Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Oh lordy.

Oh lordy. That has never felt more true than it does now.
Oh lordy. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Neofuturist bad ass mufuh.

This is all a bit surreal.
Three weeks ago I was getting a drink with a friend and she mentioned
this theatre troupe in town she thought I'd be into:
"I dunno, I think they need performers or writers or something"
"Oh! I'll write for them, I'll perform for them, either way. Sounds cool."
Went on the website the next day and was totally fascinated by this theatre methodology neo-futurism.
Slightly embarrassed I didn't know more about it but was totally into it.
Went to see the show that weekend (they had a Chicago NYC cast in town) and was totally floored. Yes. Fuck yes.
I mean its so obvious and smart.
No acting.
All straight up.
Real life stories about our lives.
Our real names.
Audience interactive.
Short form rehearsed plays.
30 of 'em in 60 minutes.
Late night.
Drinks available the whole show.
Fucking great shit.
They've been running the show 25 years in Chicago,
Ten in NYC
And it just so happens, they're into me being in the SF premiere crew.
Jesus. My god.
Sign me up.
I'm down.
I hate labels.

But for some reason, this one feels right.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I am an artist.

It's been almost over one month since I left Blue Lake California and Dell'Arte.
I'm tongue tied.
Processing this experience overwhelms me.
I learned a lot about my body and my mind and my spirit.
I graduated.
I still have a lot to learn.
I miss my friends.
I'm glad I'm done.
I'm never going to be done.
When I started at the beginning of the year and was asked to share my goal for the year I said:
I hope to perfect the art of failure.
It's ironic I guess because I will never be able to perfect the art of failure.
I will inevitably continue to fail at failing.
I will continue to expect to be perfect and do perfect back walk overs.
And live in a perfect state of ease.
And write perfect blog posts.
And be perfectly funny with my physical gestures.
And mime.
But I'll continually fail at all of these things.
And slowly as I keep doing them I will improve. I will fail and improve.
It won't be a circle though, it will be a spiral.
I will spiral outward. Upward, downward, inward, outward.
Ever moving, even in stillness.
Ever still, even in movement.
And constantly failing.
I am an artist.
I fail.
That takes courage to say.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Wheels Falling Off

I have been working relentlessly for nearly two weeks with two of my favorite people to work with and it has been one of the most difficult artistic processes of my life. Maybe we want it too bad, maybe we are lost in the genre, maybe we are just too tired after a year long of theatre. But we've hit this wall. After working HARD to create a piece of theatre of three clowns in a jail cell, we have scrapped it. We are going to try a new proposal tomorrow and I am really doing my best to stay buoyant through this. We have one week to create a piece of theater. I have four good friends, my mother and her boyfriend (whom I have never met) all coming into town to see the show and I'm just...completely...blotto lost...about how to move forward.

What is the image that drives Pepper? What motivates her? I have lost touch with this charming character who makes so much fun, who is so honest, and so bold. I have literally and figuratively imprisoned her. And now, we start the bold act of climbing out of this. One gentle schtick at a time.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Believe in This

Oh me oh my. 

The clown block has come to a close, I've had a week off to decompress while working a forty hour work week. And the year is nearly at an end. What a year it has been. I can't help but think reflectively and comprehensively at everything I've learned this year as our final projects now stand before us. I'm working with two extraordinary women and diving back into clown. COULDN'T be more thrilled about that. 

The exploration of clown really did draw from all three previous units. The first ten weeks were so much full of getting in touch with my body and the way it moves in space, and how it can be used as a tool to reflect the space that is the earth. It was in many ways also a process of destruction. In order to grow a garden, the ground must be tilled. I was both uprooted during those first ten weeks and replanted. 

