaign, found a place to perform our previews in Blacksburg, launched our teenage improv class, and have finished blocking The Pavilion. In other words, we are well on our way! But last Friday, we had an extra special opportunity to fulfill a crucial part of Critical Point Theatre’s mission.
If you didn’t know, part of that mission is that,
“We aim… to function as a public forum for community conversation in order to maintain a thriving local democracy.”
It’s important to us that we remain engaged with our audiences — that is, we want the audience integrated into the performance. We were thinking about ways we could mesh The Pavilion into community life here in southwest Virginia, when an idea sprung up. Our play is about the words that have remained dormant and unsaid between a pair of individuals for years, even decades. We decided that the best way to promote the show around Blacksburg was performance art that allowed people to express their unsaid feelings.
From this came the Blacksburg Love Letters campaign. It’s funny, because we live in such a wonderful community that allows for a wide range of street art. The Sidewalk Stage program in Blacksburg allows performers to showcase their stuff anywhere downtown, and we wanted to take full advantage. Additionally, the town has been rolling out several love-themed campaigns recently. From the new LOVE mural at the old Armory building to the “Love where you live” slogan, we see love everywhere around Blacksburg lately. Our campaign gives community members passing by pens and paper, and asks them to write down a letter to another person. What would you want to say to someone, if you could? The letters are anonymous. When the letter is finished, it’s put in a box, from which our ensemble members and trained actors will pull a letter from the box to read aloud to the crowd. In other words, the lingering thoughts you’ve always wished to say have the opportunity to be heard, out into the crowd.
We thought this would be cathartic and fun — and we were right! Sure enough, we had plenty of foot traffic out on North Main Street near College Avenue because Downtown Blacksburg was hosting an ART CRAWL — so not only were people out, art lovers were everywhere. Creekmore Law Firm helpfully hosted us on their porch, and we were set to go under the helpful direction of PM Deborah Cline. While it was slow at first, we ended up getting a crowd going. Some confessions were silly, others quite serious. One of my favorites is posted on this blog — a beautiful statement about loneliness. We also had some foreign students come by who were eager to participate, even though they mentioned that they had limited skills in English. One of their letters is posted here as well. We had teenagers, attorneys, college professors, and seniors alike contribute their thoughts and feelings. The final collection of letters is below — how amazing! We’re keeping them to be able to eventually display visually, a patchwork quilt of love expressed in Blacksburg.