Sunday, May 23, 2010

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

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

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


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.