The next block of commedia brought me face to face with my body and comedy in a very fundamental way. My face was covered with a mask and I was forced to use my body to channel and transmit a character. I tripped onto this character so adoringly called Squirm, taking advantage of my skills of funk and lack of skills in coordination. I learned a lot during this time, namely the need to remain buoyant, in the face of any form of theater. I also began to understand the way listening to the line of force offers the chance to have the story tell you --getting out of the way. This lesson was brought home in a big way during melodrama. Buoyancy and line of force have remained ever present lessons during this clown exploration and added to that have been another mountain of lessons namely it has been listening. Listening to the logic of the character and to the other characters in the piece of theater. Listening so deeply and holding myself so accountable for this listening that it allows the character to pay attention to the consequences. These three lessons of buoyancy  line of force, and listening rise to the surface as central to my studies here at Dell'Arte. 

As I move forward into my final project I feel my last frontier is to explore THE VOLUME OF TIME AND SPACE....both within and outside of my body. It is a note I continue to receive and one that continues to elude me. 

Off we go. 

Life is 51% Comedy

The clown block is over.
It was all I dreamed it would be.
When the melodrama block ended my roommate and I likened it to five weeks of asparagus every day. Sure you like asparagus but after five weeks of it every day you get sick of it. Then we likened our clown block to five weeks of soft fresh out of the oven walnut, sugar drizzled cinnamon rolls. The only catch is that you have to eat five pounds of them every day for five weeks. Thing is, I fucking love cinnamon rolls. And while it did get old eating them at that capacity, I also loved it.
As I leaf through my notes, I realize that trying to digest and synthesize clown is difficult to do. Instead, I will share an inexhaustible non-comprehensive list of lessons learned: create theater that is ruthlessly rehearsed and still surprising, your guts have to scream you, see a place in space before moving to it or it's gratuitous movement, it's all about how you enjoy what you are doing, release tension but work with total abandon, listen to where the comedy pours from, theater is political period. there's no such thing as political theater but there is such a thing as shitty theater, the chin grabbers --at some point fuck 'em, POV is the mind pointing funny at things, generate delight from within and keep it rolling, clown means nothing is taken for granted, a series of repetitious gestures causes us to revel in understanding, RISK BEING TOO MUCH, moving out of your comfort zone -spills out -moves forward and -disturbs emotionally, life is 51% comedy, don't be sad --be full of weeping-- but don't be sad, do not defer to know the relationship you are in --let it develop, this is YOUR WORK, listen and find when the "damned thing" comes into your sphere of occupation and god damnit be ready, always have an eye for the pay off, tension as an actor is a signal for the character to release and find delight, vital --it must be vital, the amount of forces you give is equal to the amount of forces you're able to discover, work to create a tone that would otherwise remain inaudible, ANYTIME you have a line -remember you are a poet, in stillness I move -in movement I am still, trust more in character coming out of the eye than antics, open open OPEN your EYES, open your face, when you listen to the mind of the ensemble its genius, watch for interruptions, constrasto -look for it -love it -use it, articulate your moves.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Humility, ease, and letting go. Are a thing. So much a thing.
If I learn anything in this life. In this journey. I hope that it is, with every step, with every moment.
I let go. I ease into the moment. I humbly submit.
To this moment. To what is before me.

The exploration of clown requires this.
My heart requires this.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Paradox of the Clown

I have been studying clown for one month now with a clown master Ronlin Foreman. The journey has been amazing. Next week we embark upon production week to put up a clown show that will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I anticipate this week is going to be just as chalk full of wonder and despair as the past four weeks. The journey of discovering one's clown is the journey of discovering one's self. They are not only parallell tracks, one may argue, they are one and the same track, weaving in and out from time to time, colliding smack dab into each other as well. Ronlin said the other week that the paradox of the clown is that clown is in conflict with herself/himself. So true for the human being as well.

One major theme that I have been exploring is that there is a stillness required in all movement and a movement required in all stillness. The clown exists in the world between utter tension and total relaxation. This middle ground is not one of half-hearted easiness, it requires a heightened level of attention and balance. Performing clown demands the same level of attention and precision as tight rope walking with no net below. The stakes have to be that "high." No pun intended, er, maybe a little.

