BWW Reviews: Mustard Seed Theatre's Wonderful Presentation of THE PURPOSE PROJECT: THAO'S LIBRARY
Elizabeth Van Meter's The Purpose Project: Thao's Library is a true story that genuinely touches the heart. Utilizing a multimedia presentation, Van Meter details the events that occurred that convinced her to attempt and reach out to a person who was born with disabilities due to the spraying of the toxic defoliant agent orange during the Vietnam war. A poignant picture of a young woman in a wheel chair, named Thao, made an impression on Van Meter and, when she found out this person was attempting to amass a library for her village, she decided to help her with her dream. This is a powerful story that changed both of their lives for the better, and it's receiving a wonderful production by Mustard Seed Theatre.
Photographer Stephen Katz had taken photos of children and adults who had been born with deformities and disabilities due to their families contact with the deadly agent orange, and he showed these photos to Elizabeth who was moved to take action. She loaded up her luggage with books to donate, and then flew to Vietnam to meet Thao in person. Moved by what she experienced, Van Meter vowed to make sure that an actual library be constructed, and through her perseverance saw that come to fruition.
Elizabeth's story is important because of the work she so graciously committed to make Thao's dreams come true, but Van Meter also clues us in to reason she felt compelled to take part. Her sister was famous for being a groundbreaking young pilot who set many records and became something of a celebrity. But, unfortunately, she took her own life. Elizabeth, like many people whose relatives commit suicide, felt she had somehow let her sister down. Her sister had considered her a role model, and now she wanted to do something to give her life some real meaning. She found it with Thao, and she continues with The Purpose Project to help individuals here and abroad to bring forth positive changes in their communities and lives.
Director Joe Ricci utilizes photos and video (courtesy of Van Meter, Stephen Katz-photographer/video, Chris Tyree-video, Kyle McKeveny-video, and Greg Slagle-editor) to illustrate Van Meter's tale and bring this story to life. It's a fascinating combination that never loses focus and acts to draw our attention to the plight of these people. Michael Sullivan's lighting and Emma Bruntrager's work with the sound and projections are impeccably done.
Mustard Seed Theatre's production of The Purpose Project: Thao's Library is guaranteed to touch your heart, and it continues through September 15, 2013.