On experiencing the second sold-out performance of ‘Eggshells and Honey’: Before it begins the rooftop crowd gathers energy— stark shadows sparking on frigid concrete, a dry chill rides the air. Talk turns to eggshells, how paying for calcium supplements is a waste of money; women should just dry their spent egg shells, grind them, and stir the powder into anything, dissolve it on the tongue, snort it— the conversation dissolves into giggles. I’m thinking about white women kneeling on pedestals of match sticks watching smoke lift, choking— I am thinking about identity. White/Woman. I am thinking about my own propensity for victim-claiming, transcendence. Technical Director Jordan Daniels opens the door. The show has already begun.
EYEBALLZ & HONEY
Balmy 90’s pop spills from the blue’d cave of Mesa Art Center’s acting studio.
Body-width strips of white paper stretch ceiling to floor
taped to the rigging, anchored by bricks. Accompanying music videos
splice between swaths, snippets of action, slices of wanton face.
It takes a few moments to notice Julie Akerly (Creator/Performer)
crouched over a mixing bowl in the back, sheer black robe trailing— cool.
Rising, paint-brush in hand she scrawls something—
taking up space. Moving to fresh piece, an image evolves stroke by stroke,
cold honey beads drip from fresh-painted vulva lips.
From Natalie Imbruglia the soundtrack slips into
silence, a collective holding of breath.
“Can you hear me?”
From behind the honey-scrawl painting.
Again, “Can you hear me?”
I want to say, “Yes.” Instead, exhale held breath.
An invitation to bear witness with upturned palm, closed eyes—
To feel the inside. Eyes tease open. I can’t do it tonight.
My vessel already so full that it might spill over,
“It takes a lot of courage to say ‘No’.”
Julie’s voice is a balm cooling warm ears.
I watch the honey beads inch floorward.
Each outstretched hand receives the gift of knowing,
an invitation to unwrap, to feel, to listen.
One tiny ball falls from someone’s palm, rolls across the floor—
truth of the moment, levity, shared smile in darkness.
Then, mood shifts red, double entendre sex and scare, scream.
A sultry crescendo of innuendo builds, diminished proximity.
How we beckon our own ball and chain. Or, brick. Tape to skin.
Julie’s commanding and consoling body is bold and breaking.
Is fervent, tempestuous. Is painfully specific, precision of language and pain.
Her rhythm balks and builds- tenuous, tempting, gorgeous, pouring into rage.
Then, it’s intermission. Voices pile on echo. Excitement, exclaiming over the temptress. In 9 minutes flat Daniels has transformed the studio: A simple circle of chairs; dim yellow light melting its edges into darkness.
EGGSHELL STERNUM/PELVIC NERVE
Allyson Yoder (Creator/Performer) is curled up, fetal
on a black box folded into the circle of chairs.
It is silent, but for shuffling and breathing. Soft.
Bit by bit, sound like ping pong balls dropping from a low height
clinking, crackling. Just a subtle are the motions of waking.
Allyson explores to the edges of her black-painted pedestal. Recoils.
(What is the symbolism of painting it black?)
Pause, watching us watch her. Gazing back. Curious? White polo crop
mock turtle neck, sleeveless & red shorts, elastic in the waist—
epitome of American Apparel dream girl taking it all in. Innocence
or, ignorance illuminated by the intensifying yolky sunshine.
Dear diary begins, and we sit all together listening to the swelling
shame, sallow anger. Allyson is looking down as though her
own recorded voice rakes against soft skin.
“But then, I’ve always bruised easily.”
Moving with measured purpose around the perimeter
Allyson incites a moment of eye contact with each of us.
Glowing. When I notice the burgundy tendons suspending
small eggs breath bates, my own sternum cave gives pelvic
shake shiver— nervous system quivers. The tension
between power and fragility.
The moments between movement
are luscious, lengthy, contemplative, baring.
I am eavesdropping on the most intimate of recollections:
“Little Animals” procured for a collection. Ballerina
bowing in her music box. A dad voice resonates,
“You may want to pass this on to your children
so, take good care of it.” Figures? Figurative.
White privilege: a collection of empty eggshells
corralled carefully under the pedestal. Ping-pong sounds
makes sense now, hollow shells rolling against one another,
cracking, smashing, dropping.
With playful exactitude: scatter and retrieve. Repeat.
Allyson breaks my heart and pulls the pieces to her
like lost bits of eggshell. With stunning clarity of conflict
living in each feature, every gesture, a galaxy of implication.
Bobby Brown’s sound score is elegant and eviscerating—
it hollows me out, the delicate build of breaking.
Cacophonous puzzle. Supple and intense.
A summer storm of shame and candor.
Then, we sink into silence.
Mab Segrest writes, “My comic sense … encourages my white
self not to hate its self since I can change. For white women
doing anti-racist work, one of our chief challenges is overcoming …
despair brought about by an increased understanding of our white heritage.
The sense of humor is also the sense of faith and trust and hope.”
Allyson embodies no less than this:
vital sense of humor and candid openness of spirit in
the examination of fragility and privilege.
What is ‘Eggshells and Honey’ to me? Two solo works connected by crochet nerves and a paintbrush full of honey; a conversation between friends. The inherent right to feel and to take up space, to choose. It’s claiming the power in taking responsibility for choices made. It’s a fist raised resisting domination culture; two brave women baring exquisite skill and soul to break through socialized white supremacy and victimhood.
Ada McCartney is a Theatre Teaching Artist with Childsplay, an introvert who loves performing, and a writer. She most recently worked as an actor and writer with the Last Line Theatre Collaborative. Ada received her BA in Liberal Arts from Kalamazoo College where she focused on creative writing and theatre.