Saturday, March 31, 2012

Surfing With Spirit

I consider ego a central component to creating art. I also see the process of serving as a vessel and channelling a muse to be equally if not more powerful to creating art. There are works of theater, music, dance --a mixture of all, we like to call art, that grab a hold of something inside of me and rip, pull, massage, touch, awaken and energize while at the same time satiate and calm...agitate the space of nirvana that continues to elude, creaks open the door and dances with it... It gets underneath that back corner of that secret part of my spirit that rarely gets filled. That sounds dirty but I don't mean it to be.

And some art touches me in this way and it does not do the same thing for others. And that's beautiful too.

The other night my friend played me this music video Call Your Girlfriend by Robyn. The lyrics are poignant, yes, but the music video has so much more than that. When I try to dissect it and point to say, "that, that's what makes it magical", I can not. I can only reference back to the selfless ability to channel this artistic spirit. This spirit finds the artist but the artist also has to invite it. And the spirit visits only the most lucky of us. There is no real rhyme to it and I wonder if the artist in touch with it deserves some credit, but really very little. To commune with this spirit is dangerous. It requires great courage and humility.

But one must not only be open to it, one must also be prepared. One must be dedicated enough to learn the dance moves, to write down the music, to rent the space, to hang the lights, to practice again and again. To take another cut. To fail and ride the failure and let it be part of the art.

As I continue to create the Travelling Elmer Troupe clown piece with my fellow clown colleagues and explore and create the character Gultekin Ayshen Gulmeli Shey, I draw inspiration from Robyn's courage when she dances in this music video. I've probably listened to it twenty times in the past 48 hours and I think I'll listen to it again. And then...eventually...the music video will slowly stop holding that same power, for me....just fascinating...where does it go?

As a spectator and I am so grateful for Robyn's selflessness. As a performer I am so inspired.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Theater, the way theater should be

Just walked out of the the show Astro Boy and the God of Comics created by Natsu Onoda Power. The story is a reverse chronology story of the life of comic book creator and genius Osamu Tezuka. Sitting through this one hour long piece of art reminded me the reason theater should exist. This show had it all. The aesthetic was breathtaking. There was humor, there was politics, I felt connected to every character on the stage. The use of multimedia was freaking brilliant. The actors were an amazing ensemble cast. I literally felt like I was living inside a comic book. Just such a delight.

I want to create theater like this. I want to create theater that takes the audience on a creative journey but that also has a soul.
The story of Osamu Tezuka and his life growing up through World War II in Japan was just so well crafted. The atomic bomb event was handled so beautifully. I didn't feel beat over the head with it, and yet also felt the utter poignancy of the way this event shaped Osamu Tezuka's life. Just. Awww.

I walked out of there and couldn't help myself making this low moaning noise like Slingblade. For like five minutes straight randomly. I kind of chuckled to my friend because I could not help it. This noise just kept coming out of me. Such satiated feeling. God. Man. Good theater. There. Is. Nothing. Like. It.

More on the show here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Night At the Circus

On April 13, Clowns Without Borders hosts Black Ties, Red Noses, an event at the Arts Club of Washington. It's going to be epic! The night includes Acrobatics, Hand Balancing, Fire Performers, Burlesque, a Clown Show, drinks, and a wicked dance party all night. Ticket includes a free drink, a red nose (for the first 100) and a dance party unmatched.

We'll be showing the soon to be released documentary Send in the Clowns trailer as well which you can view at

This year we plan to take trips to Haiti, Indonesia, Peru, Brazil, Burma and continue to do work in DC and Baltimore!

Ticket cost is $35. All donations go directly to the mission of bringing laughter to zones of conflict.

Get your tickets here:


Religious-based hate rhetoric cracks me up.
Policies implemented based off of these ideas freak me out.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Don't forget to breathe.

It's really good for you.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Sound of Love

I was listening to a presentation yesterday given by NPR's Jay Allison. Chemonics (the organization where I work) had a big leadership conference and invited him to come speak. Jay Allison gave a presentation on the power of story and in particular the power of voice in story. He spoke of the fact that sound is the first sense to begin as a fetus in the womb and the last sense to leave you before you die. The power of sound is an incredible thing.

He also talked about one point in his career when he asked his audience to pull out old recordings and share them on the radio. During this exercise, most people who came forward with some old recording to share did not have old music but rather had saved recordings of their loved ones. While a picture is somewhat removed, the sound of someone's voice is something that reaches your heart and soul in a very precious way.

I loved this and of course immediately thought of Jason and the mounds of video that has been sitting in my dresser for the past three years, collecting dust. Since Jason loved film, the last few years of his life were pretty well documented. Our family is so lucky to have this reservoir of not only Jason sound but Jason video. It's such a treat and yet also so hard to watch that I must admit I rarely bring it out. But Jay Allison inspired me.

And so last night I went through some of Jason's video. I'm sure I've seen all of it already, so none of it was particularly new but it felt so good to share some time with Jason again, and to get to hear his voice and see his smile.

This particular clip I pulled from a much longer video he had made for my sister Carise. The banter in the clip back and forth about Jason's beautiful sister I wish was about me, but alas it's about Carise. Sigh, she always was the pretty one. ;)

So, as you watch this, I hope you can find the magic of sound and how lucky we all are to get to have Jason's voice with us for the remainder of our days.