“Three years ago, I felt my soul move so passionately that it enthralled me. I’d never felt more vulnerable to a calling as an actor or less able for the challenge than in that moment.”
It was in Toronto, Canada in the exhibit hall of a music conference. I found myself talking with a musician and activist Si Kahn about his many new and various projects. I confessed to him that, in addition to being a radio host, I am an actor who tours an original solo show. His eyes leapt and he told me about his play Mother Jones in Heaven. I had goosebumps all over as he spoke passages and sang verses of songs. I felt an eternity moment right there in the lobby of the Hilton; as if I was handed my future wrapped up in two acts of dialogue and song. I knew I had to do this show. I felt as if Mother Jones tapped me on the shoulder and said “get to work.”
Over the past three years, I have been getting to know the show. I have resisted it, and Mother Jones persisted. I have presented excuses and Mother Jones countered with passionate sermons on the evils of cowardice. I have paced the floor trying to talk myself out of the project, and Mother Jones sat brooding in the corner of my mind giving me The Eye.
And yet I know one thing for sure. We need Mother Jones and we need her now. One of the ways her particular brand of hell-raising for the good of the working class is going to be heard, requires that I get off my ass and start singing.
We come into this world with natural gifts that are the tools with which we express our life force. Some people, like Mother Jones (and author Si Kahn), organize groups into armies to ensure health care and safe working conditions for the good people of this world. The stunning fact that 100 years after her time, we are still dealing with the same issues hit me like a bolt of lightning. So, I am picking up my tools and I am going to work. My tools are performance based. I bring stories to life using language, (verbal, non-verbal, and musical), so that the life and work of Mother Jones will inspire the next generation of hell-raisers for the good of the planet. – Vivian Nesbitt Sept 21, 2017