A Man Called Ove

As I’m reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman I am falling in love with this book and its characters. In one chapter I’m smiling as the happy moments of Ove’s life are shared with me, and in the next chapter I’m almost in tears as I see the pain and sadness that also equally fill this Ove’s life. As the book is written in the format where the chapters flip from the past to the present, I see how these experiences create the character of Ove. The story of A Man Called Ove isn’t a suspenseful thriller or a fantasy novel filled with magic. It’s simply the story of an ordinary man’s life. Yet this simple story is filled with the joy and pain of characters that are so tangible that I want to reach out and hug them. And isn’t that why we read stories, because we want to make connections with the characters? In fact my favorite part of Harry Potter wasn’t the world of magic (though that was pretty cool right?!) no, my favorite part was the characters. I read each book sympathizing with Hermione as she strove to follow the rules and excel in school, and with Neville as he suffered under the  cruel gaze of Snape and coped with his own insecurities. I laughed with Fred and George, wishing their names appeared on the page more, and I cried when the duo was finally separated. I felt my own heart break as I imagined what it would be like to lose my own twin. My point is that I read stories for the characters and I think that’s true for most people. In A Man Called Ove, one chapter is Ove going to the grocery store, and while the chapter isn’t the most exciting, I still love it as it reveals who Ove is. (I would even read a story about Fred and George going to the grocery store, but like who wouldn’t. I’m just imagining flying magic fruit.) Through the simple chapters and through my laughing and connecting with these characters, they become my own characters. Instead of being figures in a book, they became these characters that I could count on and I reread books to revisit these characters. While I am not yet finished with A Man Called Ove, I know that I will be revisiting Ove and the other characters in the book.
By Maria White

Time Isn’t Always on Your Side. By: Charlie Espy

The first song I ever heard on vinyl was You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones. It was my freshman year in high school and I was at a Christmas party thrown by the preacher of my church, Dean Tracey Lind. Tracey is the most unique person I have ever met. She is 65 or so years old, an ordained priest, proudly gay, and as outgoing as perhaps humanly possible.

My parents and I were making small talk with Tracey, since we were fairly new to the congregation, when I noticed the record player. I had never seen a record player before, so in a lull in the conversation I asked my Dad if it was in fact a record player. Tracey laughed kindly and explained to me that it in fact is. She walked over to the shelf of records, and pulled out the first one, which happened to be Hot Rocks by the Rolling Stones. Soon, the choral introduction was playing throughout the whole house.

I hate to sound cliche, but that first experience was what shaped my taste in music to this day. I will never forget that Dean Lind was the one who introduced my to The Rolling Stones. In the days following the Christmas Party, I downloaded a few albums; namely Hot Rocks by The Rolling Stones, and a collection of Beatles songs. My taste gradually grew and expanded. I added The Kinks, The Animals, and expanded to Journey and Foreigner. In sophomore year I was required to do National History Day, and stemming off of Tracey’s influence, I decided to do John Lennon. As a joke, I purchased a pair of blue circular glasses from Amazon and started wearing them to practice, which sort of became my “thing”. At the risk of being touchy-feely, Dean Tracey Lind helped me become who I am today.

This January, Dean Lind retired. She was diagnosed with FTD, a degenerative brain disease that will cause her to gradually lose her mental faculties and eventually cause death. Tracey and her partner, Emily, are leaving Trinity Cathedral to enjoy their retirement for as long as they can. Tracey has many, many friends, she has touched the lives of so many people in the congregation. She has been a social activist in the Cleveland area for at least 17 years. Her influence on me is so tiny in comparison to what she has done for other people, but that tiny influence is somehow so powerful.

Dedicated to Tracey Lind.


