Preach: Here for It, #324

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

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I'm packing to go to Pittsburgh for a conference. Pittsburgh is one of my favorite cities despite the fact that I cannot recall what it is I like to see, do, eat, or experience there. I went once when doing research for a TV show I was working on and I had a fantastic time that I do not remember with any specificity. I am simply delighted to go have an amnesiac's vacation this week. Anything could happen in Pittsburgh!

David and I are going to the conference together, actually. Years ago he told me about the Festival of Homiletics, a gathering of some of the world's best preachers in various denominations and faiths. He waxed rhapsodic about the dynamic speaking and the rhetorical and performance skill on display. I found this idea fascinating--a place where people talk about and teach how to preach better. As a writer, particularly as a playwright, this intrigued me. David always said we should go together but I wasn't too keen on that for a while because--I'm going to be honest--it sounds like a week of church. This may surprise you, given that I am a Preacher's Wife, but I am not someone who wants to go to a week of church.

(I happily sat through both three-plus-hour parts of Angels in America in the same day on Broadway but sometimes in church I'm like "Wow, we're singing all four verses of this hymn? Getting a little late in the early afternoon here..." I contain multitudes!)

But then! I was talking with the artistic director of a local theater company and we were batting around ideas for new plays. And I've been thinking about a play that focuses on a faith leader or inspirational speaker who stops believing in what she's saying but still has to stay on message. And suddenly a week of church sounded like a great way to do research and get inspired. I wrote a grant to send me to the Festival to study what I called the Dramaturgy of Transformation--how do you write a speech that makes someone make a change in their lives? Is it limited to church spaces or places where people are already bought in? Can you preach in a theater? Can an audience walk out the doors transformed?

The Independence Foundation approved my grant and so now I'm going to the Festival! I'm very excited but I also keep looking at the schedule and saying to David "Hm. There sure is a lot of church at this church conference..."

They're def going to kick me out.

But! Before I am escorted from the building for saying too loudly "wow, praying again?" I hope that I learn something new and exciting about speaking charismatically and moving people. I hope that this church conference takes me to church.

Speaking of plays, audience are really loving An Army of Lovers! We got a fantastic review in the Broad Street Review and are Barrymore-Recommended (The Barrymores are our local theater awards, but if you want to think of this as Drew Barrymore grasping your hand and emphatically telling you to go see the show, I will allow it.)

We run for one more week! Come see the show!

Lastly, I have to shout out the incredible folks at Columbia, Maryland's Books in Bloom! It is one of the most well-organized, dynamic, and supportive book festivals I've ever done. I can't say enough about how great an experience I had down there. The organizers did a fantastic job and I felt so welcome.

I also had the privilege of meeting some of the students from Howard County Public Schools that I've been doing writing mentorship with, through a program organized by tireless HCPS hero Danielle DuPuis. Some of the students read from their work, which they're publish in a journal at the end of the school year, and I was bursting with pride.

Thank you so much to the people who came out to see me say truly inane things during my interview in the book tent. And thank you to the many people who came up to me at the book signing and said "I have never heard of you before but you said something deranged while I was walking by the tent, so I stayed and listened and now I've bought your book." My marketing and PR strategy is saying crazy things on microphones and it is working! It was just a wonderful day and I can't wait to go back to Maryland this coming weekend to join Helen Ellis in conversation at the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Invite me to your city's book thing! I will wear a nice jacket (probably) and I will overshare on a microphone (guaranteed)!

ALSO! Books in Bloom gave me this incredible gift bag! I love swag! I feel like an Oscar nominee!

The bag included slippers!!!

Let's hang out!

Come see An Army of Lovers, produced by Azuka Theatre and Simpatico Theatre at the Proscenium at the Drake, now through May 19.

On May 18th, I'll be at the Gaithersburg Book Festival with Helen Ellis! More info here!

On June 4th, I'm hosting The Moth Ball in New York, honoring Andre De Shields! Get tickets here!

On June 6th, I'm hosting the Moth Mainstage in Sommerville, Massachusetts! Get tickets here!

wow, praying again?,