I am exploring a character named Sgt. Pepper. She is an evocateur. She demands attention at all time and talks incessantly. She does not ever apologize and says whatever may be on her mind. She wants to rule the world but not until the world has reached its perfect state of chaos and anarchy. She speaks not from mind but from emotion. She swears a lot, but tries not to. And fails miserably. She chastises her fellow clowns and works to deconstruct every assumption possible. She works to create joy through chaos. She is a delight and total pain in the ass. I love her.

As an ensemble member, working with this character Pepper is throwing all the biggest lessons of the year into my face. She is not a very good listener and always wants to be the boss. Learning how to navigate both energizing these qualities in my clown and releasing these qualities as an ensemble member is a TRICKY process. One that I approach with great humility and humor.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Listening and letting go

I've been listening to a good deal of Dharma talks lately among the study of clown and continue to be in awe of the connections between my spiritual journey and my journey as a clown. The parallels are countless really. They are arguably one and the same path. Two teachings that I find in both of these worlds are the teachings of "letting go" and the teachings of "listening". 

At first analysis, these two teachings seem to be in contradiction. How does one listen deeply while at the same time constantly let go of that which is incoming? The reconciliation seems to be when I see myself as a receiver, which was a thing Ronlin asked us to do last week. It requires a deep letting go of the idea that the mind has any deep analysis role to play. A receiver listens and brings in the data and then immediately, with no ego or analysis, lets it go. This process of constant streaming is the state of mind for a clown as well as for a human being living a life of peace. 

Listening and letting go, and listening and letting go, until we get to a point where the channel is a perpetual stream. The more release, the more energy to receive. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Be Funny

We're one week deep in clown territory. I'm learning a lot. UGH LOT. Ahem ahew. Hooooeeee. Blach. Long days. Lots of emotions. Both laughter and weeping. Amazing territory here. Kind of too tired to digest too much. But I do want to share a film of our performance lab on Friday.

Every week we are given an assignment on Monday and tasked to perform it on Friday, working in the evenings on it. This particular assignment was to have a vaudeville act through clown-like characters. This is a great clip to showcase the spirit of Dell'Arte.

Our teacher Ronlin is super hard on us and this is very evident in the clip. But it is good stuff and I am learning so much every day. Ronlin is the man in the background that stops us in the middle of our song. Everything after he stopped us was improv. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Exploring the Human Heart, A Continuous Journey

On one of the final days of our melodrama exploration my teacher Ronlin said, "We're not doing theater, we're seeking the human heart. It provides play with a common purpose (audience and theater-creators). It is an exploration none of us knows about fully." I love that.

I love that simply doing courageous riveting outrageous revelatory moving theater, we are not only on a quest for meaning, we create meaning. That the very act of engaging in authentic theatrical creation and performance affords a sense of meaning to the whole.

Much of our work we were reminded to keep an eye and ear for the "mind of the whole." I continue to ponder if creating theater that has deep meaning and explores the human heart is valuable in and of itself. Especially when explored and created with community members within troubled communities that do not typically engage in this theatrical exploration surrounding real issues that are difficult to address such as how do we overcome our obstacles and empower our virtues to triumph.

I am less than three months away from the end of this Dell'Arte journey and the future beckons. Stepping one foot in front of the other, trusting that I am in the right place.

Maybe the social justice jargon will not serve me as I move forward. It may be that working with individuals to address these more meaningful personal explorations may result in creating a more peaceful world. If the end goal is to create meaningful theater, can an unintentional result be a more peaceful community? Oh the questions that live within me. I shall love them, as Rilke requests, like locked rooms...

Tomorrow begins our exploration of clown. The reason I came here.

I am giddy with anticipation.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Finding the Way Home

This last weekend we performed our melodrama show "Finding the Way Home." It was a showcase of the work we had explored over the past five weeks, and shows we had written in two weeks. The process of melodrama was pretty fascinating. I would say that it was more enlightening than I had expected.

This was the first time in my life that I've every actually understood what it takes to create a piece of theater with meaning. I am in awe of the way in which to tap into emotions from a physical place and develop them. As an actor.

As a writer. I am in awe of the way I can create three dimensional characters that live within a given circumstance and LISTEN for the way in which they would play the story out.

