Diving right in I go. Two days of classes so far it doesn’t seem like much but that shift has started again. It’s back into the busy times and once more I am reminded that I love being busy. That I start to feel alive again. That though being relaxed and doing nothing all day is in part great it doesn’t feel like reality. It doesn’t feel like it matters. Instead it feels that the world is slowing down or that I am slowing down. That somehow the world and I are disconnected, and from there depression or loneliness or bitterness can creep in. I start worrying about things that don’t matter.
And then deep breath I dive right back in and it’s exciting. It’s like taking a plunge in a chilly lake in the early morning, something I haven’t don nearly enough. You are ready for it and you aren’t it feels unnatural and at the same time it is heavenly, just right as your body acclimates and it feels like home. I know already it will be a busy semester. I welcome it. The difficulty will be keeping out the tensions that plagued me last year, the petty jealousies and disappointments, the questioning of decisions. Keeping in the moment and open are difficult when faced with long lists of reading assignments, multitudes of rehearsals, hundreds of plays I really should see, and you know maintaining some aspects of a social life.
Open and in the moment. If I were to make new years resolutions that is how it would sound. Maybe with Obama it is a new year. Maybe that is too optimistic. This is all a side note to the point. What is the point? Open and in the moment. It’s about theater yes? just as in life those two qualities are so important. And so difficult and scary and unpredictable.
I’m working on two pieces right now. Only one week in and two projects well underway. Both are projects with first year playwrights and both are nontraditional theatrical events and processes. Both involve the artistic troop in ways that are very personal and even evasive. Which ends up being fascinating. One piece is in part autobiographical and contains both fictionalizations of real people but also people playing a version of themselves. It goes to very meta places as the ‘play’ is planned and discovered while being performed. That may not make sense. The piece may not make sense. Two scenes being performed on top of each other. One classically theatrical. A well constructed storytelling scene. One based off of movement rather than traditional physical theatricality. There is no director on the project. It’s an open company of decision makers who all come from different training and worlds – though really they are all from Finland and I am the only one from a different world. But I find myself having to catch myself when I try to make sense of things that maybe aren’t ready to be made sense of yet. The process of creation is difficult and there must be enough freedom of discovery. I’m starting to realize I have a tendency to jump the gun. So I’m sitting back on my words a little bit more. Waiting trying to piece it together. I love the piece but I’m not sure if it will be any good at all in this iteration. I think, I hope, it will have may iterations following the mini workshop we are now involved in. I hope I will be a part of that.
The other project is for a class. The assignment is ‘adaptation.’ The idea is an adaptation of a sex scene. What does that mean? any number of things really and this is a project that is also being compiled in part by the group. Rehearsals become more like research. Sharing and over-sharing, sex becoming deconstructed, topics veering from slightly uncomfortable to very. Luckily it’s the actors on the spot and they seem used to his openness. That’s what they do, that’s their job. But where does that line get drawn? Where does life and stage intertwine because of course they always do. For those wondering, there is no sex actually happening in the piece. The playwright is pulling together all the research and ideas but it’s going to be an exploration and deconstruction a way of approaching something that is usually hard to explain. It exists in too personal a space and when it gets pulled out in public it’s usually for the sake of titillation, arousal, or rebellion. That isn’t the goal here. I think the playwright is looking for a way deeper into the moment, deeper into the understanding of what sex is in the moment of it.
It’s all interesting it’s all a challenge. And syllabus’s coming together. So many plays to read. So many plays to see. Figuring out how to afford to pay for those plays. Figuring out how to work enough each week so I can pay for those and other necessities, and how to work enough each week while still having time to do the work I need to do, while going to the rehearsals I need to attend, while seeing the plays I need to see. And then again that social life thing. How important is that? well, very. It’s important to have friends to have people to get your mind off all of the syllabus’s. And a love life, what about that? Can that exist?
Someone I was talking to recently maybe it was in relation to Mike Daisey’s piece on theater, maybe it was not a friend but him, I don’t remember who it was. But the conversation being had was about how artists really want to have a sustainable life. That’s one of the problems. We want to make enough money with our art to live a comfortable life without having to do five hundred jobs at once. But when you disect it it’s not about the money. Money is an issue yes. We are hideously underpaid. But it’s also, a great deal of it, about the life we want to lead. We want the classical good life – family structure, home, and security. But historically the life of an artist was nomatic, following patronage, following the story, travelling, sharing. The world we live in does not easily allow artists to have those things that they desire. Even if you marry your wealthy husband (or wife) and push out (or hold her hand while she pushes out) your two children, the life of a theater artist especially is filled with long hours, it’s a constant battle to keep a sustainable life just by the nature of art that we create.
I read on a blog today, or yesterday, that an opera singer, at the Met I believe, her son was killed yesterday. They lived on the upper west or maybe east side. He was killed in deep brooklyn where he was supposedly picking up his girlfriend. The killing was gang related. He was in a gang. This all speculative. The mother, the singer, was quoted as saying that she had no idea he was involved in a gang. It seemed so absurd that this privileged kid would end up in a gang. Yet, I wonder, if you’re parent is an artist (and obviously this is an absolute extreme) who has to work nights, days, and moments in between, then maybe it is fathomable and maybe rebellion would lead a kid astray.
I’m not saying artists shouldn’t have children. I just wonder how or if it is a problem to have two lovers at once – your art and your lover. How to control the problem of two families at once – your artistic community and your familial community (or friends, or children). How do you give enough of yourself to each. I guess that’s something to be figured out. Maybe I’m just justifying my being single and my lack of a desire to try to hard to meet people. By people I mean men. Okay, maybe this is now getting a little too personal.
So I leave you with this, as a reward for reading all of this, and hopefully not judging it and just taking it as my need to express and share a bunch of thoughts swirling in my head. We watched this clip today in my Theory of Comedy class (which I am amazingly excited for). I’d never seen this clip before, maybe you have, but it is more or less brilliant. Enjoy.