PPA in the Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival

I've seen a few shows recently with Prison Performing Arts, and I've been nothing but impressed. I come in not knowing what I'm going to encounter, and I walk out always feeling like I can take on the world.

PPA's Alumni Theatre Company in the 2014 Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival photo by Jane Martin

PPA's Alumni Theatre Company in the 2014 Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival
photo by Jane Martin

Theatre is a great way to gain an understanding of others around you, as well as yourself, and I have thanked PPA many times for challenging me to understand others in a way I never imagined. PPA's production of Going Home in the Humanities Festival last month offered that same kind of discovery. Walking into The Stage at KDHX, I figured the play would be one that was like any usual production - beginning, middle, end, maybe with a Q&A. What happened, however, was quite different.

Before my eyes, I saw qualities that have been sadly lacking in some professional performances today: sincerity and enthusiasm. No one was announcing to me who they were, no one trying to prove to me that they were some kind of professional. Instead, each person was up there doing what theatre is supposed to do in the first place: tell a story. And what a story did they tell!

Through humor and reflection, PPA's Alumni Theatre Company shared with us the difficulty adjusting to everyday life after returning home from prison. It made me realize how much I take for granted: the simple handshake of trust between two people, the look of approval someone gives when hiring one for a job, and the ability to grow as a person and grow with others as a team in this big, crazy world. Each scene presented a unique perspective and opened new doors to my understanding.

There is another important lesson I learned from Going Home - everyone has the capability to change. Sometimes the person you thought you were is not always the person you really are or who you can become. That was one of the biggest realizations for me. I may think one way now, but I may have a different view on life in the next five to ten years. And if I want to change for the better, or take a brand new path in life, who is to say I can't?

At the end of the day, no matter what I do in life, what is the most important is that I keep one path near and close to my heart: the path going home.

Mollie Amburgey
Insight Theatre Company

 photo by Jane Martin