As an ensemble member, I am heartened at the ability to understand my fellow artists talents and tap into the talents of each of us. I still struggle with the ability to affirm the steps we take. I am driven to keep pushing and so congratulating breakthroughs feels like giving up a bit. It's a balance though. I worry that if I do not find more release I will not allow for breakthroughs. Allowing for space is important.

One thing I am still rolling around is what exactly makes an audience feel empathy towards a character. I was in the living room today when a roommate was watching a documentary on the director of Pan's Labyrinth who says that when using violence in his films, rather than making the choice for a character to be stabbed in the stomach, he chooses for the character to get sliced in the forehead and smashed in the face so his entire face gets bashed in. He does this with the direct intention to create an empathic connection to this character. It's manipulative.  I feel the same way about some of these devices in melodrama, that they are manipulative. But in the end, the way that Ronlin has taught melodrama I can allow for the manipulative aspects because the stories we are exploring revolved around the question: how can virtue triumph?

In the piece we did called November (which you can watch online here, it's the first eight minutes of the show) we tell the story of a mother and father dealing with the death of their child. The virtue here we looked at was the ability to forgive oneself and a partner when such a tragedy as the death of a child takes place and it is partially the parent's fault. I think we explored that in a beautiful way.

I am proud of the work we did.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Guest House

Deep in the Melodrama unit and drudging up all sorts of emotions, many of them difficult.
I ran across Rumi's poem The Guest House today and was heartened by it.

This experience at Dell'Arte continues to be one of the hardest and best things I have ever done. Every day I am challenged in inexplicable ways. The subtle explorations of self and my body as poet is painstakingly difficult. To allow myself the patience and belief that I am of value in this world. That my voice and body can physically produce value. That the effort I put into my work will yield results. I have spent so much of my life in desperation to be of value that I have avoided looking within at the value I can create here. Blame and jealousy visit often. Comparison and failure have become old friends. I feel so much here. 

And the magical moments. They are not every day but when they occur, it is akin to dreams I have had. A sense of creative community, joy, true magic on a level I just could never have fathomed.

In our Melodrama unit we are exploring the cultivation of emotions. Where do they live in our body? With this new found awareness I have taken to cultivating joy in my daily life. I do it consciously as if it were a pancake recipe that I can whip up every morning and continue to perfect throughout the day. Joy emerges from my upper back and travels up and out of my rib cage and chest. It connects my back with my front as one whole unit. I have the power to create it. This is a revelation. I notice as I cultivate joy daily, that this is replaced by my common more often cultivation of worry. It is so true that we do not ever get rid of our destructive habits. We do not get rid of them. We fill our life with so many creative habits that there is no room left for the destructive ones. 

The Guest House by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Map of the Heart


Knee deep in Melodrama. About to get waist deep, then up to our necks. Do I have the courage to go any deeper? Ronlin told us to drop the snorkel and risk getting the bends.

We're exploring the actual physical manifestation of emotions in class. Where does joy live in my body? What consistency is anger? Where does jealousy flow out of? Wild stuff. How do we find these transitory emotions and cultivate them? How do we allow them to grow inside of us and out of us and share them without any ego? The energy required to simply explore this on a personal level is immense. Translating this research out in front of an audience. Whoooo. Heeee.

A murmuration is a beautiful configuration created by a flock of starlings. The ensemble work we do has the potential to be a murmuration. The way we work together is crucial to that. Listening and allowing ourselves to go deeper with each other. Flying and sinking all at once.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The ferocity of reality

Thirty years ago today, a baby boy was born that my parents named Jason.
Jason Michael Charles Bogar.
Michael for my dad.
Charles for my grandfather.
And Jason because they believed that he was a healer.

The name Jason means healer.

Jason spent most of his life terrorizing those around him.
His terrorizing came from a deep place of love.
He was a clown.
He loved to play.
And play hard at that.
He loved to watch me squirm in frustration.
He was a trickster.
How can a trickster be a healer?
It was my brother's way of life.
He provoked.
He caroused.
He never apologized.
He lived life with ferocity and unabashed raucous.
He was a hell raiser.
He loved deeply.
And if you didn't realize that--
You could go fuck yourself.

