From P-Town… Forget about Band Camp
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
1. Mission Theater is on a fairly busy street near a Thai place and a coffee shop. I parked in front of a place that sells bathroom fixtures. 2. Jennie and Betony always come to Mortified. They said it unearths your own memories.
Mortified readers Sheila Ashdown, Kelly Fry, Julie Sparling, Ariel Wilsey-Gopp, Lori Ferraro, and Sam Paul shared personal journals and letters, co-edited by Egan Danehy and his team of producers, to a sold-out crowd at the Mission Theater on Valentine’s Day.
There is a cult following. I know this because they ask newbies to applaud. I did not applaud, even though this was my first show.
A few thoughts crossed my mind as I scanned the crowd. Do these people also go to lit events? Probably not, but maybe sometimes. What is the difference between an author reading and someone sharing their adolescent journals or letters? I guess we expect better writing craft, but you can’t fake the intensity and surprise of writing meant to explore, understand and document personal experience.
You get about 200% of intensity and surprise at a Mortified show, plus the crowd’s expectation that something someone reads will trigger a similar personal experience which they forgot or repressed or whatever.
1. Elliot, Reiko and Joel have journals and tell each other stories. Reiko had a Mortified-themed birthday. 2. Erin, Greg, Shain and Diane were all past performers and two of them are related. The line for beer is behind them.
I grabbed the following lines from a few of the readers:
- “I would probably regret it if I slept with the guy from Chevy’s.”
- “I love him like a pagan loves a God.”
- “I’m so lucky I got hit by Larry’s car.”
- “I really don’t like having to call you for rides when I want to see you.”
1. I grabbed the last seat around 8:10pm. Once the beer line got under control, I could even see the stage. 2. Julie Sparling has done a few Mortified shows, as well as local improv.
You also get to see people interacting with their past, which is a bit like someone reading their favorite author. Paul read from letters he wrote to Brenda while in rehab. I enjoyed hearing him read the slang from the inside to all of us on the outside. Cut off from the rest of the world (unless he got a pass), you can see the impact of that microcosm on his writing and thinking. Adolescence can be a bit like that for some people.
1. Backstage with Megan, Julie, Egan, Kelly and Lori.
Aside from the Tina Turner and Alanis Morrisette music played between readers, the show wasn’t campy. It also wasn’t daggers of reality hurled by tortured souls either. I’d say it was real people reminding you of what it’s like to be real.
— Judith Ossello currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Find her at www.writerloop.com.