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Thursday, November 2, 2017

My Evening with Two Literary Rock Stars! Review: “Eve Ensler and Anne Lamott: In Conversation @ CAP UCLA Royce Hall 29 Oct 2017


Tags: cap ucla · center for the art of performance · eve ensler· anne lamott · royce hall
By Janeane Bernstein

As I sat eagerly awaiting UCLA’s Royce Hall event, “Eve Ensler and Anne Lamott: In Conversation,” I felt an incredible energy filling the room. The motto engraved in the elaborate ceiling, “Education is learning to use the tools which the race has found indispensable” was a reminder that we need to value what we have and use our passions, drive, and grit to make a difference in this crazy world right now.

You would think two rock stars were taking the stage from the feeling that filled the hall.  Tony award-winning playwright, performer, feminist and activist, Eve Ensler (best known for her groundbreaking play The Vagina Monologues) and bestselling author, memoirist, political activist, public speaker, and writing teacher, Anne Lamott are thought-provoking literary stars in the world of award-winning no-holds bar literature and theater. 

I felt that I was about to witness a conversation, which would be a rare gift to all in attendance. I was ready to take in every word, every thought, every bit of wisdom these game-changers had to offer. They represent what we should all aspire to be: bold, courageous, loving, compassionate, determined and resilient. And Eve and Anne hold nothing back when expressing their views on what a screwed-up broken, political mess we currently face. My kind of women.

Meryl Friedman, CAP UCLA’s Director of Education & Special Initiatives, was the perfect moderator keeping the 90-minute event running seamlessly for what she called, “our 1800 seat living room.” She began the evening by saying, “words are powerful, they engage us and make the impossible possible.” Below are some of the evening’s most poignant and memorable remarks. I left out the gorgeous ones with the f-bombs, because only the attendees were lucky enough for those hilarious moments!

  • In struggle, we are in survival mode. You have to have hope because that is all you have.
  • We have lost our ability to be bored, because of our obsession with technology. From boredom, we create. We need to disconnect from our phones and computers and let our minds roam into places we might not imagine.
  • We are broken, and history is laid before us. There is hope because of the people who stand up and organize, who stand up against racism and sexism, but we must continue to fight and break out of the patriarchy.
  • There is an obligation in writing to tell the truth in writing. The truth is the story and the story is the truth.
  • We can be our most wild, imaginative self, because we are so close to something that feels so catastrophic.
  • Sometimes you write badly and you don’t give up. Something comes into being against all odds.
  • Writing is torture with self-doubt, and there is a mental issue! You’ll have a good week and then nothing happens, but the most important part is showing up. I wrote myself out of a catastrophic childhood, despair, loneliness.
    I have to write. I do not have a choice.
  • There is a lack of listening, empathy and cohesiveness.
  • We have to look what is being done to us, and do the opposite.
  • We need to listen, experience joy, dance, be silly, and love. All these are radical acts.
  • We have a choice to listen to our soul. Listen to where your soul wants to go. You are on the path. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says.
  • My Dad didn’t wait for inspiration. He would be hungover and sick, but still get up really early. He wrote eight books and had three kids. Being a creative type came from discipline. You just do it. Perseverance is a habit and a conviction. This is what I do now.
  • Writing is struggle. You get worn down and find the shape of self.
  • Be true to yourself.
  • Have a love of detail. Love the specific.
  • You sit and stare into space hunting and gathering. You get an idea that leads to another. Everything you do feeds that idea. Writing is deeply lonely work. Listen to music, light candles, have rituals for your loneliness.
  • Expectations are resentments under construction.
  • Sometimes I think what I wrote is great and the other part of me says I am a big faker!
  • I don’t know who I am going to become next, who I am going to evolve to. I know who I was. My cancer took me. I had amazing experiences and now I live in the country and it’s incredible.
  • Don’t do one thing! Expand NOT brand!
  • Every single day, I give someone money. I am a cranky optimist. Humor saves me and so does compassion.
  • We are in a global emergency. 850 million people are living in hunger! We are being called to our deepest selves. We need community. We need a posse. We need groups.
  • That place you are afraid what will the world think? That is where you should go!

Wrapping up the evening, Eve and Anne read excerpts from their powerfully moving work. Eve’s “I am Over Rape” ended the night with all of us on our feet.

The conversation between Eve Ensler and Anne Lamott was gripping, a hug for the soul, as well as a reality slap to stay strong and fight apathy, sexism, and discrimination. The conversation between Meryl, Eve and Anne was a rallying cry that we need to stand up, be bold, have courage in the face of adversity, follow our hearts, look up and pay attention. Stay true to your own meaningful journey; it’s yours and no one else’s. If we show radical acts of love and compassion, imagine what the world would look like.

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