Friday, March 01, 2013

Intersections


Intersections
Martin McCaffery

If Martin McCaffery, Director of the Capri Theater in Montgomery, AL, ever offers to take you on a tour of Montgomery, say “Yes!”  I said yes on behalf of my mother Ginny and myself and was glad I did.  I used the Montgomery screening as an excuse for a family reunion, and met my mother, who lives in Venice, Florida, at the Atlanta Airport as I drove from Madison, GA to Montgomery.

As with the other stops on the tour so far, I have never been to Montgomery.  I knew the city was an epicenter in the Civil Rights movement, but I had no idea how close one place is to another: Martin Luther King Jr.’s church is just a block or two down the street from the Alabama State Capital where the march from Selma to Montgomery ended and is precisely across the street from the Alabama Supreme Court building.  The church is also within a few blocks of where slaves were sold before the Civil War, after being brought in from the river. 

As we were getting out of his car in downtown Montgomery, Martin asked whether we liked monuments.  I am not crazy about looking at monuments, but I just followed him up the marble State Capitol steps and across its manicured grounds to a monument to the Confederacy’s three flags, something I never would have stopped to examine without him. Martin is very sharp about pointing out the difference between what is being said and what is going on behind what is being said - and explained in his dry, humorous way that although the Confederacy lasted only four years, it had three flags.  The first, it was decided, resembled the Union flag too much.  The second had the St. Andrews Cross in its upper left hand corner and the rest of the flag was white.  It was decided that when this flag was unfurled, it looked too much like the flag of surrender.  So it was replaced by yet another flag.  Never having spent any of my adult life in this region, I was fascinated. 

Next we visited the three statues on the grounds of the state house: Jefferson Davis, a legislator, and the father of modern gynecology, who, Martin pointed out, was doing his work prior to the Civil War and must have experimented on female slaves to learn what he learned. 

And then, a very short walk from the state house, near the Southern Poverty Law Center, is Mya Lin’s Civil Rights Memorial. Carved into a vertical piece of black granite is a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., “Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” In front of that is a unique fountain in which water flows over a flat oval shaped table like surface in which significant dates in the Civil Rights struggle are carved in a pattern radiating from the center. 

Hank Williams and his ex-wife are buried on top of a hill in a Montgomery cemetery.  People go to his grave to watch the sunrise. Did you know there is a typo in his ex-wife’s head stone? 

And then, as if there needed to be more juxtapositions of present and past ironies, Martin then took us to the intersection of Jefferson Davis Avenue and Rosa Parks Avenue. 

It was kind of a thrill to see TRUST on the Capri’s marquee that night.  My niece Ami DuBois, who is a Ph.D. candidate in physics at Auburn University and is preparing to defend her dissertation this fall, drove to Montgomery with her boyfriend Adam for the screening.  

Nancy with Cheryl Hardley from STAR
Cheryl Hardley from Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), the Montgomery counseling center, joined us for the screening and discussion with the audience.  The discussion after TRUST often ranges widely, from the transformative power of theater to prevention of child sexual abuse to filmmaking. But when someone from a local rape crisis center joins us, there are always questions about trauma and sexual violence, and it always feels like people in the audience learn something new. 

Some film school students in the audience were very complimentary of a structural device we used in TRUST – returning several times in the course of the film to APTP’s sacred story telling circle where Marlín tells her story to the company.  This was an idea Kenji had after he input the footage of Marlín telling her story when she spoke for an hour and forty five minutes.  Kenji’s idea was to structure the film so that Marlín told her story in parts and when each part ended, the audience would think the stakes couldn’t get any higher, and then, when we cut back to Marlín telling her story, the stakes in her story would get higher. 

Martin made our visit to Montgomery a lot of fun – and an education.