Hookman @ Company One

I didn’t know what to expect going into “Hookman”- the only thing I knew to expect in great abundance was the blood.  What I didn’t realize was that there were so many similarities between Hookman and my upcoming thesis, “The Cracking Hour” written by Jahna Ferron-Smith.  Both plays are written by young women playwrights and both feature the life of an “average” woman in her twenties.  I also found the tones of these plays to be rather similar, dealing with clichéd themes about women with a rather dry sense of humor.  Because of this, it was really informative to see what worked and what I felt was still a work in process in this Company One production.

Hookman takes place in a small theatre at the Calderwood that I didn’t even know existed… upstairs right next to the entrances to the balcony for the main stage.  The space is set up to seat maybe 30 people, with “splash zone” seats in the front where the audience is provided with raincoats just in case you get sprinkled with… blood.  The set involves the front half of a car, which rotates into the background when the action takes place on the other half of the set, which is Lexi’s dorm room.  Most of the play takes place in these two locations with transitions occurring in the ambiguous empty space between the set and the audience.  The entire set is wallpapered with plastic sheeting that hints at splattering yet to come.  For the most part I found the set to be an effective vessel for this story, although something I was missing was a cohesive mood or point of view- I logically understood the set choices, but I think it was sort of right on the verge of being either completely straight-forward and realistic with the dorm room and the car, or embracing the horror/slasher feel of the play with the plastic sheeting and the gaping whole through which the car emerges.  I just couldn’t quite put my finger on the rules of the world of this play.

The aspect of Hookman that I appreciate most is the tough, and important topics it tackles, and the humor it brings to these issues.  A central theme of the play is female sexuality, which is a topic of huge importance right now; on a smaller scale here at BU with the men’s hockey team sexual assault investigation, and on a national scale with contraception and abortion rights being debated in all levels of politics.  The issues that are grappled with on-stage in “Hookman” with seemingly low stakes (Is this shirt slutty?  Well, was she asking for it?) reflect the way many people from the far right are currently approaching women’s rights.  A comment from Foster Friess really sums it up nicely, “Back in my days they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t costly.”  “Slut-shaming” has resurfaced as something that is socially acceptable for some conservative politicians and advocates, and that’s really scary.  “Hookman” tackles these issues through comedy, although a lot of the time I was laughing with sort of a sick feeling in my stomach, that feeling compounded by the fact that the Hookman was probably lurking somewhere nearby.  The repetitive nature of the scenes gave us insight into how Lexi, the protagonist, might be dealing with the recent death of her friend and a sexual encounter with a boy from out of town that she’s just now realizing might have been considered date rape.  Key scenes are repeated over and over, each time morphing a little, just as we can imagine Lexi might replay these conversations in her mind, becoming a little more distorted with every repetition, and the Hookman is always somewhere at the forefront of the audience’s (and probably Lexi’s) mind.

Another interesting topic wrestled with in “Hookman” is the recent explosion of social media, and the users presumed “right” to information about the other people they interact with online.  I found the story that Lauren Yee shared in her interview with Ilana to be particularly relatable.  Lauren talked about how part of her inspiration for Hookman grew from an experience where she learned that an acquaintance from high school had passed away via Facebook.  When she couldn’t find more information, Lauren felt indignant because she thought she had a right to know details about how this person had died. It disturbed her to recognize this impulse in herself.  Lexi announces several times that she is going to “quit” Facebook.  Our society has become one in which it’s really hard not to be connected. Either you are a user of social media or you aren’t, but either choice says something about you as a person.  I think this play comments on our dependency on social media, and asks us to question our relationship to it.

Overall, I appreciate the uncomfortable themes dealt with in Hookman, and the fresh approach Lauren Yee brings to them.  I think my main criticism of the production is similar to my criticism of the set- I didn’t feel like I totally understood the rules of this world.  The play vacillates between complete “realism” to stylized, clearly choreographed moments, like the bloody fights that occur between the Hookman and Lexi with planned moments for both characters to catch their breath, and a generally surreal tone.  I understood conceptually the idea of challenging theatrical norms, but sometimes instead of illuminating the text, I felt that the choices distracted me from the action of the play.  A lot of cool ideas were flirted with, but I think the production could have benefitted from fully committing to a few ideas, as opposed to sort of half realizing several realities.  For example, an expectation is set up with the “Splash Zone” and the plastic-covered walls that there will be a lot of blood, but the actual amount of blood used in the production really wasn’t proportionate to the hype.  At least in the production I saw, the “Splash Zone” wasn’t ever in danger.  I think we’re so desensitized to violence as a culture, that the amount of blood and the style of violence used in this production wasn’t enough to shock or provoke as I believe was the intention.  I think taking that choice to an extreme- soaking the stage with blood, or else using a less literal, more theatrical device would have made the world of the play more clear to me.  Instead, Hookman hovered somewhere in the middle.  Because of the blurred lines between the real and the surreal, I don’t think I ever understood what “actually happened” in the play and what was meant to be a fiction of Lexi’s imagination.  It’s possible that the audience is meant to leave the show not knowing, but I had this feeling that I was supposed to understand more than I did.  In general, I think a lot of my issues with the Hookman were problems that come with the first production of any new play.  Ilana even says in the program, “Even now, as you sit here in the theatre, the play is not finished.  Audiences in first productions show playwrights what they’ve made, and provide the platform for new insights.”  This play is in process, and things are still evolving.  I understand that and take it into consideration in my critique.  Just as we must consider the world of the play, we must also consider where a play is in its evolution.

In General, I think the story of a twenty-something year old woman is an important one to be shared at this time, not only with the world of theatre, but also with our nation as a whole.  Now’s a time that our rights as females are being questioned, and life-changing decisions about our reproductive rights are being decided by predominantly middle-aged male politicians.  I don’t know if it was Lauren Yee’s intent when she wrote this play, but I think it’s important to share stories about real, complicated women and remind the nation that we need be neither virgins nor whores.  I appreciate Hookman for this reason, and for its ambition and sense of humor.

Why are Men the Storytellers in our Culture?

