The spirit of What I learned in Paris


I saw a play last night that changed my way of thinking about my life and how I wanted to pursue my life. It made me think of my history as an African- American and as a woman-and I was proud of the struggle and the rise. Hitting on topics that women should know about life; such as living, loving life, pursuing your vision of life and living your life for yourself- the play was filled with these innuendos.  There was self-discovery for each character and each character grew throughout the play, which only spanned a week.  Three different types of women living life, with three different ways of living, and three different outlooks on life all within the same era of transformation, Atlanta elected their 1st black mayor.  Empowerment for black people was in the air and pushing black people to do radical movements to better themselves and others around them.  During this play empowerment of self was important for each character and learning to empower themselves was important for strength and growth.  The play was What I learned in Paris, by Pearl Cleage.

The play, this amazing play, written by Pearl Cleage embodies these women and their hearts, this play embodies hope for black people politically-which is reflected today.  It pin points a time when hopes were high and optimisms were tainted with negative thoughts of the past and no positive thoughts for the future were prevalent for those who wanted to change the future for blacks in Atlanta.  This play if you listen, if you watch and if you feel will give you hope for your own self and for what you can accomplish for your own future- at least that is what it did for me.  Because I identified with Lena it made me think that life needed substance and that everyone should experience life to feel whole, and to feel alive.

Though I can identify with each character, I am sure each character can be seen in every woman who goes to see this play.  The way the character Evie describes her many adventures in life and about her truth was mesmerizing.  It made me want to go to places and learn my truth-to become a better version of what I could be.  Evie has spirit that evokes the essence of loving herself, loving who she is and not letting anyone get in the way of her spirit and how she feels about herself.  Her spirit, her energy, her love of life is intoxicating-no doubt the audience feels it also when watching her play. Evie’s growth in life is evident with her confidence, her poise and her mannerisms- she is an almost fulfilled woman.  Ana is the young inexperienced, unfulfilled young woman who wants to fit in.  She is living a life that for any other woman would be idealistic, however, deep in her heart she is not happy and secretly has another ideal life for herself, but she does not want to put hiccups in her current situation.  Her story is one any woman can identify with, who doesn’t want to fit in?  The exception of her wanting to fit in was that it was not about her needs and her heart, but about someone else who didn’t see her for her.  For her becoming her own woman she needs her own self-discovery, her own spirit explored and her own experiences in life to become her own self.  Once she realizes that her path was stunted and she needed to live her life for herself only and for her own dreams- Ana was on her way to becoming a better version of herself.

Then there is Lena, a strong independent woman, a woman who works hard, works for her living and is proud of it.  Lena has work goals and loves the challenge of meeting them- she is a fulfilled career woman, but has no love in her life and no plans to find them.  She is one of the characters who does not have a love interest and is alright with that, she is a woman who has no issues being alone.  She knows who she is and what she wants from life, though she is traveled, her auras about her travels are not as intriguing as Evie.  To have someone who can’t wait to get home to, to share her fears to, to love her unconditionally and to have a conversation with-Lena does not have this.  This was her challenge-to become a better version of herself, to be able to find someone who will love her for her characteristics and to be able to connect emotionally.  For me personally I feel that it was my challenge also, to give myself emotionally, her character was someone I could identify with because it is difficult to let yourself go into someone else.  So many fears come with the act of attaching your love to someone else, the fear of losing yourself in someone else’s dream and you forget yourself. The fear of as your loved one power grows, their mind will change from what you know and everything between you will be forever changed.  These fears mostly will leave us independent career-driven and strong women not wanting love-even though secretly we want love.

Now I have not mentioned the men in the play, but they were written in grace and style also.  They represented the type of black men I love, they were confident in their movement and purpose, they wore suits and they needed their women. These men showed their women how much they meant to them and that they were willing to give up a piece of themselves so that their women would be proud of them.  They fought for love- a love that was respectable and a love that gave them purpose.  These men showed characteristics that are rare in the 21st century, these men showed eloquence and respect for women.

All of the characteristics of each character-the passion to live a complete life of empowerment for black people to rise above the racism and to fight for what they believed in are all thoughts of another time and place.  A time and place where all types of people need to be reminded of where people were and where people are today.  I urge all who can to go and see this play and to take in the spirit for which it was written.  The spirit is to live and love life, the spirit is to fight for what you believe in and the spirit and courage to explore and identify yourself.  This play is a must see.