Monday, December 13, 2010

work ethic: notes to a student

Today I tried to address work ethic with a few students. It is really hard to address work ethic with students. There are so many reasons why we can't seem to get to work or stick to the work. I am not sure where I learned the discipline that I have... watching my mother paint, even when there was no gallery hunting her down or buyers, having to do chores, regular music lessons, even though I really struggled with them and had such a hard time with anything musical... or am I just obsessed?

I swear that any success that I have had is simply my ability to stay in the studio and plan my life so that I can be alone in a space... and stay there. Not that I don't struggle with committing to some kinds of things! But creating art has not been an issue for me...

what I suggest to students: investigate why you self sabotage?
or if you never had to work hard at things, maybe you have to learn that later in life, rather than blaming yourself- just accept that no one ever taught you and get to work learning a new work ethic, try to learn something really exciting and hard, make a schedule and give it to someone who cares about you, talk about it, pay for regular studio space (put some skin in the game), create a real deadline (call that person you admire and hire them to come see 15 minutes of finished material for a date in the future and pay them up front.) Apply for a festival BEFORE the piece is done... or ask yourself how you are working that isn't fun? if it is fun
you will want to do it! SO if it isn't, maybe you are doing the wrong thing... OR maybe you need a bigger purpose - WHY are you doing it? If there is no burning reason- then you won't do it. I always work on something that scares me and many of the successful creators I know do the same... it has to mean something big and real... it is too hard to create otherwise...
make it personal and make it useful

healthy animal, physical/emotional connection Dec 13/2010

A short session after a long time of no work like this

gorgeous... just stretching and committing to staying in the physiological moment. I released so much pain and tension. Often always in virtually a yawn... long ones, imperceptible ones... but lots of release in my tongue and breath when I do this with
sounds like animals. It is so simple and yet takes real discipline to keep in the real physiological moment and move through as much of the body as I can feel. The pain and pleasure as guides as to what to follow, gravity is so easy to lose. I didn't feel much of blood today- mostly trying to stay balanced in gravity and muscular skeletal and pain release- going to just the beginning of sensation where there is pain and then breathing through until my right hip (I think gluteus minimus and medius -didn't want to get the anatomy book out today- not enough time and didn't want thought) which I was able to release- I should watch how long it stays released- it is so chronic- can't believe I have 'fixed it'. IF I were to do this regularly- as I will in April - June (can't wait !!!!!!!!!) it might really stay open... but it has been that way for years... but to know that if I chose I can go to sensation and breath/stretch it out...
why do I not do this every day - even for 10 minutes - that is the real mystery to solve!

I was taken as always to scriptural - not words exactly--- no thoughts... images? The seas of loving kindness moving within me... in this place- certain images in scripture are not abstract but 'mystical hard science'...

had music on (Sigur Ros/Album Leaf stuff like that) it helped me

also... really got how so much thought is just idle fancy and vain imagination... and being in the moment and waiting for deeper... again, not sure the word is thought- and image is not right either - and neither is it sensation

something soul ish - but that is hard to name

feels REAL and something I trust...

figures I was able to go to this place today as yesterday I collapsed in tears in a very good friends arms- a woman who I deeply respect and admire... in tears feeling my sadness at being not in the 'good pleasure of Baha'u'llah'

my body and my spiritual emotional blocks are completely linked and one. If one is blocked- so is the other... seems obvious and yet, why then do I keep moving forward when I am numb? why do I not stop and wake myself up?

Numbness, deep, old numbness is the hardest place to stay in this work- because there is so little to go on- so I often just skip it and I am sure there is so much I skip that I am not aware of- as I see my students skipping whole chunks of their body and having no idea that they are doing so and places I have some vague awareness where I manage to stay long enough to find the emotion first and then some sensation
like the tears awaken the nerves, which awaken the sensation in muscle... must study this... the body/neuro science of this...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

gravity and performance

I really think the simplest things take the longest to learn. We use terms like-
get grounded, he's in his head, she's riding high, they were off the floor...

The simple act of breathing to stop adrenaline and feel gravity is so easy to do and therefore to forget to do. I asked my chiropractor what I could do to support the work she was doing... she said- if I tell you what you can do, you will think it is too simple- and you won't do it... I asked anyway

what?

Take time to breath and drink water.

And she is right, that is hard to do, because it is so simple.

'I (God) am closer to you than your life vein' says Baha'u'llah

This great gift- gravity- is right there, every moment and I take it for granted... the gift of my heart beating and the sensations in my entire body are right here with the floor... now, anytime I need it, I can feel the floor hold me- not an abstract idea, but real sensation of gravity... my best lover, my most trustworthy and supportive friend... it holds me unconditionally and I ignore it, think I can handle things on my own... SUCH AN ILLUSION!!

York and Canadian Stage

Today there was a formal announcement at Canadian Stage about a collaborative program that we have designed for directors... it was actually a lovely event- and I was thrilled that we have succeeded at pulling this together! It is for two directors every other year starting in Sept 2011, and BMO has put money forward to hire an an artistic mentor for the program- and Kim Collier has been hired... all very exciting...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Yasi Tokunaga

Yasi Tokunaga has been running the dance department at Th Boston Conservatory for many years and she is someone I respect a great deal- here is an e mail I sent her recently:

Dear Yasi

I heard you were leaving BC- Kate sent me the announcement

I just wanted to congratulate you and tell you how much I learned from you and have been and still am- impressed by you

this is how I think of you:

-you have run an EXCELLENT program for years under very difficult circumstances
-you have been brave, fair-minded, creative, adventurous, wise and truthful
-open and yet strong in your views
-kind and full of humour
-listened deeply to those around you when needed
-a smart collaborator
-an excellent teacher while administrating (and I am learning how difficult that is these days!!)
-an example and mentor to students and faculty alike

You should be very proud of what you have done and I am sure will continue to do in new forms...

and if you were in Canada I would nominate you for what we call here- The Order of Canada
a very prestigious award in this country

and you would more than deserve it....

We do not have the right kind of traditions to honour people like you appropriately

but I do honour you and respect you and thank you

please keep me informed of what you are doing once you leave...

love

Erika

Sunday, November 14, 2010

true foundation - another note to an actor

In my various notes to students lately, i am finding that if i read them as messages to myself, I learn a great deal... today I sent a message to a student in response to a report assignment - it is their monthly evaluation of how their own physical practice is going. So far my 4th year acting students have been writing very well though out examinations of their practice. One student, however, wrote me a brief statement... more or less: I failed, I am disappointed, I will try again.

This students work has felt a bit in a lull- something familiar to us all and I wrote back:

I would encourage you to take a deeper look at your process. If you are not able to get to the work you had planned, then maybe the work is to ask yourself WHY?