“Whoever tells the story writes history. Whoever narrates the story gets to frame it,” writes Michele Weldon in the article “Are Boy Bylines Better than Girl Bylines” on huffingtonpost.com. In this article, she discusses the gender disparity between male and female print journalists. The National Organization for Women (NOW) reports that “In various studies…the ratio of men to women writers is consistently disproportionate, with the male advantage ranging from 2 to 1 to as high as 13 to 1.” This is disturbing but not surprising, given that women are consistently and visibly underrepresented in other forms of media. Media Report to Women states that “In 2010, women comprised 16% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 films.” The numbers for television are slightly better, but still, “In 2010-11, women accounted for 25% of all creators, executive producers, producers, directors, writers, editors, and directors of photography.” And, of course, we’re already familiar with the statistic from the Sphinx Theatre Company that only 17% of produced plays are by women.

So why is this?? It seems so obviously wrong. If men are the ones sharing most stories, whether they are creating them or reporting facts, we are receiving almost everything we encounter through a male lens. Almost everything is being filtered through the proverbial Male Gaze. Why??

I guess a lot of it has to do with out-dated but culturally ingrained notions of gender roles; of “separate spheres.” Women are traditionally not meant to work outside the home. This originally came from a fear that this would exhaust their “life force” and drain them so that they were unable to produce children. This is obviously a notion that no one could possibly give credit to anymore, and yet the implications linger. Even when women did begin to enter the work force, they were still meant to stay out of the public eye. The man’s sphere is public, the woman’s private. It seems like there are still remnants of this philosophy at work, since there is a disproportionately small amount of women in the media; the ultimate public sphere.

In terms of creating work, there used to be the belief that women could not be playwrights because they did not know enough of the world (due to being confined in their private spheres). Women, of course, did have broad ranges of experiences within these spheres, but it was believed that they weren’t interesting or dramatic enough to be turned into art or stories to be shared. I think we are still dealing with this idea as well. A movie that centers around a woman, for example, is a “chick flick,” a genre piece, and the perception is that it is meant for a female audience. A film about a man, though, can express universal truth. Man’s experience is the human experience; a woman’s experience is the female experience. Filmmakers work under the assumption that a woman will go see a movie about a man, but a man is much less likely to see a movie about a woman. This may be true, but if it is, it is only because we are all socialized to believe that the male experience is universal, while the female experience is a niche.

I don’t know how to change this. I guess the only way is to, well…change it. Get more women out there writing, reporting and selling stories. Maybe we will have to make our stories more compelling than the men’s in order to get them heard. Maybe we’ll have to work twice as hard. But I’m certainly willing to try.

Trajal Harrell…Wer(q).

Trajal HarrellAfter having read A Critics’ Conversation: Modern Dance Madness and researched all the artists mentioned in the conversation, I have been incredibly inspired by the works of Trajal Harrell.

Trajal Harrell is an American choreographer who graduated from Yale and has been working globally ever since.  What fascinates me most about this artist is the piece he is currently touring with, entitled “Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church (M) also known as (M)imosa” (Here is a video excerpt of the piece).

This video mesmerized me.  The piece looks unbelievably provocative and challenging.  What a concept!

As we all recall from Modern Drama, The Judson Memorial Church became home to the Post-Modern experimental movement in the 1950′s.  Artists like Yvonne Rainer, Rob Rauschenberg, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton and many others set their first works in the sacred Judson Dance Theatre, where anything could happen.

Paris is Burning is a documentary film about the Harlem Ball Scene in the late 80′s.  This is where voguing, the aggressive, effeminate dance form, was born.  Jennie Livingston, the director of this amazing documentary who I had the wonderful opportunity to study with at Connecticut College, is famous for bringing the ball kids and their stories to the forefront of America Cinema.

So what happens when Vogueing and The Post-Modern Dances of the Judson Dance Theatre have a conversation?  Trajal Harrell describes his current investigations:

“By bringing together aesthetic theories from the Judson legacy with the Voguing dance tradition (an underground African-American and custom of social performance and fashion show appropriation begun in Harlem during the same time as Judson Dance Theater), Harrell complexifies the historical narrative of the Judson period and its subsequent influence on American and European contemporary dance. Beginning in 2001, the choreographer used these two contrasting aesthetics and their parallel histories to stimulate a dialogue about the American as well as international youth culture obsession with “Cool,” investigating the evolution of “Cool” and the interchange between “Cool” as a social motivation and “Cool” as an aesthetic. The choreographer has gone on to explore the boundaries between community and audience, sincerity on the contemporary stage, and the relationship between voguing’s “realness” and early postmodernism’s “authenticity.”

Thus, the piece speaks for itself in dissecting a conversation between the two movements.

Something I highly admire about this work is that it comes in multiple sizes.  Depending on the programming, the piece can be performed as a solo or a quartet in a small, medium, large or extra large size (extra large meaning an epic full-length presentation).  I think this is an intelligent way of creating one’s work for performance.  This means that the piece can be performed in several different venues and circumstances so that more audiences can experience the work.  I imagine that it is critical for dramaturgical methodologies to be employed in order for the work to resonate in such contrasting time lengths.  This is a choreographer that is diversifying American audiences are experiencing and I’m glad that I have discovered his work to share it.

Paul Taylor at the Center of American Modern Dance?

Recently, I read an article titled A Critic’s Conversation: Modern Dance Madness on the artsbeat blog.  Alastair Macaulay, a NYTimes critic, introduced a critical dialogue with his peers about the state of Modern Dance today.  In his introduction, he writes:

“The recent season has prompted me to propose that Taylor stands at the center of the American modern-dance tradition.”

For reference, Paul Taylor (b. 1930) is an American modern choreographer who has been creating work since the 50′s.  Recently, Taylor’s company had a three week engagement at Lincoln Center (home to the American Ballet Theatre), which, in a way, is a feat for the modern dance world at large.   This article, written by Mr. Macaulay, is a review of that event.

I felt a bit uneasy when I read Mr. Macaulay’s statement.  Personally, I am not a huge fan of Taylor’s work, but regardless of my opinions on his choreography, how can any one person be at the center point of modern dance?

I feel passionately that Taylor and his works cannot exist as the center point because there is no center.  Dance is an art form!  It’s always shifting and changing and responding to the moment.  Some choreography is stuck in the past and Taylor’s work, I might argue, has qualities that lend itself to being “dated.”  How then , in that case, can something of the past be at the center point of the present?  I wonder if it is the popularity and longevity of his work that makes it seem as though it could hold such authority.  The Taylor aesthetic is distinct, and although there are many companies who imitate his style, it is certainly not the only one out there.  Trisha Brown, who is also a highly reputable modern choreographer, has a style that is nothing like Taylor’s.  I just don’t understand how one can measure dance in such a way.

