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“LYNN MANNING’S WEIGHTS” (2004)

1 Images of a poster from the play


Reviews

“Lynn Manning once was lost, but now is found; could see, but now is blind. These are the twin narratives that lift Weights. …Manning helps the audience to see the world through his own shattered lens.” -- Adam Feldman, Time Out New York

“Lynn Manning is a big guy. He’s 6 feet 2 inches and 220 pounds, with the upper arms of a bodybuilder. So you might think Weights, his touching one-man show … is a literal reference to gym equipment. But it's about a kind of emotional weight training that has made it possible for him to live well and happy as a blind man.

In 1978 Mr. Manning was a cocky 23-year-old with a new job and a hot date when he dropped into a Los Angeles bar. He left in an ambulance, having been shot in the head by a stranger who had taken a dislike to him.

His identity in the world’s view changed that day, he reflects, from black man to blind man. ''From rape-driven misogynist to poor motherless child,'' he says. And ''from 'white man's burden' to every man's burden.''

Mr. Manning, a playwright and fledgling screenwriter, is a take-charge but affable performer, and his is a poignant story. At 29, his alcoholic mother has nine children and leaves them, including infant twins, alone for a day or two at a time. They end up in foster care. As a teenager Lynn is sent to a home for troubled boys and is so successfully rehabilitated that he now works there. His dream is to become a painter and work in Paris.

Mr. Manning's point is how well he handles his personal disaster. Three weeks after the shooting a rehabilitation agency refuses him services because, it says, he hasn't gone through the grieving process yet. Yes I have, he says; I'm used to loss, so I'm a fast learner. He's a whiz at Braille and is thrilled to learn how to walk with a cane with the proper coordination of tapping and stepping.

''It feels a little dorky at first, but I catch on,'' he says. ''I've got natural rhythm. I'll figure a way to make it look cool later.''

Like others who have lost one of their physical senses, Mr. Manning finds others intensified. ''I had never noticed that sound moves the way it does or feels the way it does,'' he says. ''And what about this pulse, this radiation that flows from all things?'' It takes a strong person to recognize it.” -- Anita Gates, The New York Times