Are you:
depressed
angry
rebelling
lack work ethic
afraid of success
afraid of failure
over tired
sick
in the wrong work
uninformed

If you are happy with the way things are then maybe none of these things are true- but if you are not- are any of these things resonating? If so- then this is the work... adjust your practice to INCLUDE addressing this issue.

If the building you are creating keeps collapsing, then you need to examine the foundation... it can be very hard to tell oneself the truth

Without truth, you cannot grow...

not pushing

I managed to find an hour in the studio and I was able to really move from a deep visceral place. I was also able to see how much I push from the muscular system. It is an old habit that is hard to break. I wrote some notes to another faculty member about an older- very mature actor, who is afraid of confronting old patterns, and what I wrote could easily be a prescription for myself. I want to make real change, but i can see how deep the old patterns are. It takes a great deal of vigilance to begin from a new place. I also realized, however, the advantage of age... there are less big bogs of emotional muck to get through as I feel my internal viscera... i do not seem to run in to as much cathartic emotional release (unless that is because I am working so rarely- but I don;t think so.) It feels like when i manage to work authentically and follow the real 'guts' of my impulses they lead me to:

-releasing physical pain and stiffness (although I have to be careful not to head for pain, but sit just before sensation and feel through the blood/breath etc... inside the muscles etc)... the healing aspect of the work

-a real desire to move towards 'God' and all that that means... no good words for this... 'the realm of being' versus 'heedlessness' (BUT I have to be careful here to sit in 'powerlessness' as this can lead to an INTENSE desire to ACT- which is GREAT!!! but I can then get hooked into superficial responses to this that still feel old... so I must be patient and go deeper... but this is SO useful and can spur me on to great things... IF I can maintain faith and purpose... that is the tough part... the follow through

- the simple pleasure of oneness ... where the two things above come together...

I very much look forward to daily practice- which will not start again until end of April... tomorrow I will check out a studio space on Toronto Island where I hope to work for 6 weeks almost daily and I cannot wait!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

notes to an actor re: emotional workout

actors have a very valuable excuse to literally make space in their lives to consciously, physically, vocally work with their emotions/feelings/thoughts in metaphor.... as you do this, you will uncover very valuable information about yourself that you can offer to your audiences- as they may not have the skills/time to do this kind of work- you can model it/hold it for them... the deeper you go, the more consciously you do it, the richer the gems that you mine will be that you can offer

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Notes to a student asking me about meditation as a part of their warm up and daily routine and feeling like she wasn’t able to be present in stillness

try movement meditation... (the slow walk we used in class, walk on a rope, take 5-45 minutes to stand up)

try using music.(one song over and over or get some music intended for meditation.. I don't have any great selections off the top of my head)

try calligraphy... (write one important word over and over again)

try a mantra (saying something over and over)

a yantra (something you look at like a mandala- can be used as meditation – or any image you like)

try holding a stone or any object and seeing it, feeling it for a long time....

there are lots of different kind of meditations...

every culture has used all of these above and many more in different forms-
make meditation as fluid and fun as you are allowing your warm ups to become!!

experiment!!

also make sure that your spine/heart/breath etc are really warm BEFORE you meditate (like a yoga class, which is ultimately getting you ready for stillness but our contemporary materialistic culture has turned it into fitness alone) and do the work from my class (which is pretty basic- and is part of yoga, part of mindfulness meditation, is pretty simple and universal and actually, to do for real, quite difficult...)

HAVE FUN!

notes to a student regarding how to stay alive during long still times on stage

keep the tension fluid- neither always fully relaxed- or always held
think of the stillness as very active- and maybe give yourself a very long term engaged task
look for the someone in the audience who is... fill in the blank with something really compelling for yourself
the person who I do not know now- but who will be one of my best friends for life... something fun and that provokes you to FEEL and therefore move internally...

In any case, your internal viscera- should be shifting and this will hopefully help make the stillness more alive- also really remember gravity and how much it constantly is changing- don't go numb to gravity- you are still moving, as you always are- but it is just more delicate- great meditative practice!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Joshua Tree National Park Day 6 Oct 14/10

I didn't walk today... I worked and read... I read The Priceless Pearl, written by Bahiyyih Khanum about Shoghi Effendi's life- a critical person in Baha'i history and a writer who I admire more than any other I think... the book brings me to tears regularly and I am in awe at all he accomplished...

I am feeling better... my healthy animal is healthier and I feel energy again in my body and health even! This was the right thing to do- I may not know yet what I am going to do next exactly, but I am clearer and I have one more day of gorgeous desert before heading home where the challenge will be to keep up some kind of healthy physical/prayer practice for myself, as the two are so linked for me now... High park may see a lot of me!

Joshua Tree National Park Day 5 Oct 14/10


I started a longer trail late in the day again and wandered around a few shorter trails earlier in the day... did some easy boulder scrambling... I drove to the Cottonwood side of the park through the largest, most deserted part... very barren and then the vegetation changes dramatically and there are some lovely new kinds of cactus and 'trees' here. I decided to take the trail to the Oasis... a trail they suggest 4-6 hrs for and I started at 3:30, so really I had about 3 hours. I always forget how early the sun goes down here. I decided I would turn around at 5, giving me enough time to get back. I have been walking very slow here, something I consider a triumph, enjoying every moment, not rushing... not just a result of my older aching feet, but that helps slow me down. When I hit the one mile marker, I realize I have done that mile in 20 minutes without trying so I decide maybe I can do the whole trail and I start picking up the speed in case the trail starts getting harder at some point or heads uphill. So now I am cruising, not really looking at anything, end gaining, pleased that I am getting more exercise than I have been walking slow, hooked right back into an older way of doing things. I'm walking really fast for awhile, legs are warm because I have been walking a lot today, so I am moving fast and I almost walk right by a tortoise without noticing and I stop. I have been wanting to see one of these for years, and I almost walk right by. So I hang out for awhile with this guy, he puts his head in before I get the idea to take a picture... I wonder how many things I have missed moving so quickly and I resume walking more slowly again, start feeling my breath again as I walk, laugh at myself and enjoy the scenery for real again- which is stunning. I have lost some time hanging out with the tortoise so I assume I will not be able to make it all the way to the oasis, but then I hit the 2 mile marker and I have made really good time. So once again I think- I can do this, I don't want to come all the way out here and miss the punch line of the trail... supposedly tall palm trees in the middle of the desert... a gorgeous oasis. So I start clipping again. Funny I should be headed for an oasis... I come from water, Nova Scotia and Ontario are full of water. I am not here for the water, I am here for the desert. So I am moving fairly quickly and somewhere between the two mile and three mile marker I suddenly realize the three mile trail BEGINS at the end of another trail that is easily another mile - so I have miscalculated. Now I have to think hard about making it to the oasis, so I pick up my speed more..
I haven't looked around since the tortoise and I glance up and it is gorgeous, but I keep going fast, looking down... and then I round a corner and I can see the trail ahead of me and it is long and no oasis... and I stop. I look down- there is a snake. Now as a lover of snakes I am thrilled. I have seen one other snake in the desert in Utah, a beautiful black and white king snake on red sand... not a poisonous snake. This snake is different, smaller and poisonous, maybe not deadly, but poisonous.

