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.