My Own Stranger
We have been her kind.
There’s a reason Anne Sexton’s poetry reverberates so strongly in the American consciousness more than four decades after her death: We have been her kind. Whether that means that we’ve struggled with mental illness or merely with our own artistic demons, we have felt out of place in the world, overwhelmed by experience and searching for a way to make sense of it in language.
But Sexton’s poetry—with her witches and lovely mouse-children and push-me-pull-you come-here-go-away relationship with death, sex, love and art—describes it so much better than we could ever manage. That’s why this production—a West Coast premiere—of Marilyn Campbell and Linda Laundra’s My Own Stranger, based on Sexton’s poems and prose writings, is so amazing.
Directed by Kelley Ogden, My Own Stranger features three versions of Sexton: No. 1 (Ruby Sketchley), who seems to represent the frightened, compliant self; No. 2 (Lisa Thew), defiant and wounded proto-feminist; and No. 3 (Kellie Yvonne Raines), the worldly, wise, sensual self. They are all Sexton, a sort of Greek chorus of the poet’s experience: It is a return to the core of poetry as performance, and the best sort of union for language and presence. The final performance of this limited run is at the Crocker Art Museum tonight.