Saturday, November 1st, I was looking for something to do with my 18-year-old, Senior daughter that would spark higher thinking toward a mother-daughter dialogue, and that would also touch her heart. I found it in Witness Uganda.
I had looked on the Eccles Center performances site. Park City High School is only moments away, and we have attended a number of excellent events here…..inluding WARREN MILLER’s films!
It seemed that this event was trying to find me as well, because I had seen a happenings poster pinned to the board at Starbuck’s earlier in the day. Yes, it was. I thought this was happening for a reason, and so I called the box office and ordered tickets. To my surprise, the tickets were especially priced for teachers and students. This worked for me! In being more affordable, we would be able to go out to eat before and also buy some snacks to smuggle in. Also, this evening would satisfy as an Arts performance needed for my daughter’s EdNet humanities course requirement without being a big expense, and without a long drive to the city. I felt the Universe was conspiring in our behalf. It was.
The story was humanitarian in theme. It took a turn to political and along the way another round-about to controversial, in sexual persuation and in the potential for future uncertain safety of those players promoting the cause of education, and also in the care and keeping of the students involved.
This real life story is the subject of several amazing, original compositions which will in a year’s time comprise the body of a musical bound for Broadway, written by a young gay male partnership who spent several year in Uganda teaching and sponsoring the education of orphan youth.
Uganda is a beautiful country riddled by poverty and disease, primarily HIV. Death is rampant, a sad, daily reality, not soon forgotten. Young people who survive, where their parents have not, are left unsupported, and unable to pay for education. And so……entered Griffin, and later Matt, who organized a non-profit to subsadize the learning of ten or so students (year after year), that would have not otherwise been afforded the blessing of learning. Some of these students have and will go on from University to promising futures, bursting the bonds of poverty and for some of them, giving back and giving forward to others.
Among a multiplicity of strugglings was the stark reality of a Ugandan Law that penalizes individuals who are proven to be practicing homosexuality, or who know of others who do…but do not divulge. In practicing a same sex relationship, or in harboring one, a person can be sent to prison for 14 years. This made Griffin and Matt’s residence and humanitarian work in Uganda risky. In time, it also placed students at risk of losing all that they had so intensely worked and fought for.
The music was incredible with the country’s traditional African sound mixed in with story and email and memeroir. I am certain it will make a heartfelt narrative for the stage and for NYC and a national tour. However, I fear for the ongoing sponsorship program, for those students participating, and for Griffin and Matt. The secret of the founders’ homosexuality will assuredly not stay secret with the world wide web at society’s disposal, and with the internet so accessible to some maliscious people out there. Hard to believe that there are those in the world, whose sole purpose is to “stir” things, dosing liberally JUDGEMENT and even hate. I am truly afraid for this group of young people.
A Q&A Session followed the evening of music and story. This last exchange was really great. Many of my own questions were offered and some answers given in response. An edu-outreach would have occured today for Park City High School students. This would not happen in our District considering the content…I think. Our small town is much more conservative than Park City. And yet, this is the kind of dialogue that should be made available to all young people everywhere. I’m glad that Middle and I went.
I wonder what I can do, or anyone can do for that matter, to help this cause……short of going to NYC in a year to see the production. Donate money, no doubt. I could certainly stay with Jason in his new apartment….wherever that is. Yes. The girls and I and Mark could all go visit. I think we will be hearing more about this up and coming show “Project Uganda” in the months and years to come. I hope these caring, talented musician, philanthropists will find success, and peace of mind and heart for what they are attempting in behalf of beautiful humble, young Ugandans, with minds hungry for learning. We take so much for granted in the USA. That’s for sure. 🙂