But I have to get a picture, cause of my 10 year old son... cause every time I see something like this I wish he was here and I get my camera and I take a picture, but it is too far away, so I get closer and take another one, and then closer to take another one... and he moves towards me with that sound designed to terrify any living creature and it works... and I do the appropriate thing that my adrenaline tells me to do, I back up really fast. Now I am wondering again if I should proceed or go back, it is 4:45... and I wonder if this snake is a 'sign'. Now I am here looking for 'signs' - big new ideas for my life, but I am very skeptical about the whole nature of external signs, but just as I am thinking about this I see a rabbit… and I think of Harry. Harry was a Mi'kmaq man I knew as a child in Nova Scotia. My mother believed in signs; she did crazy things based on signs… drove me nuts. I am rational person, sure I am a Baha’i, I pray and I believe in the ultimately mystical nature of life and yet I need things to make logical sense, to be scientifically sound. I more and more see this as a limitation, but nonetheless… I still think the mystical stays… mystical and does not move the material world in magical ways, it may move it scientifically… but rocks do not levitate and snakes do not appear for my personal specific spiritual edification.. So then this snake is just a snake, people see animals on trails randomly, or because they go at the right time of day and walk quietly… but them there is Harry and Fred… Harry would appear – at our house – as people often do in the country, unannounced and often when we needed him in some way. He was a healer. Harry always had some odd root of something in his pocket that he would put under your tongue if you were sick or tell you to make a tea with. They often tasted awful and were intended to cure. Later in life I was able to identify one of them he put under my tongue as golden seal…Harry appeared once in my life when my sister and I were staying with friends of family because out mother was ill. I don’t know why he was there, I can’t remember – but remembering the nature of Harry and his heart… I can only assume he was checking in to see how we were doing. Harry did not say much. I think he never said anything unless it was important. He was one of those people who would visit and sit silently in the living room… Harry got up and went outside to see the woods outside this house… there was an island across some water in a lake by this house and it had an inviting path. You could easily walk from the shore through the water to this little and I was maybe 11 and I decided to show this to him. I loved this little island. We went across the water and started walking down the trail. We were both silent. He stopped at one point and listened and gestured me to stop. He said ‘no animals’ and kept walking but listening and looking around. He stopped again and listened carefully…. ‘no animals’ and he gestured that we should go back. He didn’t say anything else, I just knew that this was not good. Fred was another friend of the family from the M’ikmaq reservation near our house in the valley in Nova Scotia. He was a Baha’I and my mother had informal prayer meetings at our house once a week and sometimes he would come. If he came- he would telephone and tell us and this meant that we should start praying while he ran over. His running was his praying. When he arrived we would maybe say one or two more prayers and then we’d have coffee (instant with evaporated milk for Fred) while we had filtered coffee with real milk. Once when he was over, he stayed for the longest time. We quietly wondered if he would ever leave…finally a huge flock of crows landed in the trees around the house… making a racket. Fred said ‘the crows are here’ and he left.

The first day I was here I say so many animals. It felt as if the desert was welcoming me- that the animals had come out to say hello! We are so glad you are here! It was a good day. It made me feel as if I was where I should be. Despite the fact that it was likely totally circumstantial… and yet I knew it was good. So is this snake a sign? Now you’d think the snake would be a sign to GO BACK. Don’t move towards the snake…It’s a poisonous snake after all. But being a woman, the destroyer of the world, I think it means go forward! Eat the apple my dear… but while I am contemplating this and watching the snake move on his way, I decide to go back. It is close to 5 and I do not want to be rushing on the way back and anyway… I can let go of the oasis- I have seen a hawk, a tortoise and a snake! So I go back, I don’t run, like Fred, but I am praying.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Joshua Tree National Park Day 4 Oct 13/10



The more I walk, the less I have to say! I have became obsessed for the first time this trip-with the different kinds of stone... green, sparkling black, red/green mix... kept picking them up- did I think I would find treasure? What am i looking for? a pretty rock? a jewel? It is something materialistic and yet it is not... looking for something to hold in my hand of this place. This time I managed to find four and I made them into a little pretty pile for the next visitor... I walked 4 hours and did not see a single other person... less bliss today and more prayer/thought...
looking for how to transform the dominant purpose of my life to something less self centered than... what I do now? Theatre is a tough art form to believe in when you want to 'serve the world' more concretely... music- well that's like water and air, visual art- everything needs to be more beautiful, no questions, film... dah, everybody is watching film... but theatre???? If I am truly 'anxiously concerned with the needs of the age I live in' and if I truly 'set your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements' (from Baha'u'llah) can I really keep doing theatre??? Keep walking, just keep walking...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Joshua Tree National Park Day 3 Oct 12/10





Bliss... not much more I can say

all alone in the most gorgeous desert and actually walked slow for a long time

Joshua Tree National Park Day 2 Oct 11/10





Today I hiked for 4 hours

(look carefully here you will see petroglyphs, and you can see them thanks to a movie crew who painted over them to make them visible... vandalism really)

had a great prayer/meditation session way out alone in the desert- probably the main reason I come here... I can cry/pray/move outdoors alone... well, not alone if you count the rocks... and the lizards... they are everywhere

I got quite lost I thought (even though I could hear the road... so I was not worried) and then appeared after an hour of scrambling around in the rocks, in site of my car but nowhere near the trail head... then on another long trail where I was completely alone and could hear nothing but the sound of the crows flying and my own feet crunching the sand... after 1.5 hrs of hiking into this gorgeous site (Pine City), again I was exploring and thought I might be lost... and was scared for a moment then began making arrows with rocks for my self so i could find my way back... once back on the trail, and relieved I wondered if I have outgrown this need to scare myself... I don't think I do it on purpose on these trips... but in the desert here a lot of the trails do feel like... make your own adventure and the washes can look a lot like trails at times... but in any case... somehow this feels like a good thing. Not in the extreme- I did that racing buses in Montreal when I was young on my bike- that was stupid adrenaline addiction... but this? this mild, walking alone in the desert (wisely mostly) this feels like... something healthy, something that allows me to push the boundaries in my head too... I am challenging myself about who I am... sure I am a Baha'i- but how really? and why? and can I deepen that... and sure I am a theatre artist- but I could be anything really... right now specifically a writer, or a mover- which exactly and in what doses? and sure I am a teacher- but do I still want to be training people for this crazy industry that I am less and less interested in? Do I really want to keep doing all the work it takes to keep working in this art form that seems so thankless? What do I really want to be teaching? and it goes on and on- this wash or that trail, stop or keep walking... it is all the same question and the tangible nature of this place makes it easier to focus than the circles I walk in in my head- so instead I am out here walking in circles in the desert... it's just prettier here than in my head!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tarantula in Joshua Tree National Park Oct 10/10

