Sunday, October 28, 2012


What a journey this school is on both artistic and social levels. One idea of the three circles of energy that I wrote about here has really been blowing my mind lately. As an actor, there is a demand on stage to constantly be in second circle in order to be ready and open. It is a state that the audience can receive most fully.

However when applying this theory to real life, I find that checking out and going into a first circle state where I am not receptive to others and just living in my own little bubble is a very common thing I do in public. I also find that I go into third circle where I get really stressed out and tense up and get really aggressive. When I do manage to find myself in second circle I often find myself  moving into third circle when I see others around me that I deem "out of it" "not in second circle."

I am coming to the see that I work to manipulate others energy constantly to pull out of what I see as first circle behavior or pull them away from what I see as third circle behavior. The act of manipulation itself is a very third circle act. It is painful and uncomfortable and doesn't even work. I ignore or belittle or ignore or chastise or tease people in order to "align their energy." It's mean and doesn't work. The only circle of energy that I have control over is my own. The act of working to change anyone elses energy just causes suffering in my own self. A sort of "I know better so I am going to teach you" attitude.

To be present and receptive to all peoples energies without any defense mechanism in place. Is. Super. Scary. And something I have not really tried much. I will be more conscious of this moving forward.

A place an event sucked

Well we did our A place, an event piece and I felt really bad about it. I didn't like what we presented. It sucked the life out of the room. But we didn't mean for it too. We were four people out on a boat fishing, catching a fish. It was pretty dull.

This week we were asked what our goal was this year and I said: "My goal is to perfect the art of failure." Today as we received feedback on A place, an event I felt it. Failure. Mmm. Glorious. What to do with that?

Learn from it but not take it personally. Reflect but don't dwell.
What to learn here?

1. Creating theater is hard and it takes time.
2. Working with an ensemble is hard and it takes patience.
3. Staging a piece on a boat is really fucking hard.
and most importantly
4. Silence on stage must be earned. It can't be gratuitous.

Three dimensions of existence

My teacher Ronlin in our 3D Mask class this week proposed a story was in 3D. The beginning is the horizontal line, the conflict is the vertical spike in the story and the conclusion is the depth. Wild idea. A real story is in 3D. It is alive. It breathes. I don't know how the thing comes to life and at one point the writer stops being the force behind the creation. Is there a point in artistic creation where the reigns must be given over to a creative energy that the artist cannot take credit for? Or do we ever even begin to start the creation process? Are we always simply channels, working at all times to get out of the way for the unknown to work through us? I'm struggling to understand the connection between the unknown and my consciousness. Both are a part of the creation process, no? At one point do I have a part of this creation process? And what does I mean in this context? I use it a lot and am not even sure what part of me it refers to. I know...heavy. But seriously I'm not being flippant here.

There is a demand for honesty here at Dell'Arte that is so high I sometimes feel stifled. I am reminded what my other teacher Joe said about working to explore the micro level of intention. Movement follows intentions. So, rather than just turning your head on stage, asking the tough questions about the motivation behind every head turn. Dissecting a piece of theater to this level of detail, allows for a level of nuance that creates good theater. When you turn from upstage to move downstage to open a door, does your head lead because you heard something? Does your body lead because you're still looking for someone out the window upstage? Who are you looking at? How do you feel about them?

Working to include this level of detail in a cognitive way, seems to go in direct contradiction to the idea that we must somehow tap into this state of being a channel for the creative unconsciousness. To listen and embody what we hear. Simply.

Like any good prospect in life. Wrought with paradox and contradiction. The dance goes on. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

A place, an event

Today is Monday, rainy and grey in Blue Lake. My roommate and I both woke up in grumpy moods and walked to morning practice in silence. This is also the day we get our outline for a performance done in a laboratory setting this coming Friday. Always a bit exciting to learn what we're going to be working late into the night on over the course of the week. 

The outline was simply to create a place and an event. A place could be a church and there are a great deal of qualities that a church embody. And that depends on the church as well. Different churches walls are covered differently. Some churches walls are bare, others covered with images of saints, Jesus, the Virgin Mary. But beside the images, there is the way the space is set up. Are there pews or chairs? Is the pulpit raised above the audience or is the presenter positioned at ground level with the congregation? Is there a baptismal? Where is it? Are the ceilings vaulted? Or low with wooden beams?  Stain glass windows? How are the lights set up? Is the place covered in gold? Orthodox style? I can remember the distinct smell of the Georgian churches and the many candles lit before all of the icons. Women with heads covered in scarves. Priests with long beards, dark brown eyes that are lowered in contemplation or maybe boredom. A church is a place. And then there is an event. Events that take place within a church can be many. A wedding, a Sunday gathering, a funeral, a baptism, a Christmas celebration. The events often transform the energy within the space while at the same time they are informed by the space. The idea of having a high school prom at a church seems comical because the place and the event are in opposition. A high school prom requires loud music and dancing and laughter and romance. Drama. A church is not the appropriate place for this event. What happens however when a performance is set in such a manner where the place and the event are in conflict? Is there potential there or is this going against the grain of what is natural?

