Not as Sleepwalkers
Honor Moore, "Theater Will Never be the Same," MS, December 1977.
Not as Sleepwalkers, was produced, by Susan Lowenberg at the Woman’s
Building in June 1977 and toured California that fall. Lowenberg was director of Los Angeles’s Artists in Prison, who has expanded the group’s work to include programs for ex-convicts and other culturally disadvantaged people.
Sleepwalkers was a collaboration among novelist and poet Deena Metzger, director Jeremy Blahnik, and 12 women.
Jeremy and I were trying to figure out how to facilitate a writing workshop for aged women, Metzger recalls.
We thought if we brought women in their twenties together with women over
sixty-five, something would happen. Each of the six older women was paired with a younger woman who was responsible for writing her life history and providing her with transportation to and from class. We started with thegiven that the older women are guardians of women’s culture, tribal elders to whom we don’t usually pay attention. They were charged with creating an initiation ritual for the younger women, who in turn were to invent a ritual to empower the older women as tribal elders.
Independently each group decided that hearing secrets from the other would be effective rituals.
The theater piece is the story of the process of forming the relationships and of telling the secrets. Reading Not as Sleepwalkers was for me profoundly moving, so powerful and courageous are the perceptions and admissions, so delicate the language (all classes were taped & its text was
culled from what was written by the women and transcribed from the tapes).
The final speech gives a sense of its tone: Denise, one of the young women, says, "I wrote ‘There is something that I have always wanted to tell you’
four times before it finally came out. The something that I wanted to tell you, older women, is that I don’t think that I ever really loved anybody in my family, actually really loved anyone in my family, except for my grandmother. And everything leads from that.