Many of the critics in this article had similar opinions.  Claudia La Rocco wrote, “I wouldn’t say there is a single tradition in modern dance, or a single center — and this, I think, is a great strength of contemporary dance today, that there is no one ruling orthodoxy,” and I whole-heartedly agree.

What is most rewarding about this article, however, is the list of this year’s choreographers mentioned who are keeping Modern unorthodox.  Many of the names I had never encountered before seeing this article.  Keely Garfield, for example, is making such exciting work that really blurs the line between dance and theatre.

I met this article as a dramaturg and researched all the artists I didn’t know.  I’m elated that the NYTimes is recognizing these brilliant artisans!  They all have something unique to offer to the American dance tradition and give me hope for its future.  I say that because recently, I’ve felt that the only way to do the work that I’m interested in is to go to Europe.  Although I still have a great desire to travel abroad to make art, I feel as though there is a possibility for me to make alliances with working artists in America who feel similarly about theatre and dance.

It also brings me joy to know that these artists are being recognized.  I love that although they’re on the fringe, the virtuosity of their work is finding a voice through popular arts and entertainment news.   These are the artists, I believe and I think some NYTimes believe, that are keeping the modern tradition alive and well.

The Cantab

This past Wednesday I went to see my friend compete in a poetry slam at the Cantab Lounge in Central Square, Cambridge.  The Cantab has a rich history of poetry and music and is nationally recognized as a great slam venue.  I felt lucky to be able to go and I plan on going again whenever I can!  It was awesome!  I was struck by the diversity within the community and the great sense of support for everyone from everyone.  I have attended many slams in California, where I’m from, and always there is a sense of support for the poets and disrespect for the judges, which I think is an important and fun element of slam poetry.  For those of you who don’t know, a poetry slam is a spoken word poetry competition in which the poets perform, are judged, and then move on or don’t, based on their scores.  This particular slam was one in a series that decides who will compete nationally on the Boston Poetry slam team.  I had not been to a slam in several years, and I quickly realized that my listening skills were rusty.  Spoken word goes incredibly fast and is densely laden with images, ideas, feelings, etc.  all expressed in sharp, concise poetry. Slam really uses words as weapons, a concept which we explore in acting classes, but I have never seen so directly embodied before.  These poets are interacting with politics and oppression of all kinds.  The poetry I heard addressed specific issues in such a vivid, personal way.  Poets force you to listen to them.  Poets are powerful! As I watched, I realized all over again that Spoken Word is hyper theatrical.  It examines human life and tells stories in a similar way that theatre does, and those poets who embraced theatricality, tended to ‘do the best’ according to the judges.  It is interesting how in acting training, we spend so much time ‘getting rid of our judges’, whereas in slam they give them power and say ‘fuck you’ to them anyway.

The modern Poetry slam movement began in Chicago in 1986.  It is a fringe movement, driven by activists and artists.  I was surprised to learn from my friend who is deeply immersed in the slam community that it is a very male driven art form and there is a lot of sexual abuse of women within the slam community.  I was shocked to hear this because I’ve always thought of slam as a tool through which the oppressed can attack the oppressors.  Apparently though, recently in New York, in St. Paul, and in Vancouver, there have been accusations of rape within these slam communities.  Each community is handling these allegation in a different way.  I have not been able to support these facts, as there is not information about this available online as far as I can find, so I report this with my source being word of mouth from my friend.  The perpetrator in New York has been banned from competing in New York and has been prosecuted legally, but could not be proven guilty.  In St. Paul, the offender was banned from the slam community for two years and I don’t know if he was prosecuted legally or not.  In Vancouver, the abuser was not prosecuted legally or excommunicated, but rather dealt with in a very honor/shame system way.  Once the women that he had raped spoke out, the slam community supported them, told the offender’s parents and friends what had happened, and required him to go into treatment for anger management.  I find this approach interesting and very reflective of the poetry slam community.  To me this shows that the slam community is one that is so tight-knit that a transgression of this kind can be handled more effectively by the community than by turning the case over to the police.  Feeling as if one has hurt one’s own community is awful, and he is now also in treatment programs that he might not be in were he in jail.

At the slam that I attended, there was a very powerful poem about sexual assault.  All of the poems were incredibly moving. As I sat in my seat and watched, I found myself observing the audience.  There were young, middle aged, and older people sitting side by side, of all different colors and sizes.  There was an older African-American woman sitting and watching in what looked like her Sunday best.  I suddenly had such a strong image of church.  She could be sitting in the pew and looking up at the minister, or rabbi, or officiator with the same expression of awe, joy, and rapture.  Instead she was looking at a young white boy slam about his loss of virginity with an older man.  She was clearly enthralled and moved by his story which he shared with sharp images and vulnerability. Slam is the religion of this community, the Cantab their temple, and I could feel the energy present, which left me in no doubt that here there was a higher power, flowing through each poet who got up to speak.  Each poem was a gift, a generous expression of self, a call to action, and each applause was the audience answering with “Thank you, we see ourselves in you”.  As I walked home in the cold spring night, streetlamps illuminating the beautiful trees of Cambridge Port,  I felt incredibly lucky to be an artist.

Is it fair to Jeer? And other thoughts…

As part of ArtsBeat’s weekly Theatre Talkback column,  David Fox wrote an article about  booing in theatre performances.

For the most part Fox seems to be against booing actors onstage during a performance. He suggests alternative methods of showing your lack of enthusiasm for the production, like not clapping at curtain call.

Personally I think booing during a performance is just about the worst thing a person could do to another person. But, Fox does make the point that the only reaction available to us as paying audience members shouldn’t be a standing ovation.

This article made me think about all the people who walked out of Ma Rainey when I saw it a few weeks ago. While most of the people who left that performance were loud and incredibly indiscreet, I am not opposed to tactfully walking out of a performance if you are no longer invested in the story. I think that if you paid for the ticket, and you can leave without seriously disrupting other patrons, then there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to leave the show if you don’t like what you are watching. I mentioned the people walking out of Ma Rainey to a few others in the following weeks, and most of them were shocked and almost disgusted. Am I alone in thinking it is ok to leave if you don’t like the show?

Having said this, I also have to add that I have never walked out of a show, even if I wasn’t interested in the play. But I think that has to do with the solidarity I feel towards other theatre makers. I want to support them, even if their art is boring, at least they are making something. And I would hope to receive the same kind of support in return. But for a person who is not invested in theatre as anything other than entertainment, shouldn’t they be allowed to leave?

