27 February 2016

Thirty Million Minutes: Dawn French, Billy Crystal and memories


Last night I went to see Dawn French (Vicar of Dibley) in a one-woman stage show with the name 30 Million Minutes. It was the story of her 58 years, which amount to almost 50 million. Give or take a few thousands. After a few minutes I was reminded of another stage show I saw of the same ilk. Billy Crystal, starred on Broadway and we saw that one. 700 Sundays tells the stories of his youth, growing up in the jazz world of Manhattan, his teenage years, and finally adulthood. The Tony Award-winning show is a funny and poignant exploration of family and fate, loving and loss.

Billy's title comes from the 15 years worth of Sundays he and his father Jack Crystal shared before Jack died. Dawn's story was similar in length, in production, in video retrospective, and in pain of searing loss. Both of their dads died when the kids were teens. Both come from very loving families. But while Crystal's show would have been rated PG, Dawn's family history was rated MA-15, to be sure. I know way too much about sexuality from her, and her body parts. This, by the way, is NOTHING compared to the raunch of Brad Garrett (Everybody loves Raymond) which I witnessed in Melbourne two years ago. (For the photos from there, see my Flickr site here

Still, "I remember" was a major phrase in both stories. Certainly in Dawn's story telling. And her stories were great, of her grandmothers, of her dad, her mom, brother who still is at the ready to listen to her, and so many dots on her family notations. The Queen Mother's visit, Dawn's rocking horse fence, her marriage and its breakup...all are introduced with "I remember."

As Jewish people, we have many ways to remember things. Straps of leather wrapped around our arms in the morning, strings attached to major body garments, wedding rings, even lit plaques are all designed to call to mind former things.
Triggering memories is useful if you want to gain from the past.
Memories are useless if you want to live in the past.
The past is a great place from which to have come, but a poor substitute for the future.

When I say the word "memory" what is your first thought? Your childhood? Yesterday's lunch? The game you won? The pass you dropped? Learn from those moments, or those years. And let's become the people we should be, with learning accomplished and hope established.

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