I just pulled up Howlround.com, a online theater journal, to get the link for an article to post on my theater company’s page, when whose little photo did I see by an article but my very favorite professor.
I may have cried a little as I read it. In part because she is so bright and articulate, and reading this reminds me of why I loved college and the constant artistic inspiration and mentorship.
But mostly, I cried because I really fucking love theater.
I love to make theater, I love to see (good) theater, I love to talk and think about theater. I love to teach theater to kids, and I love to teach kids through theater. I love to write for theater.
I also love that she was able to use a discussion of theater to digest her experience. I want to make theater that digests experiences. I want to make theater that makes people think and feel, that puts people on the inside and the outside of an experience at the same time.
In this small town, I am finding people who want to do the same thing. It is a slow process, but the surprise that a neighbor worked in theater for years and wants to join the company or that members in the community want to see our show and give us their support moves me every day.
Now I’m all fired up, but I have to get ready for bed. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
I’m trying to get my friend Kirsten to move to Detroit because I can’t move there. She lives in Ann Arbor and could get a job in Detroit. She is an artist, a yoga teacher, and a compassionate, creative soul. She could do great things in Detroit.
Then I remembered that I live in Reading, a city that could use some compassion and creativity.
Then this morning, I read this article. And I remembered that I could do great things here.
As much as I actually don’t like growing up, I do like discovering the beliefs that matter most to me. If I observe where my own actions lead (because I believe in the cliche that actions speak louder), commitment to local is high on the list (close to importance of family, open time, thrift, and other things). When I worked at Touchstone Theatre, my favorite projects were always the very local pieces we created ourselves. The very personal/local transcends and becomes relevant to everyone, everywhere.
That is what I want to do in Reading.
Posted in myself, theatre
Tagged Berks, community, connections, creativity, inspiration, learning, personal, slow down, theatre, work
When I worked at Touchstone Theatre, Ysaye M. Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock came to work on a community project, gathering songs and stories from the African American community in the area. She is an inspiration musically, communally, and personally.
I was just doing some research on creative additions to the Brit Milah (ritual circumcision) and came across a Kahlil Gibran poem that she put to music. It is beautiful, but more something I’d give myself rather than give my son.
I was struck more than anything on the cycles of life. How this lifecycle event (my child’s bris) put my memory back to my work at Touchstone and with Ysaye. I begin my official work writing a play tomorrow, January 1, to fulfill my obligations for the grant I received. I want to get The Reading Theater Project up and moving again, even if in baby steps. The religious school I run needs a lot of creative and leadership support right now. And I’m going to have a baby any day now.
I could use a little creative inspiration right now. I need to find my creative voice anew, as a mother, as a stay-at-home whatever I am, as an independent artist, as a leader.
If the inspiration comes from the memory of working with a brilliant African-American woman and her music, all the better I say. We are all connected, all the same, despite our differences.
Americans for the Arts‘ ARTSblog had an interesting article about Art/Artists working in and with Communities.
I tried to leave a comment but was unable, so here are my thoughts:
I have seen, through my own work, that the arts are deeply connected to our communities, through art for art’s sake that is also art for humanity’s sake. I prefer when art is both – why can’t art be quality, creative, and meaningful to more than just us, those who make it.
The challenge I have faced, working independently or as part of a small ensemble, is that artists don’t often have the knowledge to “prove” their value to granters or community leaders, nor do they have the finances to pay someone else to do it.
It is exciting to hear that HUD and Kresge are thinking more broadly about change and encouraging relationships between communities and artists. I hope that it reaches all levels of artists, not just those who are big and known, but also all of us who are small but creating great work.
As I work toward revitalizing the Reading Theater Project, I have these conversations with myself a lot: what is the value of art (of theater)? what kind of art do I want to make? do I want the art to serve the artist or the community? What I keep returning to is YES – I believe that art can do all of these things and we don’t have to choose. We can produce a place, write a play, develop a performance as an ensemble; it can be high quality art and highly creative AND be meaningful to the community we live in.
This is my goal. Maybe I am naive. Maybe it is possible with the right people.
Last night, David and I went with my dear friend Joel to see a The Marriage of Bette and Boo, a play from the 80s by Christopher Durang, at the Ephrata Playhouse.
The play was about marriage, children, family, and all the absurdity and sadness that goes along. It was as funny as devastating. I like this about art – its ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time.
The theatre is an excellent community theatre, where I would be interested in volunteering to act (no actors get paid in community theatre), except that they rehearse at night. No way that is happening any time soon.
It keeps becoming more and more clear to me: If I want to make theatre in Berks County, I have to do it myself with the artists I respect and trust. Which is exciting and at times overwhelming. How will I meet more of these artists if I am not out in the community doing theatre? How will I connect with any amount of audience if I am not out in the community doing theatre?
And am I insane for committing to make new theatre when I’m 33 weeks pregnant?!
Not actually MY brain
I have several different categories that I like to write about: arts and theatre, my family, being pregnant, yoga, and personal things. Here is a general update of what’s going on in my brain these days:
- Arts in Education – I read a great article in American Theatre Magazine about creating theatre with and for autistic students. Using theatre for its therapeutic values: building verbal and non-verbal communication skills and increasing abilities to work together. I have done this kind of work before, with autistic students as well as students with a variety of emotional issues. It is amazing to see the rapid changes in these students when they connect with the material and each other.
- Family – My mom moved back to Florida. She had moved to PA to be close to us and the baby, but things didn’t work out according to plan. My sister and I drove down with her, stopping in North Carolina very briefly to see an Aunt and Uncle in Winston-Salem and and Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin in Charlotte. Then we continued on to Pensacola where we saw Dad and Brother, more Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins, one Bubby, and a few friends. I was sad for my mom thather plans fell through up here, but it was nice to have a reason to see my family. I hadn’t been back to Pensacola since August of last year.