I saw a tarantula in the park... video

Then watched him go home... he is only a bit smaller than my hand- hard to see the size here...
So much nicer to see them in their natural habitat than at the pet store- where I usually see them when I buy food for our snake...
(I also saw tons of quail, rabbits, little lizards and birds - so many animal sightings for the first day!!!)



video

Joshua Tree National Park Day 1 Oct 10/10


These rocks are gods, I can feel them. I am not one prone to speak of ‘energy’, I like things concrete- but these rocks are more than they appear. Or perhaps they are exactly what they appear and we are blind. On the plane coming in to the desert the woman beside me seemed to refer to the desert disdainfully; warning me…. It is true looking at the desert at times it appears as a wasteland, an ugly unfinished construction site… especially when we attach our industry to it.
It looks deceptively from a distance like something to avoid.
A magnificent disguise.

These rocks are God’s naked bones

Some big arrogant ones propped up precariously high
Miraculously staying there
Supported by the invisible, humble, oppressed community below
And some are Miro clowns
Some elegant rotund Matisse ladies
Some as severe as Noguchi
Most as calm as Moore.

Walking into the desert for me is like walking into some mystical hypnotic trance.
Today was supposed to be just the- get oriented to the park day.
Thanks to the time change I bounded out of bed at 6 and was walking by 6:30
Cool out, and no one there yet. Just a short hike and get the maps, that’s it.
My luggage did not arrive with me, so I walk in long black pants, no hat, no camel,
no water, the wrong shoes… but the morning is coo-l so its fine! so I think… I’ll just go for a short walk/but that is never quite possible for me in the desert!
I keep walking and walking and walking and every now and then I wake up and ‘Oh I should try to remember where I am!’ and I take a look around, looking for markers, hand holds so that I can pull myself up out of this trance and find my way back to reality. Reality?
This temptress the desert pulls me further and further into her bowels.
75 minutes into the walk I realize I have no water with me, it’s starting to get warm and I am doing everything they tell you not to do in the desert; walking with the wrong clothes, not knowing where I am, with no water on my first day! But turning around is like sitting down really hungry in front of the best nachos and not eating.
no that’s not even close
its not physical its mystical
turning around is like… absolute faith that if you keep walking, the answer to all the mystical longing in your heart, that pit at the base of your soul will be, is being filled, walking towards an eternity that is tangible and then… stop to turn around and get water? Are you kidding me?

Clowns, gods, magicians, sorcerers, temptresses, healers, I can feel them, I can feel this place. I am not an ‘energy’ person I tell myself again, I will not become one of those…. You know…. but I can feel this.

I walk up to some of them (ys the rocks) and I hug them… wondering if they can heal me somehow (and wondering if anyone is looking)… I can’t say that in touching a rock, no matter how lovely… feels like anything. It doesn’t. It is the whole gestalt of the thing…
Hugging a rock is cool in the heat at times, relaxing, but mystical for me? No.

There are rooms in the saunas in Korea, fully doomed with crystal or amethyst, it is exquisite, lying down and looking up at the doomed ceiling surrounding you with jeweled rocks- I couldn’t feel that.
But this!

It makes me believe that all those healers with those rocks that they say somehow are healing you just sitting on the windowsill while you are having a massage (and I really just think- well, yea, they are pretty and beauty is comforting…. But come on!) Likely
they are, it’s just too subtle for me to feel through the armor and the mess I am in!

But this I can feel! I need a massive desert to feel what those healers can feel from one chunk of rock.

These rocks can heal me- I do not know how, but how could they not? They have been here for so long!

Sometimes I think that when we are not here they dance

No….

Really they are trying really hard not to laugh… because we cannot be allowed to see them move… when they are alone, they slide out of their sullenness and laugh at us! Or maybe they are angry, angry at our folly, our hubris, our idiocy and arrogance.

They are not dancing, they are angry when they move! And they are laughing!

No

It couldn’t feel like this here if they were angry.

No, these are gods, they would not laugh, they do not move with anger, they ache for us; they absorb the pain we carry and create, they take the job of footstool for us and with grace- yes! that is a word I can associate with what I feel here. But at the same time I feel… chaos and confusion but not a chaos or confusion that is wrong, it feels like the swirling beginning of things ancient, even more ancient that the word ancient can hold.

It is a chaos of peace and infinitely slow germination. These naked gods are absorbing our pain. They are absorbing my pain



That is why there is so much of this vast desert!
It is the place where our folly is purified…
It cannot be easy to absorb all of this aching and be at peace…
These are gods

Nothing is too much, too dark for these rocks to absorb, nothing. There is nothing these naked gods have not seen, nothing they have not endured and yet they see us, hold us, each of us as we walk amongst them, ON them, they see us as individual as they are, and they continue to suck the poison from each of our wounds whether we know it or not. They drink us, as thirsty as they must be, calling on our blood to move towards them, calling on every fluid, ever part of us married to water, they call this part of us out to them… and as they do this we lose the edges of ourselves and if we are willing we can enter them, with our wetness and they receive us like the rain.

Friday, October 8, 2010

falling while standing

I had another short studio session... I am finding it easier to work standing these last two days- as I can now feel gravity so much more easily than in the past while standing.. the ability to switch my awareness into - while standing - with full breath, into gravity awareness is fast and from there I can follow kinesthetic impulses... today I noticed that the places free of tension are just as rich as the dense ones... the ones free of tension I can use longer, they have more range of impulses and the impulses can travel more easily elsewhere. The dense/tense/painful places are 'thick', rich and allow emotional memory and just 'feeling' that is at times emotion and other times may appear as emotion, but is just tension release/tremoring...