The Natural

I just finished reading ‘The Natural”, an article about Nina Arianda, written for the New Yorker’s ‘Backstage Chronicles’ section by John Lahr.  Arianda is currently playing Vanda, the lead, in David Ives’ new play “Venus in Fur” on Broadway.  The article describes her, at the time she was cast, as a hopeful young actress, just out of school (Tisch Grad School), trying to be successful in New York.  This sounds like any of us graduating seniors.  And she made it!  The article is a bit depressing with it’s New York statistics, saying that “There are some ninety-five professional shows in New York every year-and more that eight thousand actresses registered with actors equity”, but to me the article is more inspiring than disheartening.

Arianda talks about how when she was auditioning for ‘Venus’, she knew that she had almost no shot at getting the role and that liberated her because she was doing her preparation work for her own enjoyment and deepening, not for others’ approval.  She says, “I just didn’t care…about anyone’s opinion.”  She also talks about how she wore a specific scent for Vanda to the audition and about how she wears a different perfume for each character she plays.  I think that this is very interesting, including scent in ones’ character development is an option I’ve never really thought much about.  The article goes on to describe Arianda’s unique, masterful qualities as an actor.  These descriptions interested me less than specific quotes from Arianda herself and from those who she trained with.

One of her professors at NYU, Janet Zarish, said, in describing Arianda that, “She has a sort of creative restlessness…underneath is this cauldron of feeling…she has something always moving through her mind and her body.  I almost feel like acting for her organizes something inside herself.”  I really relate to this quote and I would guess that many of us do as theatre artists.  There is an energy, a need to speak, that is focused and harnessed in performance.  Arianda also says, of playing Billie Dawn, a ditzy woman often labeled as ‘studpid’ in “Born Yesteday, “I never approach a character from a negative place…Being stupid is not active, I thought she was incredibly smart, in a way”.  I find this inspiring because not only do I believe that one must play positives, but because it demonstrates how theatre makes us appreciate each character’s diverse talents and downfalls, creating empathy and even admiration for characters like Billie who may otherwise be labeled as ‘less than’.

Arianda is a good listener onstage.  Arianda says, ” I believe in magic…Actors who don’t listen aren’t serving the magic.  There is no play.  There is no story. There is no character. They just get into their own wonder.  Hate watching that.  It’s pointless.”  The article also talks about how Arianda has different pre-show rituals for each show that she does, many of them based on superstition, on this belief in magic.  She does not want to specify what they are, but she does say that she gets to the theatre early every night and spends time onstage alone before each performance.  She says “Everyone who was on that stage is there…You leave a part of yourself on every stage you’re on.  How could you not live in the air somehow?  There is a great comfort in knowing there is something bigger.  That gives me a great deal of surrender.”  I find this quote particularly moving because it is something that I feel deeply but have never put those words to.  Theatre is ritual, theatre is magic, and theatre has a legacy.  Whether we are carrying on what has come before or reacting to it by creating something entirely new, we are a part of a history of theatre makers.  We are harnessing the energy of what has come before, the energy of the universe which is far greater than ourselves, to tell the story of what is.  Reading this article brought out the passionate, excited, young girl in me.  I remember walking onstage for the first time and feeling that same sense of wonder, of power, of gratitude, and of magic.

Funnyhouse Revisited

As I mentioned in class this morning, this past week I had to read Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro for my gender and literature class. I remembered reading it two years ago in DR202, feeling overwhelmed and lost in what seemed to be a progression of imagery and repetitive, metaphorical dialogue. Upon a second reading, the play was still challenging, but I was glad to find I was able to approach it in its own world, and pick out the references I needed to look into further.

In that class, for certain pieces on the syllabus, a small group has to prepare some sort of interpretation or presentation. The group assigned this play took scenes and themes from the script and made a roughly 10-minute, silent, black and white film of it. It was actually an incredibly interesting way to look at the play. It is, after all, image-heavy, something that is almost lost when reading the script. Kennedy’s stage directions suggest mood and feel as well as specific instructions, but still, the reader must imagine the actual visual.

One of the strengths of the video was its simplicity, and this is as much, if not more of, a testament to Kennedy’s writing as it is to the skill of the students who made it. They didn’t try to interpret or comment on the material, but simply present the images and let them speak for themselves. One shot that really stuck out to me focused on Sarah’s legs and feet, as strands of hair (it was unclear what they were using for the hair) fell into frame and accumulated on the ground. It was obviously not actual hair, but that just added to the disturbing, surreal feel. The moments with hair did resonate with me both times I read the script, because losing ones hair is such a potent metaphor for body image dissatisfaction, lack of sense of self, and general fear, all of which are strong themes in this play. Seeing it, though, or at least a representation of it, really brought the point home.

I guess what this is all getting at is that I made a discovery of a way into a play from a source that I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t think I’d be moved by a student-made video of a play that is complex play, but which I was proud to have “figured out” on my own. But the power of the image transcended the fact that it was being reenacted in a college apartment by a white girl. I feel the play on a new level now, and my desire to see it in performance has only increased.

The Tough Nut: Regional Theatre

The other day I was struck by a point Lydia Diamond brought up in our conversation with Charles Hugland and Bevin O’gara around Luck of the Irish. She pointed out that most female playwright’s work travel the regional theatre route before they make it to broadway, excluding Suzan Lori-Parks, who has had work go directly to broadway. Although this wasn’t a revelatory thought, it was the starting point that ignited my rage and frustration concerning the gender inequalities in theatre. I specifically thought about Kirsten Greenidge in this context.

Here is Kirsten Greenidge, a prolific playwright, who is being produced for the first time by the Huntington Theatre Company– where she was playwriting fellow!! I know that there are many factors, including timing, that prevented Kristen’s work from being produced there sooner. None-the-less, I still find it unsettling that a theatre company who was deeply invested in cultivating an artist’s voice, could still have a difficult time producing that artist’s work. I understand that the regional theatre is a tough nut to crack, but the reality of that, compounded by me reading plenty of articles that discussed the lack of women’s voice in theatre made my head reel.

Somewhere amidst the head reeling I realized that while I am a strong advocate for diversity (of all sorts) in the theatre, I am not the one who needs convincing. Rather it’s the people who have the most power who need convincing. Unfortunately those in power tend to be white-heterosexual-men, and until they understand the necessity of diversity there will continue to be a lack of color in the arts.

