Architecture of Family

The Architecture of Family & the Art of Self-Discovery

The Architecture of Family

& The Art of Self-Discovery


by Stephen Earl Marshall-Ward


Presented May 6 & 7, 13 & 14, 2016 – 7:30 PM

All Pilgrims Christian Church

500 Broadway East, Seattle, WA98102


We all have family – in some way.  Yet, family can often present the greatest challenges we face when trying to discover and free our individual identity.  This project will explore the concepts of oneness and wholeness, freedom and identity, forgiveness, personal and spiritual growth, and family through the microcosm of my life and the people closest to me: my family.  Through a multimedia experience with video and performed music, we will show how families, like buildings, have architecture.  Through individual and family story, we will discover how we can build family that enables, nurtures, strengthens, and frees the individual – returning to strengthen the family.

Through filmed interviews with family, a collective story will be gathered. Highlights of these interviews will present individuality of consciousness, experiences, values, feelings, and judgments.   Reflections of collective experience from differing (and sometimes opposing) perspectives will be selected with the goal to feel, sense, know, and enlighten the collective oneness of our connected existence.  In response to each perspective, I will compose music.  The collection of video and music will be combined to tell our family story – now more complete - honest and truthful.

The end-goal of the production is to create an experience of family structure (architecture) and individual identity (self-discovery) that can be viewed and heard, seen and felt by the observer.  Through music, I will attempt to challenge us all to respond in ways that lead us into living that is open, authentic, and free; with a desire to see, hear, feel, know, and embrace – even to imbue – openness and oneness.  My hope is that this project will greatly encourage openness, understanding, and reconciliation within families. 

Why MY life?

My life – for most of my life – has been subjugated with a pervasive dichotomy:  A strong desire to be spiritually Christian and a seemingly opposing desire to be free in my sexual identity as a gay man.

There are many experiences that I could share. Bullet-points might best facilitate brevity:

·      My family of origin is a conservative Baptist family that places high importance on “being good.”

·      From a very early age, I became increasingly aware of my attraction to men.

·      I therefore lived the extreme dichotomy of being simultaneously a “Good Boy” and an “Evil Sinner” destined for hell.

·      I married a woman I loved and we had two beautiful children, but after coming out, despite efforts to “fix” me and our marriage, I continued to have relationships with men.

·      The dichotomy caused extreme stresses in family life and we ended the marriage after many years of “Christian Counseling.”

·      I discovered a healthy, loving theology about God and gayness.

·      After struggling with anger, guilt, and shame, and not knowing how to be in a “normal” relationship with a man, I met James and we have ultimately forged a good, loving life together.

·      Each person in our family continues to forgive and reconcile our various relationships.

·      We are discerning and becoming our true selves while encouraging each other to be free and celebrating who we are and what we have to offer our world.

Why this project?

·      My struggle to find myself, learn about myself, and ultimately begin to free myself may greatly help others who also struggle in similar ways.

·      My family greatly struggled with and because of my journey.  In the process, in spite of our extreme differences and opposing perspectives, we attempted to find ways to continue loving each other and remaining open to each other.   Today, we enjoy more openness and oneness than ever before.  It would be valuable to know how their journeys and individual perspectives have contributed toward us all arriving where we are together in this journey.

·      Navigating this journey together as family has enriched each of our lives.  We want to help others benefit from what we have learned.


·       Instrumental Musical Prologue

·       Interview 1 – on screen

·       Musical Response 1 – live musicians including chorus and instruments

·       Interview 2 – on screen

·       Musical Response 2 – live musicians including chorus and instruments

·       Interview 3 – on screen

·       Musical Response 3 – live musicians including chorus and instruments

·       Interview 4 – on screen

·       Musical Response 4 – live musicians including chorus and instruments

·       Interview 5 – on screen

·       Musical Response 5 – live musicians including chorus and instruments

·       This process will continue until the story is adequately told, developed and resolved.  The Project content may include an Intermission or may be divided into various Parts, depending on the results of the Interviews.

·       The Final Response will have a FINALE feel and will emerge as a natural response to the progression of Interviews and Responses