Charlie Espy

Here Ye

“So, why theatre?”
“Is that lucrative?”
“Well, the Fox News anchors said that actors have the biggest unemployment rate, so why go to school for this? They say being an anesthesiologist pays well!”
Well, Great Aunt Lola/my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Sher/over-achieving mother of my over-achieving peer/ others, sometimes it isn’t always something you can put into words. For a long time, I could never explain my immense passion, and connections and transfer of energy that occurs on stage. I’ve even written this essay three times now; it felt like no words could truly explain it. I could never explain why I wanted to devote my life to this art form.
Finally, in the early hours of November 9th, 2016, as I sat in a dark room, lit only by a small candle and accompanied by the haunting pitches of Bon Iver, mourning the desolation of love in our country with the recent election, I was able to put my drive into words. Through every trial and tribulation of my life, whether it be the ongoing battle of my mother’s breast cancer or the cancellation of my 8th grade visual bible, Smash, one thing has emerged from my mind. Life is all about connection and life is short. I must spread my love while I am here; I must create positive empathetic connection to those around me. As I thought about the millions of people whose lives could be put on the line in these next four years, including my own, I began to feel a fire rise within me. Everyone has different grieving periods; mine happened to be a surprisingly short five hours. Although even to this moment I haven’t fully grasped the implications of a Trump presidency, I knew that I wanted to fight. I want to help make positive social change. I want to spread my love.
I now understood that my art is my voice. I have always believed in the power of the human experience. On the stage, I have a place where I can explore the human spirit through connections of characters. As an actor, I not only have the power to hold a mirror up to society and have it reflect on it’s own triumphs and flaws, but I’m also able to personally reflect on humanity, thus growing as an artist and as a human being through my discoveries. When I played Macbeth, I was able to show how power corrupts (much to my Bernie-liberal heart’s satisfaction). When I played Javert in Les Miserables, I was able to contemplate the constant struggle between morality and the law, and question the existence of a universal truth. When I played Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, I was able to promote body image positivity and radical self-love. Through my art, my voice is heard and I have hope that I can help to shape our society to be based on empathetic connection instead of hatred. Some may stand on picket lines, some may sit on the floor of Congress, but I dress up as someone else and embody them for two hours on a Friday night.
Here ye, here ye, hear my battle cry: I will spread my love, I will not be silenced, my art will not be silenced, my voice will not be silenced.
-Gus Mahoney

Project Shaw

Sitting in my seat, I dreaded the moment that the lights would dim. I looked around the room at the  seniors shuffling to their seats and prepared myself for the fight that would ensue. My drooping eyelids and the sharp pain from sitting too long would be my two most formidable enemies this evening. My sister sitting next to me shared my sentiments, but my grandma was settling into her own seat quite contentedly. The reading of George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman was about to begin. I didn’t want to be pessimistic or bored, but a room filled with seniors and my mom’s phrasing of how my grandma would drag me to one of her Shaw readings didn’t inspire much hope within me.
The lights dimmed, the actors took to the stage. They weren’t in costume, they had their scripts in hand, and they took their seats on the stage. It was like no production I had ever seen, I don’t think that one could even call it a production. The actors, currently performing in shows in NYC, had only read through the play once before- that morning.
That evening rather than watch actors as they told a story, both the audience and the actors experienced the unfolding of the story together. We watched, enraptured at the actors on stage, but we also laughed with them when they slipped up and broke character for a brief moment.
When the show was over I was a touch forlorn, I wanted more. I was jealous of my grandma and the others in the room who would be returning for the reading next month. My jealousy dissipated as I watched as my grandma gleefully chat with the director and then as she won the giant bouquet of flowers. I laughed at the idea of us taking it home on the subway and then smiled as she gave away all but a small bouquet’s worth of flowers to the other patrons.
This was my introduction to Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, and it has cemented a special place for him in my vault of favorites. Shaw’s plays, written in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries, are not only works of art but also champion human rights.There’s no wonder why The Gringold Theatre Group chose to honor his works through Project Shaw.

By: Kathleen White

‘Murica, Y’all!

Whew, what a week! The past few days I’ve woken up and just felt different — something has changed. For days, I pondered the cause, but I couldn’t place my finger on precisely what had changed. Then, it donned on me: America is becoming great again! Seriously, guys, you can feel the greatness in the air! I’ll be honest — I had my doubts about letting an Oompa Loompa with anger issues run our country, but it’s been great so far! I’ve learned this week that I can actually never be wrong. I used to just admit when I didn’t know something, sheepishly grinning and asking for the correct answer and an explanation, but now, I can just cite Alternative Facts! Just this past Friday, in Fact, one of my teachers handed back a test. I noticed one of my short answer questions was marked wrong, and I was so confused. I asked my teacher, and he explained that I got the Facts wrong. I laughed, and explained to him that I was just using Alternative Facts™. He refused to give me my points back, however, so I told him to expect a visit from Sean Spicer to investigate his wrongdoings. 

Some of you may be under false impressions about many topics, having been conditioned to believe Facts™ that have been wrongly forced upon you up until this point. Never fear — I’m here to provide you with a list of the top 5 Alternative Facts™ to alleviate some confusion!

1. Hillary Clinton was running (Still runs??!!!?!) an illicit underage sex-trafficking ring out of a pizza shop in D.C.
2. Dinosaurs are actually alive right now, but they’re invisible. 

  • They are actually the cause of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. #science

3. Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer.
4. The periodic table is used only by girls, and it’s purpose is to track menstrual cycles.
5. The moon is a Chechnyan satellite disguised as a semi-planet to trick the Russians into revealing their government secrets.