I wish he hadn't fucking died.

I wish sometimes the world was an awful lot different than it is.
Some days I delight in the world as it is.
Most days I delight in the idea that I can delight in the world as it is.
But today.
But today, right now. I do not want to delight in the way the world is.
I don't even want to delight in the god damn idea that I can delight in the world as it is.
Loving what is
Leaning into it.
Divine intervention.
Fuck all that.
I want to call Jason and welcome him into his thirties.
I don't want the world to be the way it is.

Turning thirty signifies a time in your life where things shift.
Saturn returns.
We grow up.
The ferocity of our youth meets the wisdom of our old age.
I want to see the collision of trickster and healer.
He died too young to get to grow into the beautiful man that he would have been.

I want to smash something.
I want to talk to him.
I want to be annoyed by him.
I want to hug him.
And ruffle his soft hair.
And stop writing shitty poetry on his birthdays.
To him.
For him.
When he can't fucking read it.

Fuck that.
Fuck this.
I don't want to make this pretty and neat and poetic.
Jason wouldn't want me to.
He would want me to be angry.
If I felt angry.
He would tell me to be sad if I was sad.
So that he could push me unwittingly, smile that gigantic disalarming smile and say.
"Whoa, goochy girl, chill out. Jeeez."

Happy Birthday Jas. Fuck.
You bad ass SOB.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Saying Yes

At the start of last week our teacher Stephanie told us that we may learn more in the week of production than we have all four previous weeks combined. Lordy that was true.
This past week was amazingly intense.
Of all the lessons I learned as an actor and performer, one of the greatest ones was my role in an ensemble.

I talk a lot. I talk so much.

I mean, I realized it only as I was in the depths of this process with six other performers and it really sunk in. I am a bossy girl! And although that quality is super good for me. I do it more than I would like to. There was one point in the process where I was so worn down that I went with the group in a direction I did not agree with. I said in a very professional manner that I did not agree with the direction but when it became clear everyone was willing to go for it, I tried it. I was not eager to do it but I did it.

I shut my mouth the whole creation process, I did what I was told and did not fight any of it.

And it made the show a better piece. Imagine that.

I also found that the next time I had a proposal, my ensemble mates were more willing to hear me out.

As I move forward with ensemble work I will remain alert to this feeling of resistance and notice if I have the courage to set it aside and go with a proposal I do not like.

Just as our teacher Joe asked us to never say, "My character would never do that.", it is equally valid to hesitate from saying, "As an actor, I would never do that." 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Transporting the Character

Wow. Have learned just so much over the past five weeks about theater and comedy. The past two nights of performance have been a lot of fun.

Performing as Squirm is really a riot. The click happened for me when I realized that she is a violent character living in a world of comedy and that the violence is playful. This is a fun form. It requires buoyancy. But as my teacher Ronlin said, buoyancy is not airy. It requires deep roots to stay grounded while still remaining up.

Last night, I went into the show with the same commitment to play violently buoyant but with an eye to intensify the need of the Squirm. Staying in it without going tense, really requires a deep level of energy that I do not know I was completely able to attain. However, I was able to connect with the audience at a few key points in the show. I was able to "get them on my side". Or maybe a better way of putting it was that I was able to "allow them into my world." It was funny because all I did was stay present and say what was on my mind.

Tonight as we close our third and final show I have a lot of notes rolling around in my head. One big thing I've learned over the weeks is that to focus on too many things leaves my head spinning. Essentializing my focus is super important for me as an actor. And we all have our different processes. Tonight we've added a new scene where Squirm breaks down into tears. In that particular scene raw vulnerable buoyant play is absolutely required. Enjoying the play, but living in the break down with an honest experience. Not pushing the tears but allowing it to channel through me...I think? We will give that a try.

