By MaxZine Weinstein

Eggplant Faerie Players

Tresident of IDA, deep in the queer woods of Tennessee – July 24, 2013


Go out and see Michelle Embree and Altercation Dream Solutions perform By the Skin Of These Words at your first chance. Prepare yourself for an evening of clever word play and emotional journeys, accompanied by live music and singing.

I first saw Michelle Embree perform a reading of her book Everything is True, A Fairy Tale, in which the magical (yet ordinary) children embark on a series of revolutionary adventures. The audience was in stitches, laughing through the evening. Each part of the fairy tale was woven together to humorously build on the rest.

Marie slipped out her lip-gloss, applying it in thick globs that tasted like cinnamon and experience. That tasted like all the places she'd been but could not describe. The lip-gloss that tasted like company on a long lonely night.

Michelle Embree's writing was vivid in Everything is True, creating images that connected into one wild fairy tale.

None of it prepared me for By the Skin Of These Words. The show began with the intense keyboards and vocals of Altercation, whose enchanting invocation set the stage for a very personal trip down memory lane of a challenging (to say the least) childhood. Michelle Embree shared tragic stories of a kid finding ways to survive amidst brutality. In so doing, the performance connects the trajectory between violence in the family and society.

The foundation of the show is the poetic survival and thriving of Michelle Embree despite the challenges faced. Altercation's musical interludes and accompaniment echo the emotional intensity and help the audience digest the musings. The chemistry between the performers transcends the boundaries between ritual and performance. I found myself reflecting on so many issues in my life that are challenging. The show empowered me to reflect on my circumstances, and I found myself seeking wisdom from the performance to help me figure out new approaches. This is the crux of a powerful performance.

An example of this is the emotion of fear. The performers deconstructed the ways fear is embodied from an early age, both through family pressures and society's hammering controls, such as nuclear weapons. The audience is encouraged to search deep, not to get paralyzed by fear, but to use the powers of understanding to help us undo the power of fear and move on in our lives.

It's a little hard to explain. You have to see it to know what I mean. By the Skin Of These Words is on an extended tour. Don't miss it when it comes to your town.