Lots to think about and discover this week here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nature and Ambiguity

This week I experienced the first synthesis of my graduate studies in conflict resolution at American and my studies here of theater at Dell'Arte. The idea was proposed by my writing teacher Lauren who is a talented playwright. She gave a short lecture last week on the evolution of humankind and use of mask as ritual and performance. Her presentation focused on the way that early humans used the natural world around them to create masks. She noted a book by Paul Shephard written in the 70's titled Nature and Madness where the author posits that by growing up in and around nature, humankind gains the ability to understand ambiguity on a very fundamental level. Shephard argues that as humankind loses more direct contact with nature, we miss out on the subtleties of ambiguity and in turn our propensity towards conflict increases. When humankind is unable to understand that all things in the world are not black or white, good or bad, evil or holy, then humanity is unable to transcend and resolve conflicts in a fluid creative manner. This type of creative fluid problem solving is achieved when one has an understanding of paradox and ambiguity. That if something or someone is different, they are not necessarily bad.

Much of my favorite studies at American University revolved around the political theory of constructivism and that humanity has constructed a narrative of war and peace in such a rigid way that we perpetuate our own demise due to a social construct. The hope that lies in social constructivism is that we become conscious of our choice to construct our world in polarity and transcend this archaic way of thinking.

Shephard's theory supports the conflict resolution analysis by arguing that being in touch with nature at an early age allows for human's brains to implicitly strengthen this cognitive skill of understanding and reacting to ambiguity with grace.

As I continue to pay attention to nature as a foundation for the creation of theater, I see the effects of this understanding in my personal life as well. It is a bit difficult to pinpoint qualitative or quantitative results but there is a level of calm, happiness, generosity and compassion that I feel growing in relation to taking a step back out of the din of city life. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Handstands, headstands, aikido rolls oh my.

Acrobat class is super cool. Lots of muscles I've been neglecting that are getting plenty of attention now. Did you know there was a time long ago when if you put your genitals over your head, you could be killed? 

Unless of course you were a court jester. Those dudes got away with anything.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Returning Back to the Source

So much lately in my life has had the theme of returning back to the source. I've had this illness that I have been treating through a full body detox. I have not been drinking alcohol or caffeine nor have I been eating sugars or yeasted food for nearly one month now. I have been returning back to the source of my body functioning without any real habitual drugs. It has been a journey.

I have also been returning to the source of where I grew up. The west coast. It has been almost a year in the making and today is the first day in a long time that I have been comfortably settled in a place that feels like home. I couldn't really say that since January of 2012. It feels good to be back on the west coast. At least for now.

I have also been returning to the source of relationship with my self. What does it look like to be friends with my self? To hold my self accountable for kindness and compassion to my self the same way I do with others? What is it like to be alone but not lonely? To not rely on another partner to create a sense of happiness. It takes immense courage to return to this source.

This program has allowed me to really take some time to explore the magic and beauty of nature. I am in awe of the source of all life in nature and the natural yet complex way the world around me moves. No ego. No assumptions. This week a group of thirteen of us were tasked to recreate our experience on Nature Day that I had previously talked about here. The process of creating the piece was incredibly demanding. Thirteen actors all with different concepts. On Friday when we performed I was really proud of our work. Our teacher Ronlin gave us some really helpful feedback. We're tasked to bring it back to him next Friday for another showing with his notes incorporated. Mighty heavy task.

And today I had the good fortune to watch  Zeitgeist the documentary made in 2007. If you haven't seen it, see it. It's streaming on Netflix. It really returned me back to the source of why I came to Dell'Arte this year. I came here with the hopes to learn the skills of creating affective theater that will play a role in transforming our current economic and political system to one that is more just and sustainable. This movie reminded me of the deep passion I have for this cause and returned me to the understanding once again of just why I am here. I am grateful for that.

Every moment is a chance to return back to the source of the present moment. There is great power. Here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

In the Ranks

Happy Friday friends.

