After an unforgettable night in Bethlehem at the South Side Film Festival kick-off, I am preparing for another artistic day back in my neck of the woods. Tonight I will have the pleasure of catching the critically-acclaimed Broadway show, “In the Heights” with my aunt and cousin. As a dancer from NY, the magic of Broadway has been near and dear to me for as long as I can remember, but I am only now realizing that as a student living in Bethlehem, I am beginning to place a similar significance on South Side events.
Last night was my first taste of the SSFF, and my expectations were blown out of the water. Sports for Kin revitalized Metropolis and enhanced the already extreme German expressionism in ways I never would have thought possible, yet I must admit my mind wandered away from the presentation on several occasions. As I sat in the chapel, the film itself took a back seat in my mind; I couldn’t help but focus on the value of the event as a whole, and the significance of being a member of the audience.
As my blogging progresses I am becoming more and more familiar with the names and faces that compose the artistic heartbeat of the South Side, but I am still very much a stranger to these events. Yet shortly after stepping into the party at Home and Planet, it was clear that everyone was connected by their enthusiasm for the festival, their neighbors, and their town. Perhaps it is because the festival is completely volunteer-run that the vibe was so welcoming, but I was both taken aback and very proud to see how so many different people united so passionately in the name of art.
Now, I can’t help but wonder how my excursion to Broadway will compare with the thriving event here in the Southside. It’s safe to say I’ve lost touch with Broadway since moving to Bethlehem, and I am curious to see how tonight will play out. Last night in Packer Chapel, I did not know many people, but anonymity was fleeting with the innate cohesion of the crowd. And despite being back in my hometown, with the company of my aunt and cousin, I feel as if tonight’s performance will be a far more isolated one.
With these questions and reflections entertaining my thoughts, I finally realized that comparing and contrasting the two events is neither possible nor effective because they are truly like night and day. “Into the Heights” will surely have talent, music, and costumes that rival any performance in the world, but it won’t have the pulse of a SSFF audience- one that is united by both common aspirations and genuine care.