What I enjoy most about theatre is that it can reflect the world, and re-imagine it into something powerfully beautiful. It is not only up to me to be a champion for diversity, but you, my classmates to acknowledge its importance. We’re lucky to have Ilana, a forward thinker, who challenges us to engage with that that is foreign. That forward thinking is something that I we can’t lose touch with after graduation.

Critiquing Criticism

My Humana Festival panel…

And here’s some context from my blog for Playwrights’ Commons.

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Watch live streaming video from newplay at livestream.com

Ensemble-Created Work Changing Theatre Scene

I found this article about how Ensemble based theatre is changing America’s (specifically LA’s) Theatre Scene. The article talks about the movement towards work that is created through a collaboration of actors, directors, and playwrights. It is a really great article, and people considering going to LA next year should check out the theatre companies listed.

As a D&P student, the idea that stood out to me was this- I wonder if this movement towards ensemble based work will make the role of designers obsolete? In this process, the design of the production is developed in the rehearsal process, between the actors and designers.  Most  professional designers are working on more than one show at once, and don’t have time to be in the rehearsal hall everyday. But without a designer, the actors and director would have to be much more aware of design concepts.

The article also made me wonder about how the role of stage managers differ in ensemble based work. Would they be a part of the ensemble, with an equal voice in creative choices? It would seem odd, in this structure, to have someone sit quietly on one end of the room. So perhaps this movement is going to cause theatre makers to be more well rounded artists, and not just educate themselves within their discipline.

In this country, your title within the theatre world, and with a certain production is very specific, very narrow, and often defines who you are as a person. But if ensemble based theatre becomes a dominant style, then theatre makers are going to have to change the way they view themselves, and each other.

I think BU SOT is already feeling the importance of this movement, and making changes to accommodate it. This year is the first year that freshman D&P have come in without a declared major. The freshman are getting a more rounded education in all of the disciplines, and take classes with the performance students sooner, and more often.

I find this movement towards more collaborative theatre really exciting. These ensemble based companies are just another example of artists making their own place in the theatre scene, and not waiting for someone else to offer them a job.

The Andersen Project

The Andersen Project was certainly a unique theatrical experience.  It was so epic with so many different components that I came away with mixed feelings, but ultimately very glad I had a chance to see it.  First I want to talk about the performer himself, Yves Jacques.  In the first scene, where he shows up to his apartment above the peepshow, I really didn’t like his energy.  There was something dull, flat, about the Canadian albino writer, I felt like the actor wasn’t fully present or committed.  I was apprehensive given that I knew it was a 2 hour 15 minute one-man show.  However, when he first appeared as the second character, Arnaud the French opera administrator, my opinion shifted.  The first time we meet this character he is having a cup of coffee with the first character.  He talks for probably 15 minutes straight in a thick French accent.  The pace and rhythm of his non-stop chatter was hilarious and extremely compelling.  The energy of the character was so different from the first I realized not only that what I had not liked about the first character was a choice, but that this man was an extremely capable performer.  Both the two main characters, Frederick and Arnaud were equally well rounded.  The dry humor Frederick showed in the many scenes with the dog in the park accompanied with the tremendous amount of sympathy he evoked with all the bad luck that befalls Frederick.  Arnaud was a seemingly repulsive character, a conniving businessman with dirty secrets, but when we saw him dealing with family problems he was full of love and tenderness.  Jacques was able to sustain energy through the whole time; employing a wonderful amount of ease while at the same time creating very different characters who each went on their own equally complete journey.

At face value a 2hr+ one-man does not seem like a practical undertaking, but what was so interesting about the construction of The Andersen Project was that ultimately it would not have worked as anything other than a one-man show.  This was due to the extreme use of technology and effects in the show.  The degree to which lights, sound, video, set and puppetry were put to use surrounded and supported Yves through the 2hrs in a way that was crucial to the structural success of the show.  In fact, it would not have been as successful if there were more bodies on stage.  The dynamic of a man in space surrounded by all these elements was an effective and clear storytelling device.  They are used in a nice balance of overwhelming and intimate ways.  In the drug infused sequence on the train the video, lights, and sound were more impressive than a lot of concerts I’ve been to.  When Arnaud, tucks his daughter in at night he tells her one of Andersen’s stories, using the bedroom lamp to illustrate his tale with shadow in a lovely, moving, fashion.  The scenes in the park were a wonderful combination of technical elements.  The huge columns dominated the space, impressing the audience and framing the sole actor in a powerful way.  At the same time, these were some of the most endearing scenes as they always featured the dog puppet on the cable across the stage, which I thought was one of the most effective uses of design.

The design and the actor functioned well with the writing of the piece to produce a meticulously layered story.  Themes slowly revealed themselves and dots were connected to present an immensely complex story.  Both Arnaud and Frederick’s lives slowly slip out of their grasp even as they attempt to wield a tighter grasp over them.  Their identities slip away from them and they get pulled into a world of darkness.  Their quests mirror that of Andersen’s as well as that of this story The Driad; we follow the big pretty lights in search of validation, but who can give that to us in a way that truly satisfies us?  In the meantime we lose our innocence and true sense of ourselves and from where we came.  I found the story and writing intellectually very stimulating but sometimes dry.  The whole piece was a very dark affair, literally and figuratively, and there was a period where I had to fight drowsiness but it picked up.  The fairy tale quality underscores the piece well but also creates a distance, I very much felt I was watching the journey not experiencing it.  I also felt there was just too much in it.  The story is very segmented, and you become more aware of the segmentation as the technology is used in different ways for each different episode.  It seems like we watch several different short plays, as a result of both the plot and the design, and try as I might I cannot for the life of me think of a reason why this piece does not have an intermission.  It does not make it easy on its audience, which on the one hand I greatly admire, but sometimes its rigid insistence that you come to it is taxing.

Something else that struck me about this particular experience of seeing The Andersen Project was seeing it in that particular space.  ArtsEmerson’s Cutler Majestic Theater is beautiful, a space anyone would love to perform in.  A little ways into the performance however, I was struck by the juxtaposition of the piece I was seeing and the style of the space.  The Andersen Project is such a distinctly modern piece, with it’s video and projection use and the contemporary electronic music the Cutler Majestic seemed like an odd venue.  It is so old, ornate, and delicate, it reminds me of some of the older Broadway houses.  It’s traditional beauty and layout reminded me of a place where one would see a classic musical, Shakespeare, or Miller.  It was odd to see such a distinctly contemporary piece with innovative conventions in a venue such as this.