- Myself – It is hard to separate myself from all that is going on with everything and everyone else. I have become impatient. I don’t like this, and I keep thinking since I’m aware of it, I should be able to master it, but I can’t. Yet.
- Pregnant – He is moving more, but not kicking. I feel him pressing against my abdominal wall or spine or bladder (usually when no bathroom is in sight!). At the midwife’s office yesterday, I received a packing list for having the baby. My favorite thing on the list is juice – I love juice and if labor is an excuse to drink an over abundance, bring it on.
- Theatre – I’ve been catching up on old American Theatre magazines (who has time for magazines of substance unless on an airplane?!). I read about theatre festivals going on all over the world; one that particularly caught my interest is in Germany and for children. No child actors, lots of mature material but in a kid-appropriate way. I want to go to there. I’ve been thinking about this play for children that I have a grant to write in 2011. I want the topic to be something mature and thoughtful and provocative, but of course for young people. I’m currently thinking of time. Big topic, but lots of possibility. And it will make David happy because it is science.
- Yoga – My practice has changed so much. The weirdest thing is that I’ve gotten away from studying the yoga sutras. That is something I can continue even while I’m in labor (though I don’t know I’ll really be able to concentrate), but for some reason, I have stopped reading and thinking about them. Some svadyaya (self-study) may help reveal why and guide me back to the books.
What are YOU thinking about?
Posted in arts in education, family, myself, pregnant, theatre, yoga
Tagged arts in education, baby, creativity, family, life lessons, love, personal, playwrighting, pregnancy, writing, yoga
I need to figure out how to be superwoman.
I could still look good in a leotard.
I have always loved having a million things to do all the time. And I became, I think thought humbly so, very good at balancing all of them. But since being pregnant, I have felt a deep desire to say NO to most things. And I have been, proudly. And to the astonishment of my husband.
But I may have gone too far. I find myself wasting my days reading useless internet pages and compulsively checking Facebook (for what, I don’t even know). I have plenty to do, but I have very little structure unless I make it for myself, which makes it hard for me to even do the little I have do to, much less anything else.
And I’ve been so looking forward to this free time. I just don’t know what to do with free time.
Tonight I went to a meeting called my the new Berks Arts Council Director. He has an idea to create a fringe festival in Berks County. It was very, very exciting to be in a room of mostly community theatre folks who are interested in thinking outside of the proverbial box and making great art happen here.
And, as I am the Artistic Director of the Reading Theater Project (more on this another day…), I am eager to be involved. And I’m having a baby in 2-3 months, which is another thing I have been eager to do for a while. And writing this children’s play I received a grant to do. And other work (teaching arts-in-education, running the Religious School, teaching yoga).
Hence, the need to figure out how to be superwoman. Balance of self and family. Difficult, but a necessity. I don’t think I can function well otherwise.
I have a very generous grant to spend 2011 writing a children’s play. I’ve been brainstorming, reading, and planning now to get a head start so I won’t feel too rushed when Raspberry is born. But it is so hard to make myself do that work.
And yet, I started this blog to share my thoughts and life with all of you and to create a regular practice of writing and reflection for myself. This is easy and fun to do. So is playwrighting. And yet, I’m writing on the blog regularly. Hmm…
Must create daily writing practice beyond blog. So many practices…
I’m beginning to think more and more about how having a very small person living life with us will change the way we live.
There are the obvious things that have taken up mental space lately: we have to plan a Bris, we have to decide about cloth diapers (which variety rather than whether or not), we have to have clothes, a bed, etc for this little critter. (And Nathan made me put the baby spoon we use for ice cream in the Raspberry’s drawer, even though he won’t need it for months. Both kids are very aware of his impending arrival and doing their parts to help get ready.)
But as those vital but small issues get settled, the make way for larger issues. How will my time change? How will my mind change?
I recently read two interesting essays about art and family. Though I do many things professionally, I do consider myself an artist. A Theatre Artist, which I can barely say without giggling because I fear it sounds pretentious. I’ve just gotten comfortable with the idea that that is what I am and now it is possible I will move away from it. For example:
I have a very generous grant from the Berks County Community Foundation in 2011 to write a new play for young audiences. I’m very excited about taking on this project and I feel like it is the perfect thing to do in my child’s first year of life. But when I mention it to people (ironically, people I barely know who ask what I do) they get very concerned that I have no idea what I’m getting into and that there is NO WAY I will be able to do anything but be a fountain of food, diapers, and sleep if I’m lucky for the next 18 years.
It makes me want to do the Diva Snap and say something like “You don’t know ME!” and then flip my hair and walk away.
But they don’t know me! Though I have been saying no to things (although I just joined a committee yesterday), I want to have artistic projects going. Obviously life will change when Raspberry arrives, but I hope to involve him in the art too! Why not!
Posted in family, pregnant, theatre
Tagged baby, creativity, family, inspiration, personal, playwrighting, theatre, work, writing
You know I love the TED talks.
I also love Ben Cameron. He used to be the Executive Director for Theatre Communications Group (TCG – the professional theatre organization that publishes American Theatre Magazine). He also worked for Target, giving out grant money to worthy organizations. Now he’s at Doris Duke, giving out grants to performing artists.
I also saw him speak at PennPAT (Pennsylvania Performing Artists on Tour). He was funny and engaging, and because the group was smallish, had time to speak with us casually afterwards.
I’d love to know what you think about him and his talk.