Of Pigs and Pianos is an Enchanting Evening at The Jungle Theater

Of Pigs and Pianos is an evening I will cherish and carry in my soul. It’s not often you can say you were in the room with true genius, but that was surely the case last night as I sat in the Jungle’s intimate little theater and listened to Sara Davis Buechner share her story and her talent. What resounds most throughout the evening is her love of music. We often hear people say they love this or they love that. Here’s an instance where you actually watch someone embody their love for something. When she talks about her love of music and then sits and plays a piece from Mozart, Chopin, or her own composition, she isn’t playing music, she’s playing her love, and it is beautiful. I came to this production primarily because Ms. Buechner is transgender. As regular readers know, my youngest son is transgender and so these stories always hold an extra draw for me. Seeing the stories of transgender artists shared is important, it speaks to and can be an inspiration for those who share that journey and it creates empathy and understanding in a world that seems increasingly hostile to the diversity that should be enriching our lives.

Sara Davis Buechner opens by telling us about the piano teacher who asked her at a very young age what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her reply was a piano player, and a pig farmer. She spends the all too brief evening sketching out her life, from a young boy who wants a blue dress and yellow hat like Madeline, to award winning concert pianist. As with most on the transgender journey, Buechner’s story is not all piano concerts and happily ever afters, she bravely shares the unhappy alongside the happy as they were frequently coinciding. This helps the audience to get some understanding of the dysphoria that can be so much a part of someone trying to understand their place in the world and to find themselves. What resonates most keenly is the moment when she becomes herself, the moment she looks up into the sky and becomes Sara. After that moment, though she begins to see all she has achieved slip away, she’s OK with it, because at last she is herself. I’ve seen the release that understanding can bring, the weight that can be lifted, the joy that can be found from figuring out who you are and being able to live as that person. Buechner communicates that moment and how that feels so eloquently and clearly.

I came for the trans but was enraptured by the music. I enjoy classical music. My first exposure that left an impression was Disney’s Fantasia in the theater when I was five. I don’t come into regular contact with it aside from covering the occasional Opera, so I was confident I would enjoy the musical portion as well as the personal story aspects of the production. I underestimated the effect the musical interludes would have upon me. It’s one thing to attend an orchestra concert and enjoy the piano solo; it’s nice, how lovely, what talent. And then, there is sitting with maybe 100 other people and watching Buechner play. It’s like a completely different art. I read in the press release that the performance was an hour with no intermission. Thankfully, that isn’t accurate, it was closer to an hour and a half, and too brief at that. I could listen to Buechner tell her story for hours. Shockingly, I think I could sit and listen and watch her play for days. I don’t think I’ve been transported by classical music this much since seeing Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” brought to visual life by the wonderful Disney animation artists in 1977.

Is this for everyone? Probably. I can’t imagine anyone not benefiting from seeing this show. Sara Davis Buechner is brilliant pianist and a remarkable role model for the LGBTQ+ community, do not miss this opportunity to see a musician of this calibre in person. But, do heed the content warning on the Jungle theaters website which states “CONTENT WARNING: OF PIGS AND PIANOS contains strong adult content and language. Recommended for audiences 16 and older.” I would agree with that age recommendation. The Jungle Theater has a wonderful program called “Pay as you are.” The suggested ticket price is $45 dollars, if you cannot afford that, you can pay what you can. If you can afford to pay a little more, that allows them to continue this program making amazing performances like this accessible to everyone. When you go, I recommend getting seats house left if possible, I was house right and many of the projections were obstructed by the Piano lid. Now, if only house right seats are still available take em, its the Jungle Theater, there isn’t really a bad seat in the house. For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.jungletheater.org/of-pigs-and-pianos

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