Furthermore I don’t think I’ve ever seen something where I thought so much about the production execution during the performance.  For example the set pieces for the park scenes were these three massive columns that stretched up beyond the audiences view.  These pillars were moved on and off the stage often and easily however.  Same with the two big set pieces that made the peep show and were used facing the other way for the phone station.  Jacques went through his quick changes with blinding efficiency, and some of them were so dramatic you felt there had to be another actor involved.  The peep show, pillars, and screen rotated up and down the deck so smoothly you couldn’t help but be aware of the efficiency with which the production was being managed.  In the same way that although it is a one-man show but he is supported by impressive technical elements, he is also supported by an extremely capable crew that makes an incredible task seem strikingly easy.

Overall, the piece interweaves its themes clearly and succinctly; exploring the mind and message of Hans Christen Andersen’s tales through a contemporary story.  As the audience you encounter the ideas in vastly different ways over the course of the piece.  The use of technology and media does not cloud them however, but makes them very clear, and enables them to be layered over one another extensively.  I find this emphasis on story to be the most compelling element of work like LePage’s, Young Jean Lee, Tim Crouch, etc.  That while pushing the envelope of form they remain clear about and devoted to the story they set out to tell.  The other thing that really struck me about this piece, in thinking about the innovative theatre we’ve been discussing recently, was that the audience’s role was very traditional.  We sat in a dark house, not moving for 2+ hours, watching the story unfold before us on stage, yet it was completely compelling and different.  It was cool to see piece that presents itself in a dynamic new way tailored to a 21st century audience without focusing on moving the audience around or bringing them into the world.  I feel like all my thinking about this style of theatre has been limited by thoughts like “the audience HAS to move or HAS to be involved in some way.”

Circle Mirror Transformation

This afternoon, I attended a performance of Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation. It was a student-run production in the Law Auditorium, but despite the lack of a perfect set, great tech or flawless performances, the script made it a compelling show. Baker writes with a simple truthfulness that resonated with me personally because I’ve been in many classes like the one depicted in the show, but which I’m sure would also resonate with other audience members. Each character is distinct, memorable and recognizable. It could have been my neighbor, teacher and younger cousin in that class.

I think I responded to this piece so strongly because it hit so close of home–I’ve done all the exercises depicted in the show and understand very well the impact they can have on your relationships with people, and with yourself. I loved how Baker used small moments from the exercises, and exchanges during breaks, to build a clear story arch for each character. It’s a testimony to simplicity and truth in theatre.

One of the difficulties about the production that I saw, however, was that all the actors were around the same age. An element of the play was lost by not having the generational differences of the characters come into play. Though the actors did their best to express the struggles of their middle-aged characters, it was clear most were trying to stretch their personal experiences into their characters. Lauren felt like the most honest character, because an actress who is probably around 20 was going back to the age of 16.

This is often a difficulty in college (or high school–obviously the issue is more pronounced in high schools) productions. It makes me wonder whether schools, who are casting mostly from within pools of actors around the same age, should attempt plays with wide-ranges of character ages. Of course, one tried to avoid this completely, there would be very few plays to choose from. Still, this production wetted my appetite for a professional one–I wish I had been able to see it when it was at the Huntington. I think that a lot would be added to the performances if the actors were of varied ages and had a broader range of personal experiences to draw upon.

24 Hour Play Project

This weekend we had our annual Boston University 24 Hour Play Project.  The theme was ‘Ages of Humanity’ inspired by Jaques’ ‘Ages of Man’ speech from As You Like It, but made more inclusive for this day and age.  What an amazing experience!  I Organized the project and co-facilitated the day with Amber.  It was a whirlwind of e-mails, facebook messages, meetings, rehearsals, tech, coffee, lack of sleep, creativity, stress, and inspiration.  It was so worth it!!  It was an incredibly rewarding experience.  I am always amazed how performances always seem to “come together” magically at the last moment.  I believe in this magic so strongly, I have begun thanking the muses before and after each performance that I am involved in.  I really believe that they exist.  It’s either muses, or our own energy coming together to create something larger than ourselves.  or perhaps that and the muses are one in the same.  Anyway, it was not until I was sitting, watching the show that I started to realize how amazing this is!  We did this entirely for us.  I was so proud to think that everyone involved gave over their weekend to this project by either staying up and writing all night Saturday, or showing up at the CFA at 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning and staying for 14 hours to rehearse and perform.  I was moved in some way by each and every piece (and I am glad to see that some of the pieces sparked conversation, see Kate’s blog post below) and I found myself amazed that what we put together in such a short amount of time was actually quality theatre.  We are talented!!  Bold choices were made, and everyone committed fully to bringing their pieces to life. Going into my thesis it was incredibly important reminder that we as theatre artists really can make something out of nothing, and it can be great!  All we need is a concept and willing collaborators, who I feel so lucky to be surrounded by everyday!  What power.  On the way home, I felt so proud, of myself and of everyone involved.  I felt lucky to be a part of a community that can pull this thing off so effectively.  And for almost the first time after being involved in a performance, I didn’t feel like I needed validation from others.  Witnessing the performance was reward enough for the hard work I put in.  What a learning experience as a theatre artist!  We can do anything we put our energies into!

An Illiad at the New York Theatre Workshop

This Spring Break, I fortunately purchased the last ticket to a Wednesday night performance of An Illiad produced by the New York Theatre Workshop.  The production was created by Denis O’Hare, an actor you may recognize from HBO’s TrueBlood and director Lisa Peterson.  It is a one man show, performed on alternate nights by O’Hare and actor Steven Spinella, who won two Tony’s for his performance in the original Broadway production of Angels in America.  I had the pleasure of seeing Stephen Spinella play “the Poet,” and he orates a contemporary adaptation of Homer’s Illiad in 100 minutes.

What moved me most in this production was the text’s ability to relate the Trojan War to almost all other wars fought since.  The Poet spoke in plain words, using several verbal pauses for  example, to tell an ancient story still rooted in our present.  Heightened language and classical Greek were used sparingly and specifically, especially during conversations between the Poet and the music of a Cello, who the Poet refers to as his muses.

