Re: Tap Me on the Shoulder – Home Performance Series
Dear Prospective Hosts and Organizers,
Hello, my name is Adar, and I am delighted that you are considering helping to bring a home performance of Erika Kate MacDonald’s one-woman show Tap Me on the Shoulder to your community. My wife Nora and I live in Evanston, Illinois, and together with Erika we organized a similar performance of the show in our own neighborhood earlier this year. We are writing to strongly encourage you to be involved in this transformative community experience, and give you a sense of what your role can be.
Erika contacted us last spring and mentioned that she would be passing through our area while on tour with her show. She did not have any performances scheduled in Illinois, and we wanted to see it. We have a wonderful community here in Evanston, so together we came up with the plan to find a space where she could perform the show for us and our friends and neighbors. I was familiar with Erika’s past work and so I knew the experience would be worthwhile, but even I was not prepared for the remarkable evening it became. New friendships were formed while people discussed the performance. We lingered long after it ended.
Tap Me on the Shoulder is as much an experience as it is a play. It is a piece of theater; it tells the true story of how Erika, a white woman from rural New Hampshire, unexpectedly started rapping when she was a young adult, living and teaching yoga in Brooklyn. The story itself is delightful and at points surprising (and she performs several original raps as part of the show!), but its primary themes of home, resilience, community, and creativity were made even more powerful for me because I experienced the show in the intimacy of a living room in my own neighborhood.
We approached some friends of ours, Beth and Andrew, who have a living room space that met Erika’s requested needs and who were enthusiastic about being involved in this experiment. Together with Beth and Nora, Erika thoroughly rearranged the living room, creating a stage area, simple but effective lighting and sound, and audience seating (a mix of chairs, couches, and floor seating), primarily from furniture and other features that were already present in the room. There were a few more things Erika needed, so Nora and I brought over an ottoman and a standing lamp and a few extra chairs that we had. We talked over and divided up our roles: I collected donations at the door, Erika greeted audience members and handed out programs, while Nora and the hosts put together some refreshments they wanted to offer after the show.
Erika set up a Facebook event so that we could invite people that way, and she handled the RSVPs and sending out directions. When we reached about 25 RSVPs we felt that was enough for the space we had. When people started arriving, I don’t think any of them really knew what to expect. There is definitely an element of adventure to showing up for an unusual event like this! But throughout the event and for weeks afterward, I did not stop hearing how much people loved it, and that it was a very exciting theater event for them. I was struck by the powerful connections Erika’s performance made possible. Our friends came from lots of walks of life, and it was moving to see unlikely freindships flourish in the post-show conversations that rippled around the apartment.
This was a wonderful event to be a part of, and if it sounds like something your community would enjoy I hope you will consider hosting, or else work with a friend who has a space you think would work well. It was great for the four of us to get to work together on this, though I think you could definitely do the organizing and hosting with just two people and it would be fine. It will take a bit of time and energy, but not as much as you might think, and the rewards are well worth it.
I look forward to seeing where this show goes from here. Congratulations in advance on your adventurous spirit and openness to being a part of it!
Adar and Nora