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A Letter to Cynthia Hopkins

Dear Cynthia, How are you doing? I’m really looking forward to seeing your performance this weekend. Did you know that the first show I saw in conjunction with the Walker was Accidental Nostalgia? It was part of Out There in 2005 and I was 14. I participated in theater at school, but Accidental Nostalgia broadened […]

dear cynthia photo

Dear Cynthia,

How are you doing? I’m really looking forward to seeing your performance this weekend. Did you know that the first show I saw in conjunction with the Walker was Accidental Nostalgia? It was part of Out There in 2005 and I was 14. I participated in theater at school, but Accidental Nostalgia broadened my sense of what theater could be. It was a bit different from Ann of Green Gables or The Hobbit: a Musical, and I loved it for that reason. Over the past seven years I saw your other two shows at the Walker and grew alongside the performances. I started noticing different themes, and I related to the themes in different ways.

During this past year, I have been fascinated with memory. In an age when computers can remember so much information, I wonder how we as humans relate to memory and forgetting. I have been asking the question, “If computers can remember so well, is it really forgetting that makes us human?” I see the idea of forgetting as being very loose and more in line with “abstraction”–that we are able to meld our different past experiences in order to figure out what to do in the future. I see this as a different way of looking at forgetting and it makes me wonder if forgetting is a bad thing at all.

Your past work has dealt a lot with memory and forgetting, and I imagine This Clement World is also looking at these ideas. Even though I think that forgetting may be what makes us human, it does come with some consequences. Last December marked the 150th anniversary of the mass hangings of Dakota people in Mankato. Living in Minnesota, we heard a lot about this tragic event, but it has not always been so. It was written out of the majority of histories. This writing out or erasing of certain events could be considered a kind of forgetting.

Cynthia, I wonder what you think about this idea of forgetting and climate change? Are we currently writing it out of our memory?

This also makes me think about dealing with traumatic events on a large scale. How do we cope? How do our future generations cope? What I’m wondering specifically is when is the line crossed between the importance of remembering history and forgiving past generations? This is an interesting line, the line between remembering and forgetting. They each have their benefits and disadvantages.

I look forward to seeing your work through the lens of my experiences. I hope to relate it to my interest in memory and look forward to seeing other ideas you bring to the table on this and other subjects.

Thanks for your work and making me think.

Sincerely,

Nicola