Although I was entertained by this production and enjoyed Spinella’s performance, I left the theatre unmoved.   Of course, this is only my personal response to the piece and the performance I witnessed, but I wonder what, on a technical level, was not sitting well with me.  I have a few thoughts on this matter:

1. Something about the pacing was predictable in its unpredictability.  The play began with a hard sound and a flash of light, and after that point, grew quieter.  Fifteen minutes later, another big sound and an explosion of action!  Then more quiet.  Ten minutes later, an explosion…and so on and so forth.  Something about this constant wave of explosions into quietness didn’t sit well with me because the surprise of the explosion wore off and became predictable; however, I wonder if there’s something about this pacing that relates to the pacing of war.  The Poet does discuss a lot of waiting and intimate, quiet moments of connection…

2. I had a question about the nature of the theatre space.  In short, the NYTW Theatre Space felt large.  Although the actor played to the back row and had an affinity for working with the space, I wonder how this piece would have landed on audiences were it performed in a smaller space.  Since this is a play that deals with storytelling in the modern age, I feel that it is imperative to have a real connection between the audience and poet so the story is fully heard.  Although most of the people in the audience were middle-aged and seniors, how must we construct theatrical experiences to connect with generations of Americans who are used to watching TV?  Being in the large audience seating, some of the intimacy of the storytelling was lost and words had less of an ability to travel to our hearts.  I understand that Greek Theatre was performed in Amphitheaters, but I personally wonder how we can be more in touch with the audience viewing circumstances today.

I question if this play was just not my taste and maybe it was the lack of visuals and the constancy of one actor; however, I have to ask myself if there was anything that I would do differently if I were an artist working on this piece?

Here is a NY Times review of An Illiad.

Tampons, Prostitutes and a Pregnancy Scare

Sunday night I had the pleasure of watching the 24 hour play project, which was really quite fantastic and inspiring.  That being said, I did find it very interesting that within the first three ten minute plays, a vast majority of the characters were female (as picked out of a hat), and contained nearly every female stereotype I could think of.  The first show was about a girl who decided to get pregnant because she was bored, the second play contained four prostitutes, and the third was about two middle school girls in a bathroom dealing with what else- boys, makeup, and periods.  I want to be very clear that I do not mean to pass judgement on the value or comedic choices of these plays.  I was laughing as hard as the next person, and some of these writers are friends and people I truly respect as artists.  And I think if these plays were seen on their own, or even simply not one right after the other, I wouldn’t have had such a visceral reaction, but the fact is that 3 male writers wrote those three plays that were shown one right after the other… and it got me to thinking.  Actually, it lead to a very interesting conversation that I had with my roommates (we happen to be four female actors and a female director/screenwriter) in which one of them brought up an interesting statistic (that unfortunately I could not find to back up, but it’s the idea that I’m trying to get at) that only 15% of the time on screen is a female actor not speaking to or about a male.  So that means that even when we’re not talking to a man, we have to be talking about men.  Now, I don’t think women should never talk about men on screen, obviously that’s something that we actually do!  But we also talk about a whole lot of other things… and it would be great if television and film could reflect that more truthfully.

But the thing is- I don’t think it’s as easy as pinning our problems on chauvinistic men- women perpetuate these stereotypes too.  There’s this idea that if a movie is about a man, it’s universal, where if the main character is a woman, often it’s classified as a chick flick or romcom and is automatically something less… The problem is that I think women often also subscribe to this idea… I’m even finding this annoying tendancy within myself.  My thesis is written by a female writer and features the story of a 25 year old woman and I’ve found myself worrying about male audience members- worrying that they will dismiss it as something less because it is a story about a woman.  I’m annoyed that I even have those doubts.

Anyways, this wasn’t the most succinct or articulate blog post but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about, and I know other people have been thinking about, and I think it’s something that’s important to cultivate conversation around.

Radical Hospitality

After Ilana mentioned in class that Mixed Blood Theatre Company (located in Minneapolis) doesn’t charge for their tickets I was very intrigued.  That’s amazing!!!  Free theatre!!  That’s what I feel is necessary, that will make theatre no longer elite, but a tool of the people once again! Huzzah!  So I did some more research to see how this could be sustained.  In our capitalistic country, something can survive without charging??  Amazing.  And I found at the heart of their plan for sustainability of this initiative exactly what I was hoping for: Giving.

From the Mixed Blood website: http://www.mixedblood.com/radical-hospitality:

“By revolutionizing access, Mixed Blood believes audiences will grow to be truly inclusive and reflective of the entire community. With that growth, Mixed Blood believes that audiences and supporters will embrace the egalitarian core value of the company, providing support in return. Simply put, instead of charging for tickets, audiences will be asked, subsequent to attendance, to voluntarily become supporters of a vision that ensures access for all…”

This theatre company trusts that human beings are good at heart.  That we are communal creatures who want to support each other, who value diversity, who care about the arts and who know that theatre is vital.  Mixed blood trusts that if you give, you will be given to.  It is operating on a giving ideology rather than a taking one, and this truly is radical in our society today.  Which brings me to the name.  Radical Hospitality. That is so cool!!  Often I feel that in order to be radical one must be loud, big, and rebelling against something.  I suppose Radical Hospitality is rebelling against charging for tickets, but it is creating something positive in response.  It is being the change it wishes to see, not just speaking out against something.  I think being Radically open, radically hospitable, radically kind is amazing because it is using positivity as an assertive tool. It is showing that giving is more powerful than taking.  It is showing that kindness can be just as strong and insistent of a tool as violence.

Radical Hospitality trusts the community it creates.  And it is completely non discriminatory.  It is truly egalitarian as everyone can get free tickets regardless of socio-economic position.  This is not charity to the poor, but a vision and fostering of a new reality.  I want to carry this spirit of creating change with revolutionary, radical acts of generosity with me into my last months at BU and beyond into my professional life!

From Mike Daisey

I really never re-post wholesale blog entries from other sites, but this is important. You should read what Mike has had to say yesterday after a week which, I can only imagine, was fairly hellish. I post it here because I think what it shows is that earnestness, honesty, and heartfelt apology are such powerful choices. In the theatre, we usually don’t see our mistakes played out on the kind of national media stage that Mike has. The stakes for him have been really high. I urge you to learn from this and see what he’s doing to try to put it right. For you, your own inevitable mistakes and missteps — may you not go through what Mike did, but may you find the courage to be honest about it as he has.

From mikedaisey.blogspot.com

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Here is an excerpt from an interview I gave to Seattle radio host Luke Burbank about a year ago:

Burbank: “How do you reconcile telling a good story with also trying to get the facts right and when do you decide what is the more important goal?”

