Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Looking for a City: Video from Sister Myotis's New York opening

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 7:38 PM

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I've watched Steve Swift's Sister Myotis character evolve for the better part of a decade now. I've seen Sister preach her gospel in a variety of public settings and have also observed as Swift labored over his creation in a semi-private writing workshop with Tongue of a Bird playwright Ellen McLaughlin. But familiarity doesn't always foster understanding. Sometimes a change in scenery is necessary in order to fully appreciate an artist and his or her work.

Myotis is clearly a mighty, mighty warrior for the Lord but Swift's character never actually quotes scripture or mentions Jesus by name. I've noted all of this in previous reviews but for some reason the choice really stood out in the New York performance. Over a snack at the Chelsea Street Market the man behind the wig and the corsage and miles and the miles of matronly bosom explained why he does what he does: He makes fun of church politics not religion.

"Every culture's idea of paradise is exclusive," Swift says. "It's attractive because there are groups of people who are going to be left out." By carefully building his shows around this idea Swift and his creative partners in Voices of the South have developed a comedy that's completely political but never partisan. Bible Camp is a show that gets Conservative Christians and gays laughing together. And if that's not a miracle, I don't know what is. So for those who couldn't make it to see Sister Myotis's Off-Broadway opening, here's a little taste of how things went down in, "The Big ol' Rotten Apple."

UPDATE: The Memphis Flyer cover package "New York Minute" is now online. Also available, interviews with Swift's Bible Camp co-stars Todd Berry and Jenny Odle Madden. The complete interview with Memphis playwright Katori Hall is here.

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