Stacks and stacks of white boxes line the inside hallway of Crossroads Bible Church, each of them filled with blue pamphlets and cards, ready to be handed to anyone and everyone who even takes an interest in our performance. Yards of fishing line, spools of white blackout fabric, and the blue flannel are coiled in tiny heaps in the church’s alcove. It looks like an entire team of tailors, graphic designers, and photographers have been through here and used it as their dumping ground, but in reality there are only 6-8 of us at any given time.
It’s Wednesday morning. Ten AM.
I’m breaking open the newly mounted dramaturgy panels and laying them out on the circular tables for Rena to hang. The text is printed a light blue, shadowing the maps of Grand Rapids that Ryan has altered to imitate cyanotype style printing. It is very strange to see my words in print. It’s been so long that I even stop and stare for a while before Rena whisks them away to hang on the installation being swiftly constructed behind me.
I’m not a technical man, despite what some people might think. When I move things, it’s usually in the emotional or logical sense. I prefer to use my words rather than my muscles.
But here, even I am required to do my part. I argue with Rena and Ryan about poster height and placement before coming up with a suitable compromise. Thread electrical lines. Tape places where light is coming through. Repeat as needed.
This entire week, I might even say the entire process, has exhausted every ounce of energy I have, and this is it’s apex. There is no time left. We reach inside ourselves and hope to find hidden reserves we’ve forgotten. Every time I look over, the installation has mutated into a different shape, like some draping indigo fungus.
Twelve o’clock comes around. ArtPrize officially opens. Thank god that our venue doesn’t open until five, I think, and throw up a whispered prayer to the ever shifting and faceless deity that seems to be in control of my life. It’s not that I’m not grateful for the god of this church. He’s organized this institution. He gave me breath. But he’s said to be predictable, with rules and an entire science dedicated to his goodness, his redemptive work in the world.
Predictability is not something I have ever known, and so my deity is warped and mutable. I prefer him that way. As an empty space where I can lob my thanks and curses.
By four o clock, that deity has done us good, and the installation is up. Rena and I rush outside into our car. We’ll be back in an hour with her costume, makeup, and our somewhat impromptu sound system, pending weather and traffic. Then, we’ll pack six very blue and very excited actors into our borrowed blue minivan and speed down Monroe Avenue to the Van Andel Arena.
There is no time, either for delay or distraction. There never was.
I shove the key into the ignition of the 1996 Honda Odyssey, and cross my fingers. It’s a sign that the dice are rolling again, an invocation that my nameless deity be with us and for once in our lives that he be with us favorably.
The ignition sparks. We pull out of the parking lot. Music blares from a single intact speaker as we head toward the highway.