I like this idea of seeing these places as different rather preferring one to the other. As I say to my students- that the dense places are gems, your rich library waiting to be researched, uncovered... rather than things to get down on yourself for... as ou limitations make us unique, our pain allows us to learn compassion...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

holding breath while feeling blood system

I have been having quite a struggle getting in to the studio... teaching the Kinesthetic Transference work, warming up with my students and then never having time to do the work myself. I am more than hungry to do the work- but my job administrating the graduate program at York is quite time consuming. I have found myself quite frustrated- but in a way this again clarifies for me what I long for at this time... to simply be able to practice this work and do more serious embodied research. Today I was able to work for 1.5 hrs- nothing really but still better than nothing! And I am able to land inside the work pretty quickly. My ability to juggle sensation through many of the systems seems to not diminish- in fact seems stronger than ever. I am practicing this while I teach it- and I must learn to separate this work in my mind from being 'fit' in the usual sense... as this is more mind/body fitness. I have been experiencing some pain in my diaphragm/lung area and I was able to use that to feel more of my liver/diaphragm than I have ever been able to feel before. I came to a halt however when I had pain in my right foot. It seemed to require a different kind of attention than the 'sensation' elsewhere in my body. I never quite figured it out and I shifted to more mind directed work. I did some breathing work and was feeling my blood system between inhale and exhale as it speaks about in the 'Centering' section of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones - It is astonishing how long I can... I wouldn't even call it hold my breath... but stop breathing as i focus on my blood system. Feeling the blood seems to distract me- as I have heard that free divers for example will distract themselves from breathing by going slowly through the alphabet and thinking of people they know with names that begin with each letter, or sing a song they know over and over and other tools to distract the brain for the desire to breath... as I was doing this I did not time my breath holding- but at the end of the exhale I would go into quite a deep state and it was only at some point where I thought- gee... is this not healthy? I should breath soon... that I would breath. I suspect that this is not so healthy but I am not sure. The place of feeling the blood with gravity sensation is so peaceful and without the breath it takes on an even deeper calm... I feel I must study this more carefully before I continue to practice... I am sure there must be yoga practitioners/meditators/divers who have addressed this

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

back in the studio

I am slowly back in the studio again trying to figure out what is next. I am astonished at how slowly I have to move- both physically and mentally... this feels like it may be a long up hill battle... I have no interest in determining too quickly what the next solo or project will be. i will be spending 8 days in Joshua Tree national Park in 2 weeks
- maybe there I can focus and get a hold of something real or quit this art thing finally (unlikely- but it is where I am sitting a lot...)

maybe it is time for me to just be a teacher (everytime I say that it does not happen)

Friday, July 23, 2010

creativity in decline

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/07/10/the-creativity-crisis.html

people are not going to theatre- Magnetic North Festival is in financial woes and Luminato was struggling with tickets sales... can we just say
oh well! people are not interested?
what must I do... we do... to examine why people don't go
sure it relates to TV/DVD/COomputers... audiences seem to be getting increasingly literal- even the rise of documentaries is fantastic but makes abstraction and metaphor less and less something people are familiar with.

BUT what can I do? yes we need more arts education and this is a tragedy- we all KNOW math is hard- we have had to do it enough... but do we really know how hard art is when all we get is less than basic instruction and only chances to 'express ourselves' creatively but with no formal principles, skills or techniques taught...

BUT STILL
what are WE doing wrong? Is it really just marketing issues- sure there is no way that the average artist can compete with most commercial marketing giants... although the internet may be changing that

SO do I have to get all my stuff on line and attached to cute pictures of animals to market my shows? MAYBE!

WHAT ARE PEOPLE NOT GOING AND WHAT CAN I DO?

Monday, July 19, 2010

rehearsing in Amherst

,I am rehearsing Poetic License in Amherst MA

fun... great to have the time to reinvestigate the angel... my nemesis character...
it was lovely to be given the theatre to be in it all alone... and I will have more of this time this week... I think I might like theatre again. But then I have these other moments - I found myself staring at a floor lamp... basic theatre light on the floor, tape marks, wood base... I followed the taped down wire with me eyes until it disappeared behind a wing... and I thought
I could be anywhere in time or space in the last 30 years of my life... I looked around and the whole scene, the shins, the house chairs, the tape on the floor, the flat black masonite floor looked like any other theatre, any other week/month/year/city and I was suddenly sick of it all...
why? familiarity breeds contempt? Doing One Pure Longing I was pushing all the edges for myself and then had a show that was full of mess and wonder and unfinished and moments of beauty- but I was trying to do something big and different... did I/we succeed? maybe not - maybe I/we crashed and burned... will I be able to keep taking risks? I laughed out loud- cause I don't think I am capable, actually capable of doing otherwise. And I do not mean that in a pompous way- I really am not capable...
ok, maybe I am... maybe I should try to make something... purely
what? pure entertainment? I am not against entertainment- the show I am working on now is very entertaining (according to many reviews... and performances and apparently happy audiences...) but what does all that mean? Should I care about all that? Do I? can I really get my ego out of the way? Maybe it isn't about ego at all- maybe it really is about service... how to create something USEFUL, ENTERTAINING and MEANINGFUL... did I lose the first 2 trying to do the third in OPL? Joni Mitchell's last album that was so politically correct- I really did not like and I think she is a genius... does one have to TRY to work from that place to get closer to it and then let it go again and go back to the grimmy self to create and hopefully with the effort of trying to do something with deeper meaning or political/spiritual intent, then the next 'create what ya gotta create' maybe gets more meaningful???

AHHHHHHHHHH

art... really, if you don't HAVE to- do something else... way, way too hard...

Friday, July 16, 2010

vitamin D, a little sunshine!

ok sometimes its as simple as a little sunshine
i was- for some time doing this physical meditation practice walking outdoors... then sometimes I do it in a movement studio... so sun or no sun? bet it makes a huge difference... but being in theatre I spending so much time in blacked out spaces... not good, not good!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Trigeminal Neuralgia

So if I am going to tell the truth here- what I am really in the midst of re: healthy animal- is a condition that I have that comes and goes called Trigeminal Neuralgia

basically and electrical headache... varies is pain- but at its worst- like an ice pick thrown at your head... (the doctor told me 'we call them ice picks')

The headaches are a drag- but the fatigue that they cause is my main issue. It began 12 years ago and was really bad then, but now comes in less painful doses- but is starting to happen more and more frequently. I am now going to do the 'healthy animal' work
to get healthy for real! See if this work that I do - with emotional connection and awareness is HELPING or AGGRAVATING this issue. I am rehearsing for Poetic License that requires a piece of choreography that is not physically demanding in some ways- but I use a conscious connection to what I would call my nervous system to make the spastic movement of my muscles to play my sister who had (and died from) MS

Trigeminal Neuralgia is often a precursor to MS... and when I had it 12 yrs ago- they basically ASSUMED I had MS, but I never did the MRI. And I am pretty healthy and my sister has ... gone home, as she would say.

SO... do I have a mild case? Just TN and not MS? Did I avoid it by something that I am doing? Am I risking getting it by walking into the fire of playing someone with it and working physiologically???