Daisey: “Oh, well you know what I’ve found over the years is that the facts are your friends, like if there’s ever a case where I’m telling the story and I find the facts are inconvenient, 9 times out of 10 it means I haven’t thought about the story deeply enough. I really believe in this because the world is more complex and more interesting than my imagination. So the world is full of really fascinating things. You have so many tools on stage as a storyteller. Like, any time you want something to happen, you don’t have to pretend it happened and lie, you can use a flight of fancy, you can say, ‘I imagine what this must look like.’ You can say anything and you can go in whatever direction you need to go, but be clear with the audience, but be clear with the audience that at one moment you’re reporting the truth as literally it happened, and another case you’re using hyperbole, and you just have to be really clear about when you’re using each tool. No, for me it’s not actually that hard if—and this is a big if—if you’re pretty scrupulous about not believing you know the story before you see it.”

Thanks to Chris Hayes for finding this exchange. I’m putting it out here because I think it very succinctly sums up the rules I have for myself about how I create my monologues, and in so doing, I think it also makes clear where I fell short in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.

When I said onstage that I had personally experienced things I in fact did not, I failed to honor the contract I’d established with my audiences over many years and many shows. In doing so, I not only violated their trust, I also made worse art.

This is not the place for me to try and explain my good intentions. We all know where the road paved with good intentions leads. In fact, I think it might lead to where I’m sitting right now.

I had an acting teacher, years ago, who always taught that the calling of an artist is to be humble before the work. He knew, I think, how easy it can be to lose one’s way.

I listened to a podcast of the discussion some of my colleagues had a few nights ago discussing “Truth in Theater”—and what a thing it was not to be there, to have been asked not to come, and what a strange feeling to know that it was my trespasses that had made the conversation necessary in the first place.

But also, what a gift: to just be able to sit and listen, and to hear these people I so respect discuss these issues with intelligence and humor, and to hear the civility they extended my way even when they took serious issue with some of the choices I have made.

It made me reflect upon how lucky I have been to call the theater my home all these years, the only place I can imagine this kind of discourse happening. It made me grateful for the great privilege it has been to be able to call myself a storyteller and to have audiences come and listen to what I have to say, to extend their trust to me. I am sorry I was careless with that trust. For this, I would like to apologize to my audiences.

And I would like to apologize to my colleagues in the theater, especially those who work in non-fiction and documentary fields. What you do is essential to our civic discourse. If I have made your path more difficult, or the truth of your work harder for audiences to discern, I am sorry.

I would also like to apologize to the journalists I gave interviews to in which I exaggerated my own experiences. In my drive to tell this story and have it be heard, I lost my grounding. Things came out of my mouth that just weren’t true, and over time, I couldn’t even hear the difference myself.

To human rights advocates and those who have been doing the hard work of bringing attention to these kinds of labor issues for years, if my failures have made your jobs harder, I apologize. If I had done my job properly, with the skills I have honed for years, I could have avoided this. Instead, I blinded myself, and lost sight of the people I wanted most to help.

I use the word “truth” a lot in my work. These words from the opening scene of How Theater Failed America come to mind:

Some of you are hoping tonight that the rarest of things will happen: that someone is actually going to tell the truth.

That’s rare. That’s hen’s teeth.

You should know better.

And so should I. Because that’s what I’m looking for—every time I come back to this place, and all the places like it. Looking for the truth: that rare, random descent, like a feather across the back of your hand.

I speak about truth because it is what I aspire to. All my stories, even when I’ve fallen short, have been attempts to experience the truth with my audiences.

I am sorry for where I have failed. I will look closer, be more patient, and listen more clearly.

I will be humble before the work.

Boxes

Today I participated in The Box Project. It was a project that is part of a University wide initiative to have students from other schools get to know each other and collaborate.

Last night we were split up into teams, given a box with a ton of stuff in it, a theme, and told to create a video using the things we were given as inspiration. Today we worked from 10am-4pm to create the project.

I was in a group with a painter/sculptor, a graphic designer, and a musician/singer. It was pretty amazing how we worked together in a medium none of us is familiar with, and actually created a fully formed film. It was a really fun day of collaboration and creativity.

After watching everyone’s final product we talked about how incredible the immediacy of film is. We spent less than 24 hours creating a piece of art that can be easily seen and distributed to millions of people via youtube, email, etc.

Jim Petosa came to the showing of the films and, of course, had some really interesting things to say. And since I think a good quote from Jim is always fun, I wanted to share this one with you.

I will paraphrase, as I could never be as eloquent as Jim via blog post.

He said that the universe sometimes gives us boxes and we have to figure out what to do with it. And that right now the universe is dealing with the box of Trayvon Martin, and how are we, as artists supposed to unpack this very delicate and complicated box? What is our responsibility as artists to this box?

I don’t really have an answer to this question. I just thought it was an interesting question, and a really interesting way to think about life and art.

But today made me think about how quickly a message can be sent out, and how if we have opinions and stories to share (as most of us do), we have to take advantage of this venue.

Reflections After a Workshop with Betty Buckley

This past week, a few individuals in the School of Theatre and the Opera Institute were invited to participate in a musical theatre workshop with Betty Buckley.  Many musical theatre enthusiasts will recognize that Betty Buckley originated the role of Grisabella in the Broadway production of Cats and is famous for singing “Memory.”  For more information about her, check out imdb and broadwayworld.com profiles.

One might think that since this was a musical theatre workshop with a broadway veteran, the workshop would be glamorous, full of fluff and sequins; however, this four night workshop was a life-changing, spiritual experience.  We were asked to approach the work with an open mind and open heart in order to truly be with each other and ourselves without judgement.  We were guided through several meditations and we didn’t eve sing until the second night!

Without giving a synopsis of the workshop, I want to share some of the most valuable lessons I learned from the Betty Buckley.

1. Self pity is never a choice.

2. Always approach acting and life from the positive.

3. Listen to your inner child and speak to yourself the way you would speak to that child.

4. Everyone knows the truth.

Having learned these concepts, I feel that something has changed for me in my day-to-day experiences as an actor, artist and human being.  These are incredibly useful points of focus that I am beginning to employ in my life.  Along with a regimented meditation practice, the greatest gift the workshop gave me is an opportunity to ask myself how I can listen more carefully to my heart.  This feels especially important because as I approach the end of senior year, I have some bigger choices I need to begin to make.  Having done the Betty Buckley workshop, I feel as though I’m in a better place to focus and listen to the world around me.