WHY WATER FALLS, a winner at 13th Street Playhouse

By Inola M. McGuire

The performance of the evening is “Why Water Falls” by Leigh Curran, directed by Mary Pat Gleason; and starring Leigh Curran.

The stage setting with the props complements the one-woman show. The audience sees the performer as she sits on the chair and begins her performance. She writes on the notepad and she throws a few pieces of paper on the floor before she introduces the audience into the world of Leigh Curran in the year of 1964. Her mentioning of this particular year allows the audience to reflect on its own life in that year. Ms. Curran takes the audience back in the time to the back-alley abortion days in America.

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All along, there are two characters in her head who are trying their best to be recognized on paper; and there is Jessica, the producer, who hopes to get Leigh to write something meaningful to present to her. However, Ray, the 17-year old farm-girl character, wants her story to be told. Her friend Stevie, a 20-year old, who lives in New York City life story is very much different to her friend’s Ray. Ms. Curran ponders over a few catch phrases, for example; “Why water falls?” “Why lemons are sour?” These could be hers or the thoughts of her characters, but these phrases were food for thought on the part of the audience.

As her performance moves forward, Leigh places a small plate next to a bottle. It is a Haitian sequin bottle, Danbala, dealing with the spirit of love. The audience gets an education on the reference of the bottle and what it represents. One has to present an offering next to the bottle; and Ms. Curran shows the audience how it is done through her demonstration.

Leigh continues to entertain and inform the audience as she reflects on the story she needs to write about Ray and Stevie; and the life she had lived between 1964 and 1986. Her marriage ended in 1986. Within this time, she spoke about a second abortion in June 1978. By this time in the US, the Rowe v. Wade, 410 U.S., 113 (1973), the landmark decision on abortion by the United States Supreme Court had already passed; and she went to an abortion clinic to have had the procedure done. She was able to pick up the pieces after her abortion with the man in her life for many years. However; her marriage didn’t survive because of a few factors beyond her control.

The turning point in Leigh’s life came when she was invited to become a part of the 52nd Street Project. During this time in her life, she begins to recognize an urge to make it up in life for her two pregnancies. She reached out to her friend, Jessica. She was able to be a part of how to write plays and grand writing opportunities. She was able to change the course of her life through her work with children. Leigh was able to examine her life and the decisions she had made prior to her new life. In her monologue, the audience recognizes the changes in her perception of life.

Leigh gives the audience a glimpse of her transformation from being afraid to become someone who has developed a welcoming spirit for life. In 1992, her efforts brought characters to life through the Virginia Avenue Arts. She informs the audience as to the specific tools that she used to assist the children with their writing. Conflict is always present in a story. It is up to the writer to make it as hard as possible between or among characters to get what they want. In reality, it is the same for the performer and the audience.

In the process, Leigh thinks about Ray’s faith. There is more to the story of Ray and Stevie. In Leigh’s case, Margaret moves in with her; and she brings a family with her that becomes Leigh’s extended family. Leigh’s participation in the care of Margaret’s grandchild has brought joy into her life. The experience of motherhood has changed the color of Leigh’s heart from dark to crimson red.

The writer and performer is able to get her message across to the audience. In many cases, some women have chosen their careers over motherhood. In view of Leigh’s case, the joys of motherhood reaches her at a ripe age of 70. Perhaps she missed out on having a life of bliss with the concept of motherhood in the 1960s and 1970s, but she gets the opportunity to reconcile with what could have been for her as a younger woman. I surely recommend this performance to all.

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