Ellen Morgan Butler
Sounds of the ocean and other gentle reverberations open the audio-essay as listeners are drawn into a reflective space. A voice intones over the speakers, describing an experience of self-doubt. Another voice chimes in as the other fades, calm and curious. A different story of self-doubt. A different revelation. The music continues as other voices coalesce, resolve, and fade. Common themes develop and diverge, telling an insightful sonic story about the ways doubts and fears can be shared.
The discussion going on through these well-produced interviews is both gentle and poignant. The interviewees are thoughtful and kind, but their anxieties are definitely present: Self-doubt arises from uncertainty over gender, sexuality, creative practice, cultural background, career advancement. As a listener, I could understand and relate to and feel the truth of these anxieties. But a big part of what the project accomplishes is offering space to reflect on such anxieties without being overcome by them.
Ultimately, there is no strain on the audience to feel any one way about the project. It is a refreshingly low-key experience. Like an invitation rather than a declaration. An invitation to meditate on the nature of self-worth but also on the connectedness of people within and across communities. An invitation into a conversation about mental health, empathy, and the value of community. I left feeling the utter not-alone-ness of people.
What’s the purpose of this project? Perhaps this is not a question but a suggestion: we can shape and affirm our purposes together.
What’s the Purpose of this Project? is on at Pyramid Club four times per night between 6pm & 9pm, March 4-6. Tea and snacks are provided post-show.