“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
I feel like this quote really captured what I experienced last night. While I can’t explain the feeling I felt, I can tell you about how important the show was. Let me explain. Some time ago, these really nice guys decided to put up a free show in their garage and opened their doors (garage door) to anyone who wanted to play there. They called it the Shithole. There were no cliques and there were no restrictions. It was all about celebrating the arts. Nothing else. Standup, Improv, Sketch, Solo, and Musicians were all welcome. It went great and everyone loved it. It went so great they put up a second show at another location (an attic). 2 shows a week. Free. That went so well they had a FREE 4 day festival. They never slowed down and they haven’t taken a break.
Last night they had their 100th show. It was a freezing 15 degree night and we were all in a garage. We all sat and stood in a circle around the Shithole diagram drawn on the floor in chalk waiting for the show to begin. At the middle of the circle was the playing space aka theater in the round. Christmas lights were hung up on the ceiling, Shithole stickers were scattered around the floor, and music played while everyone chatted with one another. It was a dull roar. First of all, this isn’t like other shows. These shows feel like we all know each other. And if you don’t, people introduce themselves. “Hi my name’s _” is something that I regularly hear. It’s wonderful. There’s no ‘I don’t’ know you so I’m not going to talk to you’ feel to it. I sat next to someone I never met before, but I’ve seen around. We talked and found out we had a lot of things in common and he told me he was just there to watch. There were plenty of people just there to WATCH. There to watch a show in 15 degree weather in a garage. Another guy handed me extra hand warmers that he had picked up at the store. Why? Because he was just a damn nice guy. The whole garage was filled with nice guys and nice girls who were there to see people follow their dreams. The night went off without a hitch and every single performance shined. Throughout the show, the guys gave out handouts like t-shirts, mugs, beers, and tickets to a No-Doubt cover band concert.
There have been a handful of moments where I stop in my tracks as a performer to really take it all in. Last night was one of those moments. Sometimes we get caught up in the drama of auditions, teams, rental spaces, contracts, and business that we forget where we came from. At the Shithole, you never forget. It’s all about trust, love, and support in that room. I looked around at the (freezing) smiling faces and knew I was right where I needed to be. The show hit me emotionally and gave me all those feels because I felt like I was a part of something special. We were all in there, freezing our asses off because we enjoyed performing and we enjoyed supporting those doing what they love. I had the biggest smile on my face the entire night because it was a room filled with love. The night closed out with an amazingly talented musician who sang 3 songs. One of those songs being ‘Lean on Me’ which got everyone in the garage singing along. An entire garage of people singing ‘Lean On Me.’ It was beautiful. It was wonderful. It reminded me how special the arts are. For the final song, he sang one of his own songs while we held up candles to celebrate the closing of the 100th ever Shithole show. Luckily, I got it on tape.
In the end, this is what it’s all about. People coming together to support one another as they pursue their dreams. Nothing else.
This show cannot end. It’s just too important. Thank you Shithole and congrats on 100 shows.
Here’s to 100 (or 900) more.