She Rearranged the Furniture

Thank goodness for Wilma Subra.

Thank goodness for women who fight with a box of crayons and gardening tools.

In my Acting II Class this past fall, I was given the assignment to purchase the Chicago Tribune on September 31st. I was to read through the paper and find articles that interested me and held potential for theater-making. I stumbled upon a piece that immediately grabbed my attention. The article was called,

“In the Oil Patch, a Friend of the Earth”

I hardly know a thing about the science of oil or the Earth. But Wilma does. Wilma fights against oil companies in the south that release deadly toxins into the air of poor communities where their rigs are located. These communities do not have the resources to fight against these large oil companies that monopolize on their labor and land. So Wilma, a Louisiana grandmother and chemical analyst, has decided to take down these companies   all    by    her   self.

Wilma is so full of power and these companies are so genuinely afraid of her truth-revealing research, that she was shot at while working at her home office! Wilma’s response to this…

The Tribune recounts, “the soft-spoken crusader’s response to the threat was to put bars on her windows, move her desk to the back of the house – and keep going…”                                                              Yep, she rearranged some furniture and kept fighting.

I know if my windows took a hit for my work, I would surely relocate, or quite possibly leave town. I’m not as brave as Wilma.

As a theater-maker, I took on the responsibility to make a piece about Wilma and her war cry that consisted of the rearrangement of her office furniture. That’s right. I essentially represented Wilma and moved her desk and coat rack with the song, “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry playing in the background. The office I had created became darkened by the curtains that were used to cover the windows and a lamp was used to light the dark space. Plants. Her office was littered with foliage, precious plants that served as precious friends. And I moved them and the other furniture with the strength I wouldn’t have had. Before the song began, Wilma was an elderly woman with a box of gardening tools, strong at heart but weak in body. When the song played, the strength of her will permeated her spirit and she was alive, agile, ready. Maybe one day I’ll have that kind of resilience.

So here’s to quiet acts of loud courage.

Friends, let’s be Wilma’s.


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