Who knows...
but I am going to investigate...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 8th- my birthday more private work

Had a brief session today after a long walk
simple, used toes a lot and really can feel how using the fingers/toes actively engages so much
the squeezing that the martial arts talks about
so worked INTENSELY with toes, some basic dance work and then a fast tense releasing- like neural flossing- which i really want to study/understand more

was a lot of work, but i think it released other things
then went into rehearsal...

MAr 5

Had a 25 minute session
Began on floor- under blanket- music on

Started really easily into the work… continuously finding that I was hungry to engage muscles- but as typical for me- not balanced with releasing into gravity
So kept moving back and forth- gravity… muscles… blood… gravity

TONS of pleasure… all round

Almost hit ecstasy immediately … sang occasionally- very aware of typical tension in back of neck… slowly was able to release some of it- singing improved…
Awareness of prayer- but only vaguely
Then checked time and saw I had more than I thought
- collapsed- more full release into gravity
- (lying with head/chest on coach, knees on floor- good position for me
really released, sank into right hip… lots of pain… but tolerable
stayed there and decided to try and move it…
felt that slightly nautious feeling that tells me lots of nervous system/emotion/history
simply started there in muscular engagement and tried to move it with nervous system (or whatever I mean by that!) up and out towards my hands… lots of tension
but moving/stretching tension… released into gravity- did this several times and then end with HUGE scream… new sounds for me and then released into BIG breath, holy spirit stuff and release and submission…

felt right, felt healing- not much emotion at all… mostly physiological- even the scream- which certainly had a call the police energy!

Must now remember to watch the hip

I did not have typical shaking after this… (good sign? Bad sign?) I think good sign- as I think I really released more fully than when I shake and I used gravity and breath well to ground the energy…

I now feel so much better and as usual wonder… why I don’t do this every day

I feel alert, ‘cleared’, happy…
And this really only took 20 minutes

Mar 14

Big session today
Standing with music to start… really was able to follow- with no warm up- the nerves- got out anatomy book…
Also could feel how out of shape the muscles were- could FEEL that fact- and how sluggish they are…
So clear

Then read Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, then Godfrey’s book on immunity, then Body Stories, then did more work… in hips… slow stretches and BIG deep breath- really feeling the tightness in my hips and how that affects my diaphragm

Tried to get over my prejudices about ‘cellular’ sensation and read more about that via BMC… which made me focus on blood in lungs and marriage of breath… to breath entering blood system- which I cannot feel!!! I can feel tons of sensation from breathing
And I can feel more and more detail in my blood system
But I cannot feel in a specific way air going into blood…

I can IMAGE this and use my imagination about this AS I feel breathing sensations and blood sensations… and marrying the two (something I have been working on for some time) does lead pretty fast to that tingly… oneness feeling of boundaries blurring between skin and air- and some of her language does address this directly- but that feeling still feels pretty global and non specific to me… and I am hesitant to name it… but her language does resonate with that feeling… but am I feeling my cells??? I have no idea!

Feb 6 private work

Feb 6

Realizing how hard it is to feel full blood system while muscular skeletal system is very active. I was walking and really controlling my walk and then I let that go and there was a flood of sensation… more breath, much more swing in legs and arms, more pleasure and joy and actual movement… less tension. AND I could feel blood in hands- and vaguely in back of neck and at times tongue and lips… but not much else. I stopped a few times and felt the blood system- pretty accessible when still except calves- which continue to be numb… my tension/issues there are big. I need to keep feeling blood system first thing in the morning… why is it so accessible then? Because the M/Sk is quiet? I keep reflecting on the words ‘come to throbbing life again’ and this is what I feel I am seeking… can one (and have I ever?) feel the full blood system in very active physicality?

Jan 29th private work

Jan 29th- did 25 mins

So lovely… lots of stuff in my left hip… found a glorious moment with arms pinned- found real length and opening in my chest (the way kate can lengthen those arms I think)
In this I found some real tension in my wrists and forearms that I hung out with and was so rich

The gems images I am using in class I think is accurate- that those tense places- those places of pain hold info- hold truth… so hanging in them

I was trying to examine the idea of flowing thru impulses versus staying with them- wondering how that relates to Denise’s idea ‘don’t choreograph’- hanging out there does feel different but if one keeps moving it also feels like the healthy animal does not feel fully heard- that somehow IN the listening… you have to stop and BE in those moments

So rich… I really can’t wait to spend more time with this… it does feel like what I want versus ‘classes’ and yet I am not sure about that- if that is just inertia… but perhaps the thing to do is to do this- which I DO feel hunger for and then see if desire for classes (even at home- on video or what ever) become something I hunger for…

Jan 28th private work

Jan 28 2010

I have done 2 short sessions of going into my body (one just now)
amazing how listening to ones body deeply is sooooooooooo rich...

I can't wait to have more time for this... I think I am really ready to go deep into the work MYSELF again
and I am really curious to see if I can transform my body/soul/habits/posture/prayer practice even more with this awareness work

I am also getting better at working and then being able to deconstruct, reconstruct, describe what I did after- useful to this process of writing about this...

I think the reason I find it so hard to name this work and call it 'mine' is that it really truly is just listening to the body
for real

and allowing it to speak, move...

and there are so many systems that address this- so articulating how this is different? and also not wanting to make it something like Viewpoints... which has become something that makes people think that 'architecture' (her word for intelligent spatial use and design)
is a Bogart thing... when it has been around forever! she simply has some accessible ways of communicating it.. and this may have never been her intention, but people do it anyway (false gods)
I would hate for this to become a technique like that- that commodifies something that is accessible to anyone in many forms

I want it to be packaged, written about- so that it is accessible, useful

that is my latest word as a teacher- how can I be useful... also as a director

if I can figure this out- a way to package this- so that I can hand this info to people- like the glass... and say
this glass is a useful glass...
but the water... I want nothing to do with claiming I know more about the water than any living being...

babies know more about this than I... and that is the beauty of this... it is so simple and yet hidden...
mystical and yet tangible...
and healing, fun, rich...