As far as the thruline of the whole piece, I really do think this is Squirm's chance to take the audience on a drug run. She is here for the audience and for herself. She is proud of her job as a drug dealer and wants to give the audience the inside track. The main note that Ronlin gave today was to have the courage to put on the mask and get out of the way for the character to run the show. To be the vehicle of the character. To allow for the failure of giving over to Squirm. What a raw thing. To let all the other notes go and just strap in and see what happens when I listen attentively and give over all my energy to her and her shenanigans. I guess I should start channeling the energy of a low rider. Squirm's ride. Fo shizzle.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Holy Shmeegulz Keegulz Batman

Wow. Having a mask on my face on stage is a WHOLE NEW experience.

Learning so much about that.

For starters I have to remember to OPEN MY EYES.

Then of course remember to feel the energy of the mask and translate it into my body.

Also I am working to breathe deeply and release tension knowing that any tension I'm holding in my body is magnified in mask.

With open eyes, channelling the massive power that the mask demands with a body at ease, the work just begins...

These are basic craft notes. Never mind the ability to engage emotionally and find the contrast and life of the character. How the character moves in space. What the character's appetite demands.

Oh boyeeee. Squirm be ruking and rowling in dis har hizzouuuse.

The Sweet Spot

Several experiences this week have brought back into the forefront of my mind the role of theater to heal and to provoke positive change.

First was when my teacher Ronlin suggested that because Commedia is a violent form of comedy, that there is an aspect of catharsis. Just as human beings love to watch football for its violent cathartic nature, there is a similar quality in Commedia. Commedia presents violent characters in violent pursuit of food, sex, and money. Ronlin implied that the act of watching Commedia affirms audience members very human violent nature and allows audience members to accept themselves in their most basic nature. Commedia takes the shame out of being human and allows for a sort of healing experience. The idea here is that by attending this kind of bawdy raunchy theater, where the goal is food, sex, and money and the outcome is never ideal, that audience members leave feeling a bit more human and a little less desirous to bottle up their violent nature. The counter here is that just like with football, I am not sure that this supports a more peaceful world. It could be argued that it may provoke in the opposite way and incite further violent appetites for food, sex, and money. Bertolt Brecht's major criticism of traditional theater was its cathartic nature. When we create a cathartic piece of entertainment we forget about the actual real-life injustices. We go to the theater to forget about the world. However what sets Commedia apart from traditional theater is that Commedia characters are never satiated. So this catharsis in Commedia is a different kind of catharsis. Interesting twist...Curious.

The second experience this week that inspired me to write about this subject was the current show at Dell'Arte Three Trees put on by three of my teachers. Three Trees was just superb. It is a clown show that deals with the horros of war in a SUPER funny format. It provided some healing for me on a personal level as I was able to feel like someone cared about things I care about having lost a brother to war. Seeing fellow actors address issues of war on stage through laughter gave me a sense of peace. I don't know why. I felt like, "Yah, they get it." Further than that, I am not sure how Three Trees offers healing. And I really do not think it provokes social progress much at all. In many ways I think its central purpose is to entertain. But I am not willing to close the door on that one. I am eager to talk with my three teachers in further detail about this. When it comes to the act of going to the theater, and taking in a show that then inspires audience members to action. I don't know. I simply do not. I think that is very very difficult to do. I do wonder what their intentions are with it. To simply call out the absurdity of war? What good is that? It certainly does not provide a catharsis to war. It is provocative. Do the audience members have a new perspective on war? Will they do anything differently in their lives now? What would a veteran think? Certainly it was beautiful. The show was full of images that will forever remain in my mind. There is great power in images...Curious.

The final experience this week that has me thinking so deeply about theater for social change was our second trip to the local nursing home as clowns. Returning to the nursing home was really meaningful in that the residents were really eager to see us. The staff told us that since we left in December they haven't stopped talking about us. A fellow friend said that maybe our work there was a sort of magical medicine. Certainly the looks on the elderly's faces as we engaged with them inspires me to believe this is the case. I felt like the smiles and laughters elicited were coming from people who were usually very deep in a state of hibernation  There was a sense of bringing spirits back into the present moment in joy.  We made some good headway with audience participation at the senior center on Saturday when we engaged with Playback Theater. When we would hear a story from a resident we used that opportunity to act out the story. In the compilation Current Approaches in Drama Therapy there is an article Playback Theatre: A Frame for Healing by Jo Salas where she notes, "All human experience, including extreme suffering, finds meaning when it is communicated in aesthetic form." To find meaning is a beautiful thing, does it heal?...Curious.