Кто пойдет по следу одинокому?
Сильные да смелые
Головы сложили в поле в бою.
Мало кто остался в светлой памяти,
В трезвом уме да с твердой рукой в строю,
В строю.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nature Day

Today was nature day. I crawled out of bed at 4:30 am to meet my fellow classmates and spend sixteen hours in nature and the car. What a day. What an amazing day. We started off the day on the top of Horse Mountain watching the sunrise. Sure was cold. But the views were worth it. Emotional. Haven't watched the sunrise in god knows how long. We descended out of the clouds and moved on to Patrick's Point where we walked through Yurok Indian Tribe dance grounds and then perched on a fence for an hour overlooking the ocean and watching the whales and sea lions. Our next stop was Fern Canyon and we hiked for seven miles through the Redwoods. Just amazing amazing views. The trees rise so far up to the sky, they just took my breath away. At the end of the forest excursion we walked through a gulf of high walls of ferns encasing a river.

You really can't make up that kind of beauty. It is only found in nature.

I sound like such a hippy. Hurmph.

After our epic hike we drove out to Moonstone Beach to watch the sunset. As the sunset, I looked around at the same forty people that I enjoyed the sunrise with this very same morning. Good bunch. Our teacher and leader of the nature day excursion Matt asked us to hold everything from our past in one hand and then release it. Then he asked us to hold everything to come in our future in the other hand. And release it. And notice the power of the present moment. He finished sharing this idea with us just as the last lick of fire crossed the horizon leaving a deliciously pink and blue sky. The sun off to warm another part of the world. A handful of us threw off our clothes and ran into the ocean. It was real cold and real refreshing.

Reflections. Loads. Too much to say. Key things. Looking forward to working this year with this group of people and learning together. Looking forward to working this week and exploring finding the essence of the natural world in my theater. In my previous training I've often worked to somehow embody the four element exercises of fire, earth, air, and water. However, I've never watched these things with such a careful eye. I have a different sense of them...I am curious to explore how that translates into the theater.

Also it just feels so good to be back on the west coast. The Pacific Ocean reminds me of my childhood. It has a special smell. That reminds me of building sand castles with Carise and Jason and Dad.

The horizontal point way out over the ocean when my eye is unable to see sends me somewhere strange and special. Maybe it is metaphor, or maybe it is real but it makes me think that may be where Jason is. Somewhere that I can see but only sort of. Somewhere just out of reach.

On a more personal level. I am struck by the journey of walking with my self. Being friends with my self. Not sure how that translates into being a more accomplished actor/creator but I do know it is part of my Dell'Arte journey. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Connection of Nature and Imagination

The first week has passed. It has been physically taxing and equally so in a mental, social, and spiritual way. Lots learned. Lots. One phrase I find particularly relevant to this work is by Frederico Garcia Lorca

"The imagination is limited by reality: one cannot imagine what does not exist. It needs objects, landscapes, numbers, planets, and it requires the purest sort of logic to relate those things to one another. The imagination hovers over reason the way fragrance hovers over a flower, wafted on the breeze but tied, always, to the ineffable center of its origin."

This work is about finding the way our bodies naturally move through space. It is about getting out of the way and letting the body do its job. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Three Circles of Being

Two days into Dell'Arte's Professional Training Program and I'm really enjoying it. We have already covered so much. We are doing lots of walking. Exploration of walking. On the first day we must have walked around the room for almost three hours straight.

I'm hoping the stamina will kick in soon enough but these are some long days on my feet. Full of amazing stuff. But my body is feeling it. My mind is struggling to stay present and alert.

The pedagogy is that the first few months are really designed to create an awareness of ourselves in space as actors, as humans. This acute awareness allows us then to add layers of character within the space of theater. A bonus is that we may, if we remain open to it, transform as human beings as well in our relation to the world.

One thing we've explored over the first few days that I find real translatable into real life experience is the idea of the three realms of personality. The first realm is the place when you wake up in the morning and are sort of on your own. You are not in a state to engage with others, you are maybe contemplative, and very much focused inward. The second sort of realm of being is the place where you engage with others in a present and open place. Where you are open to both give and receive. The third realm is the second realm but on crack. So, the third realm is the place of aggressive pushy conversation that leaves little room for listening but just wants to share share share. The idea here is that in life as we engage with others and when we engage as artists on the stage, it is ideal to be in the second realm where we are neither closed in to ourselves (first realm) nor pushing too hard (third realm).

I like that.