from private work Jan 18th

Finding my healthy animal:
Jan 18th-

As I was waking up…I just focused deeply on releasing the back of my neck as I was very aware of tension on the verge of pain there. I was very warm and could feel my blood system pretty completely. Took me some time but was able to release the back of the neck and then could feel my face go through some involuntary habitual tension patterns- unraveling. It was only the beginning- but was able to sit with it and watch the facial patterns emerge with truly no doing… then they let go at one point, then it happened again. I very much wanted to move down through the spine but there was so much undoing right there in the neck that I couldn’t really go past that. I had to work very hard to keep my awareness on the back of the neck to maintain that release. The pain in my feet- as usual when I wake (Plantar Faciatis) was at medium level and I was waiting to see if there was a time I could shift- but I did not. It all was mostly proprioceptive versus kinesthetic listening, but there were moments of shifting posture- but very small. I was able to work within the posture I was in. Once I was very present I could use the breath intentionally to release (which felt more active) and this was wonderful. I then focused on the Greatest Name internally- no vocalization. I had the image of painting Ya Baha’u’l’abha on the inside of two round coaches curved towards each other- then I moved that image to writing it on the inside of my body- I could not get too specific with this image- the coach was stronger. I could feel the body as one thing for just a brief time- a reminder that maybe I did not have to deal with the feet directly- but could use the release in one area to be the release in all areas. I have a cold- head congestion and massive tension from holding the space as a director/teacher/mom these days. So letting go of the neck was likely the ideal place to work and I did not seem to have a choice anyway and I was having some success. As I write, I can feel the neck tension coming back- but can still feel the pleasure of the body as one thing (throbbing blood system, ears gently ringing). I sense that if I keep my breathing alive and full- that I will maintain a very tiny bit of this as a whole body release- even if the neck tension comes back.

LEARNINGS:

It was very helpful to be warm. Which the past few days I have been thinking about. That starting back in to the work I must be comfortable and warm to begin.

Waking up I could feel my blood system completely without having to do anything.

QUESTIONS:

I forgot to allow the breath to enter consciously when I began and I am not sure if I can undo whilst doing the breath- and if waiting until I am fully undoing somewhere first is best before I start to have more active breath awareness and doing.

HEALTHY ANIMAL- from notes to a student April 2010

-follow the path of the blood system... from one pulse you can feel to another

-capillaries feel very different than veins/arteries... so hands and blood feel very different from say- belly and blood...

-and remember ... juggling awareness... more manageable and realistic than real full simultaneous awareness that tends to feel more like... getting high or being intensely alive (if you are familiar with runners high- feels like that)

-Some of the folks in Italy (Pontedaro Grotowski center) say that it is impossible and yet i disagree- it is just really hard and takes many years of practice... and it doesn't last that long. I mention this because it is important to know that it is this hard- because if it is coming easy... likely you are missing pieces (I mean consistently easy and by conscious choice- we all have great performances where grace/awareness visits us!)

-the way i get there is by building specific pieces, one at a time INTO the scoring on my performance work, like picking up one ball, then another, then another... with the foundation specific and clear and the details all choreographed... both the external shape AND the things my mind is holding

-and I usually have one or two places where I am working this way for minutes at most- the rest is more normal acting stuff where I am scoring elements of the work into normal acting scoring

-and sometimes I have a blissful moment or two where i get more than I bargained for OUTSIDE those times where I am consciously trying to juggle way more than the normal joe...

-over the years I am getting better at holding this for longer and longer periods of time- but I am talking minutes versus seconds.. I would say that I can hold it consciously with an audience and memorized text etc... for maybe 3-5 minutes at best and it is REALLY HARD with text! really hard! and also hard with movement that is predominantly muscular (similiar challenge for actors with difficult text as for dancers with intense choreography)

-next show i am going for more! Cause when I am there (and I have done studies with other performers to prove this very thing) the audience feels it! and i want to see how far i can go with this stuff!! So build specifically and slowly with small and realistic objectives.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

moving on

So One Pure Longing is done...

and life moves forward. As I rehearse Poetic License, I am thrilled to be back in the actors process- loving this show, able to not be playwright- but performer in a finished solid piece! I love this piece- it's fun, has depth and I keep finding new things in it... of the three characters... Marty (the professor), Kathryn her sister with MS and the angel, Marty feels much cleaner/more specific now and the angel I am finally figuring out (takes me YEARS to figure out my own plays!) I am excited and the logic and NEED of the character is finally clear. The challenge now is... the show does take a lot of energy and I am VERY out of shape- by the time I get to the angle I am pretty tired... and with only 2.5 weeks to the show in Amherst MA... not really enough time- so I will have to keep building my stamina (it doesn't help that I am rehearsing in Toronto in an unairconditioned location during a heat wave!!!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

It has been now 2 weeks since we opened! So now I move on, and wonder if this piece will ever happen again? Three years of work for 4 shows? wow... with my solo work, there is a slow long life afterwards (proven by the fact that i should be right now, learning my lines for Poetic License, which will be at KO festival in Amherst MA in July... so this show has had a life now for... 5 years and counting!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Luminato lunch time interview

Here is an interview from the Luminato site

http://www.luminato.com/2010/about/61

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So the show had 4 sold out performances, very warm response from the audiences, many people sharing that it moved them viscerally and that the images stayed with them as well as the sounds. There were also people completely lost! Paula Citroen in The Globe and Mail trashed it! (As I predicted she would.)

It is saddening to me that the reviewer could not see or did not chose to point out, that this piece was an extraordinarily ambitious and new experiment. That doing a new version of a well known established play, can get easily well reviewed- but when contemporary work steps out into new territory- it is reviewed with the same criteria- I guess this is not a new phenomenon.

I think this was more of an experience than something to be 'watched'. If the observer allowed themselves to relax into it- they were moved... and if they did not... they watched it from the outside... and from that perspective, the experience would have been very different.

I have learned more from this than I can even begin to understand... it will take me years to process.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The info on my show at the KO Festival in Amherst MA this summer is up

www.kofest.com/Poetic%20License.htm

we had a wild day working on refining the end of this piece... we have continued this prayer process and now I am as much curious about that as anything

we all trust each other a lot and the unity at moments is profound... it allows for us to speak about hard things though, which means it isn't always easy

BUT it means that this piece- as abstract as it is- is coming from such deep stuff...

I am grateful, grateful, grateful

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This is an article that was written about the cast from One Pure Longing talking at the Baha'i Centre

http://www.bahainews.ca

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Forugh Farrokhzad- a fantastic contemporary female poet from Iran, extremely well known- was not included in a book of Iranian poets... so contemporary Tahirih's are still being obliterated

http://www.rferl.org/content/Prominent_Female_Poet_Not_Included_in_Irans_Book_Of_Poets/2021180.html
http://www.roxanasaberi.com/

this is about Roxana Saberi's book that I am reading about her experience having been put in the Evin Prison in Iran as a journalist...
We have been working through set ideas and I am finally getting a concrete script... yahoo! The set ideas are coming together in little tweaks and changes and Bretta - the designer- is really sharing exciting ideas... collaboration is fun!

directing now! versus play making...