Like any good art form, theater does not support social progress in just a provocative way or in just a cathartic way. Clearly there are aspects of both available at all times. However when do we know which is needed? And are there more ways in which it supports social progress? Theater offers a chance to explore ourselves in so many ways. Theater provokes participants to think about the world in a new way. Theater agitates audience members to explore their opinions.  I feel torn by the actual use of theater to instigate action in the world. I think theater when used as a tool for non-actors to explore new ideas with their bodies, it can serve to support social progress. That is to say, there is a level of participation on the part of the spectators that is crucial to actually incite any lasting social change. Boal would call these then the "spect-actors."

I am still working to find the sweet spot of my role using theater for social change. No doubt it has endless potential but I am not sure where my talents, the world's needs, and my passion perfectly collide. The sweet spot. Might it have something to do with a circus truck? Might it?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Like Burnt Paper

"When we get out of the glass bottles of our own ego,
and when we escape like squirrels from turning in the cages of our personalityand get into the forest again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves.
Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,
we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh,
and institutions will curl up like
burnt paper."

--DH Lawrence.

What a quote. I like to think that this is the kind of work and exploration we are doing at Dell'Arte. No mater how grandiose the idea. How to know when we've escaped the glass bottle that is ego? So difficult to say --the quality of that experience. Can one still conceive of self and be free from ego? There have been a few moments here that I have been able to free myself from this ego experience through art. One is when we were exploring elements and I found fire in my body. The other was when we did our Nature Day performance lab and we were performing waves crashing as a unit of bodies. There were a few fleeting moments exploring neutral mask and finding my Punch character Squirm as well.

It's a space where there is no mind and I feel like a receptacle for a creative energy. It is difficult to sustain and tricky to describe because in this space there is very little analysis happening. And these examples are not the only time I tried to reach this space of egolessness performance. In fact, it is about one in every fifty attempts at most. The other day in class I tried it and was mixing and speaking from all sorts of different characters and could not land on any. In that moment I needed to make a craft choice to commit to one perspective and play deep into it. That is craft there, more directly from the mind. The ability to commit to one perspective of a character. To make a choice of who gets my attention and then to listen. That is to say I think there is some necessary ground work before diving into egolessness.

I am understanding now more than ever why theatrical performance is an art. It is the merging of the infinite space with deep craft. And while one can perform with complete wonder without the deep craft, one cannot transform the space with craft alone. Craft offers for a closer connection and shapes the daemon.

And tying back to the last line of DH Lawrence's quote I can't help but wonder how does this process connect with institutions curling up like burnt paper?

Currently the main connection I find there is the idea that the institutions that once held such power in my head like my old universities or any NGO's...I see them as less powerful. They seem weak in comparison to the great power available in nature. However it is also with the understanding that these institutions were mostly formed from the seed of this power and then boxed and organized and compartmentalized and the magic and life of the original seed dissipates with time..something to think on further.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Somewhere Between Dead and Ridiculous is Alive.

Our voice teacher told us that good performance exists somewhere between dead and ridiculous  This relates very much to our exploration of Commedia as well. This week has been utterly confounding. It began with deep frustration surrounding my desire to be funny with a promise to myself to abandon all desire to be funny and simply be open to the process of being on stage free falling. So, as soon as I took on the unknown a character named Squirm blossomed. She is garrish and sweet. Ugly and deeply desirous of love. She is charming in this squirmish way. I started to discover her through out the week. By Friday I felt so sure of my "hit" on her and presented for our performance lab. It fell face flat. Squirm was not squirming. She was writhing and dying in Micael's arms. And it was completely obvious. The feedback after the piece was rather harsh. "What happened Micael? It was like you were performing through a wall? Where did all that good work you did this week go? It's like it should have been funny but it just was not."

