Zoe @ ‘Hurricane Diane’ - God is a woman

What’s it about?

A tired Greek goddess heads to New Jersey in 2019 with a mission to return the Earth to its natural beauty — one soccer mom at a time.

My experience.

Okay friends: Listen up!

Imma get to the play itself, I promise. But first, I must explain the low-key, soul-lifting experience I had before the even show began.

I was sitting in a really great seat a few rows from the front. I didn’t think much of it when an old, tired-looking woman moved down the row and sat next to me. Most of the audience filing in was of the 60-plus age group, and let’s be honest, that’s the norm at most theatrical events.

She began to make small talk with me. It was pleasant. I learned that she was 92 and blind in one eye. The conversation hit a natural lull, and I assumed that was the end of it. And then she hit me with some real shit.

She said, “I want to know about you. Who are you?”

tenor.gif

First of all: I don’t know WHO the fuck I am.

I mean, really. Second of all, how often do you find yourself faced with a question like that in everyday life? I can answer that for myself: rarely. The truth is that most people don’t actually want to learn about other people. It’s a big risk, opening yourself up to learning about others. You never know what you’re going to hear. When I recovered from the shock of what she had asked me, I was instantly taken with this woman. She was fearless. Maybe it was because she was old, but I could tell that she didn’t say or ask anything that she didn’t mean. So I opened my mouth and began an attempt at explaining who I am. And to my surprise, the words that came out felt true. I don’t know how I was able to summon an explanation of myself that was richer than a series of bullet points about what I do for a living, where I’m from and where I went to school, but it came pouring out. It was fucking INTIMATE.

The best part about opening up to this random woman was that she then opened up to me. She told me about the man she had loved her entire life, through two marriages with other men, with whom it never worked out because he lived in Hawaii and she couldn’t see herself living there. She told me about her life in Italy where she was a model on the pageant circuit. She told me about her first marriage which brought her to New York, where she began volunteering for NYU Langone Medical Center and engaging in activism to make science accessible. She told me she’d always wanted to be a scientist, and she still works for NYU Langone to this day.

Then she looked at me, straight on, and said, “Well I can’t see much about you, but I can see that you have gold flecks in your hair.”

“Can you see that I have big curly hair? That’s usually the first thing people notice about me.”

”I can see that you’re very pretty. Very pretty — beautiful.”

Maybe it was because she was a total stranger, or because she herself was stunning, or because she was so deeply fucking straightforward and honest, but I literally choked back tears.

“Thank you,” I managed to say. “So are you.” And then the show began.


I don’t think I believe in God, and I’m not even particularly spiritual. But I do believe that sometimes the connections between things are purposeful somehow, that maybe there is a force in the universe that draws things together or apart.

In Hurricane Diane, Dionysius — the god of wine, fertility, ritual madness and theatre — is a badass butch lesbian, disillusioned with the trajectory of her beloved Earth and its selfish human inhabitants. She arrives in New Jersey in 2019 disguised as a landscaper with a secret plan to radicalize a handful of wealthy suburban ladies, mobilizing them in her mission to return the Earth to its natural, healthy state. Some of the housewives are easier to convince than others.

The play as a whole felt like a warning from the past and the future to the present. We have to care about the world we share. We have to stop denying our inherent ties to the Earth we walk on and inhabit. It also felt like a celebration of the power that comes from women (ALL women) across generations, centuries, time and place, gaining strength from one another. Of course, I couldn’t help framing what I was seeing with the conversation I’d had before the play began.

My experience of the first 3/4 of the play was that it was basically a light and comedic exploration of the connection between climate change, class, gender and sexuality. I was blindsided a bit (in a good way) by the profundity of the story’s final moments. I had decided by the time the lights went up that I enjoyed the performance a lot. I turned to my new friend and asked her what she thought.

She smiled. “I couldn’t hear a word of it.”

“Really?” I asked, incredulous. “I think they have hearing aids for these performances.”

It’s quite alright,” she said. And it seemed like she meant that.

Then we shook hands and she disappeared into the night. Sort of like a mysterious, otherworldly being.

SEE IT:

SAW IT?

Tell us about your experience.
In the comments below.