We are in blissful moments and then really challenging moments- this show is hard on the body and emotions and my actors are brave and they leap in even when they are not sure where they are going. Sometimes they are so brave I am in tears. I am solidifying the script this weekend so we can complete playwrighting phase and i can become director versus creator now- a relief!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rehearsals continue to be remarkable- and we have such extraordinary people and extraordinary challenges.... text work coordinated with aerial work, simultaneous action challenges, singing wile being stood on, singing while standing on someone...

I continue to be impressed with people's willingness to go with me deeply into this journey... rehearsals feel like... we continue to investigate deep issues of oppression, faith and metaphors that run so deep... the veil, the nightingale, fragrance and prayer in many, many forms...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Our rehearsals are intense and running this very emotionally packed material is wordlessly provocative.... our discussions around the warm-up prayers have led us into such fascinating territory: silence, waiting to be moved to share a prayer versus singing a prayer/song you know to get you going, what does it mean to try to find each other in the room and ones connection to the spirit, how does this relate to finding a scene partner, when is talking/singing over another person appropriate and when is it not, what dissonance is beautiful and what is not... on and on we go... feels rich and brave and sweet

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What we talked about was mainly the experience of praying together as a theatre company... or in this theatre project. The audience asked some good questions: how has the group experienced confirmations or 'revelation'? we were all hesitant to answer this- for fear of the obvious potential arrogance there- we all I think realize that it is about working hard, sincere faith, trusting each other, a brave kind of truthful leap into prayer in a new and unknown way in this multifaith artistic community - and letting go of the definitions from one moment to the next of what prayer is...

and yet there have been confirmations... but they seemed to private to me to share... like sharing miracles- they are for the people that experienced them... as soon as you speak them to others that weren't there - they evaporate somehow... and have no meaning, and are even false seeming... but yes, there have been confirmations and we talk about them in the group- and there perhaps they should stay.

Someone asked- if we had advice for folks trying to figure out ways to pray (not alone but in groups) if they were engineers or lawyers or...
we shared that it may appear to non- artists like it would be easier in a theatre/artist context- but that in reality the arts scene in North America is very secular. It is easier to ask someone who they slept with last night than if they prayed!

I let others in the group answer this mainly... and perhaps I should think this through and share more on this. The consultations in the group after the prayers every day are really exciting and i will try over time to share some of these discoveries- we are documenting them and after this project I will compile these thoughts...
We had Javad Zarabian in for two days working on music with us... great stuff! and then last night we all went to the Baha'i center to talk about the show and share the process. We were all pretty jazzed and everyone loved it- about 150 folks there and I think most of them will get tickets! I think it was also a good reflective experience for the group... and it was encouraging to get such enthusiastic feedback!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

some info on the current situation for Baha'is in Iran- that is very relevant to this play... they are still being eprsecuted:

Calls for action as Iranian Baha'i leaders enter third year in prison

NEW YORK, 10 May (BWNS) – As seven Baha'i leaders in Iran enter
their third year of imprisonment, new details about the harsh
conditions of their incarceration have emerged, renewing calls for
their immediate release.

The prisoners are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani,
Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz
Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.

"These innocent Baha'is have now been locked up for two full years
in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, under conditions which clearly
violate international standards," said Bani Dugal, the principal
representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United
Nations. "We call on the Iranian authorities to release them now,
and ask the international community to join us in this plea. The
dictates of justice demand no less."

The prisoners, former members of an informal group known as the
Yaran, or "Friends," used to attend to the spiritual and social
needs of the several hundred thousand Baha'is of Iran. They have
been held in Evin prison since they were arrested in 2008 – six of
them on 14 May and one of them two months earlier.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 2, week 2

Today was extraordinary. I have been debating a long time about the opening scene and I finally committed to doing what we call 'the taking down scene' as the opening. It is intense, rich... and dark, but sets the show up the right way... it is a tough way to start a show... but today my gut was lined up right and as hard as it is I know it is right... our prayers to start the day were gorgeous and I was scared at first... I was not sure about offering a long Baha'i prayer that felt very personal in this multi faith group, especially as the director - my fears of imposing, of 'colonialism' did not stop me though and I shared it anyway and we confirmed in our discussion that we all now feel safe enough to share in our OWN way- without feeling like we are imposing something on others... it has taken us some time to get to this point.

this clearly set the day up well and we were very productive conceptually and technically...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Now I am twittering, writing on my facebook pages and this... it's a lot but it also forcing me to reflect publicly... and document this process, which is frankly profoundly life changing and I know it is so easy on these kinds of tools to just blather on about things rather over positively- and yet this rehearsal process is really unusual and lovely, with a cast that has willingly joined me to create this show in which we are praying together- despite our very different understandings of what that means... and when I say we are praying- it is not as clear as it may sound. We are... in silence sometimes, singing and crying at others. laughing at times, some dancing, some silent as others 'praise', some wondering what 'praise' means, sometimes just saying thank you, sometimes someone is grumpy and distant, sometimes even vaguely angry... and it all is under this thing we are calling 'prayer'... sacred with the curse taken off of it, prayer with the expectations removed... so hard to describe... and it leads to rehearsals that are deeper, more fun, more relaxed, more dangerous material appears as well... of course most of the time we are rehearsing/warming up etc... normal rehearsals... but it is this aspect of the 'warm up' that I am most intrigued by... will it/does it make a difference? If so.... how? And is that difference just for us? will it be visible/felt by the audience? If so- how- in our unity? in the form we create?

This all began from my trying to take the way that i work on my solos into my work as a creator/DIRECTOR. It felt and still feels dangerous. Blogging about it ALSO feels dangerous- because of the understandable prejudices against what people understand 'religion', 'faith' to mean... but as I 'come out' as a Baha'i and try to integrate the practices that I use in the studio that are truly from Baha'i practice into the studio with others, who share similiar... practices (and i like the word practice as i am not refering to just a sense of spirituality- but a practice... be it prayer/sacred singing/silence/meditation/thanks giving/conscious relationship to ancestors) regardless of what... container it may come in... I am finding that MANY folks in the theatre world have some practice that they would call... spiritual or prayer and that this is hardly unusual- BUT is kept very quiet.... seems private and is often not shared for fear of

what?

Day 1, week 2

Today in One Pure Longing rehearsals we sang a lot of different songs- trying to find the right song for the ending. I have been looking for AGES... we have a lot of good ideas and then we find some reason why the song is not perfect. We will eventually bring a few different songs from different cultures together- but so far we are still searching. Tomorrow we will try some improvisations- an exercise called 'secret song' that I love- that can work and also be cacophony!

We also worked the opening choreography that is hard on folks knees crawling on the flooring that is to make sure we don't slide on the steep sloping set...

then we marked through the opening for the designer and for me to see the pieces so far together and it works! yahoo!

Rehearsal May 10th, 2010.

We are starting our second week of rehearsals and finally got Meegwun back.