And now I scratch my head in contemplation and am a loss. I don't know. I don't know how to remain consistently good with this work. How can something work one day and then fall flat the next day? And how much time do I give to exploring this? Why do I sometimes blow it? Maybe I was taking the work too seriously? Maybe I was dialing it in because it was Friday and I just wanted a beer? Maybe I wasn't listening to my fellow actors? Maybe I wanted it too bad? Maybe I was not remaining present? Maybe I was not listening to Squirm but rather just pushing? So hard to say....and the heartbreaking aspect is that I don't really know...and I am afraid to go back on stage with Squirm.


This is NOT easy. Am I cut out to do this? Man. Oh Man. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Make Me Laugh

We're knee deep in the five week Commedia block and exploring the art of comedy. I'v compiled a top ten best practices list with only 8 categories and almost all of them start with C. Because let's face it top ten lists that have words all starting with the same letter are for schmucks. And I am not a schmuck. I am a young spring bird that was fed the meat of his fellow birds and has developed a mild mental disorder that allows me to type.

1. Communicate

The audience is your best friend in Commedia. They tell you what they want. When you enter the stage, take in the audience and react to what you feel in response. React big and react physically. When you have nothing, look to the audience and let them affect you. React to that. You will have something then.  Also, my clown teacher told me to be open to communicate and listen to the creative energy behind the humor.  I'm still exploring what he means by that. As soon as I get it, I'll write about that.

2. Cut

When devising a Commedia piece its going to be messy. Suffer through the messiness and find what works. Economize what works and cut the rest. Set up the story quickly to just ROLLwith it.

3. Contrast

Contrasto is the mother butt load lover of Commedia. When you've established a convention or expectation to one extreme, shift 180 degrees to the opposite. Pop it.

4. Coordinate

Sharp, well-timed, isolated physical movements are gifts from God.

5. Commit

Whatever you choose, choose big. Don't half ass this stuff.

6. Chaos

Commedia lives in the mistake and the improv. If you don't allow for the chaos in the play, you will have nothing.

7. Character

Character is god here. All action is motivated by the character. And these are extreme characters in extreme situations but the more real you can make them, the more the audience will be willing to play

8. Stakes

No middle ground here baby. All primary colors. Life or death. All motivation stems from a desire for sex, money or food.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Full force ahead

Back in the saddle at Dell'Arte. I am surrounded by a really talented crew of artists. I feel blessed by this and also completely overwhelmed. We're exploring comedy. How to be funny. What is funny. I think to myself  "I've got a real hit on something" and present it only for it to fall flat. Then another moment, when I least expect it, I have everyone laughing with no real rhyme or reason as to how I did it.

There is a real strong sense of support and camaraderie here but part of that camaraderie is not sugar coating. We are here to really reflect to whomever is on stage what we see. The audience here is one of the toughest audiences I have ever stepped in front of --my peers. And it builds character but it builds character through being torn down. Faking it or dialing it in can be smelled a mile away and so can pushing too hard. It's a dance. Literally and figuratively.

What's important to keep in mind is the phrase: hold on tightly and let go lightly. That is to say, when I take on an action or make a character choice I take it on with full force. I nail it to wall with full force or I completely wreck it with full force. And that, if, in fact, I do completely butcher it, that I have the knowledge to let go of it completely and move on to something else.

I find, if I'm not careful, that I really can beat myself up over a choice I made hours ago. I'll find myself hunched over my kitchen sink doing the dishes and just tearing myself apart for pushing too hard when I put on that mask and delivered that stupid fucking line. It hurts to be that self-critical, to that depth.

 And as far as learning from my mistakes. Much of that learning that happens is on an unconscious level anyway. So, really, much of my work here is making bold choices, failing and then getting out the way for my self to learn from them.  Marvelous. Confounded. Stupifying.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Open Heart

Today is the start of a new year.
2013 here we are.
Tomorrow is the start of our next block of work at Dell'Arte.
It has been an amazing journey so far.
Here is to starting again.
Here is to remaining present.
And open with no expectation.
Open to receiving all that the universe has to offer.
An open heart.
Happy New Year.