If you’ve ever felt like writing a love letter to Lawrence, you’re not alone. This month, a host of performers and community members will be expressing their fondness for good old Larryville through a series of artistic expressions when the Lawrence Arts Center hosts “Lawrence Love Letters.” The event, held on the weekend after Valentine’s Day will showcase musicians, dancers, and performers of various mediums centering on stories about love.
The show’s creator, longtime musician, and Lawrence fan Kirsten Paludan got the idea after talking with her students about how to engage the community with the arts in the age of COVID. “Included in that conversation was the awareness of how grateful we are to live in Lawrence, in a place that we felt safe and protected during the pandemic, and I realized how important and meaningful,” she says. “I was born and raised in Lawrence and, though I know it’s not perfect, I think it’s a pretty idyllic, artistically supportive, and incredible place to live.”
For this event, Paludan and Director Elizabeth Sullivan decided engagement was key—not just with other artists (you’ll see artists from various mediums come together for some parts of the show), but with the audience as well (expect some audience participation). Part of that engagement includes ways you (yes, you) can share your Lawrence love. The Lawrence Arts Center is asking the community to submit their love stories ahead of time at this link. Storytellers will have an opportunity to tell, read, or perform their stories in recordings that will be showcased live at the show. “With this show, I not only wanted to celebrate the community but the amazing people in it by asking them to contribute their own stories of love,” says Paludan. “As we’ve held story circles to prepare for the performances, Elizabeth and I had the realization that spending an hour or so sharing histories and talking about our feelings in a supportive environment can have a highly positive effect on one’s outlook. I mean, it seems like a duh moment, but when do we ever do that in today’s world? Just take an hour to talk about our memories, experiences, and lessons with people we may not know that well?”
Paludan says in addition to highlighting the work of artists, she also wanted to explore “Creative Aging” with older community members. “The aging population is the fastest growing in the world yet, also one of the most underserved in our country,” she recalls. “This is an initiative to address that inequity and partner artists with the aging in their community, not only to perform for them but to help them engage with their creativity, learn something, and have an opportunity to showcase it.”
Lawrence Love Letters kicks off at the Lawrence Arts Center Main Stage and runs on Friday, February 18th at 7:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 19th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. This event can be attended in person or viewed via Livestream.
With performances by:
- Spencer & Rains
- CS Luxem
- Maria the Mexican
- MC Approach
- The Paludan Sisters
- Play 12
- Lawrence community members!
Director - Elizabeth Sullivan
Creator/Assistant Director - Kirsten Paludan
Producer - Lawrence Arts Center
Please enjoy this Spotify playlist featuring musicians from the event: