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(Why am I naming days?)

7/26/14, Day 13,962: Will Farewell and Maddie & Liam at the Playground

Not my most creative day naming, but accurate: Heather and I spent a beautiful afternoon at the Russell Sage playground with our friends Will and Liz and their amazing twins, Maddie and Liam, who are both basically five-year old geniuses with the sweetest hearts.

We then attended the Denial-That-Will-Lowry-Is-Leaving-Party, which featured an absurd amount of people that we love. Basically, I just pretended that we were all there to celebrate Will’s birthday, and not his departure.

I also began to catch up (just a little) on all of that anxiety-ridden-stuff I wrote about yesterday…but there is still a long way to go for me to feel at ease.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 112 out of 131 days
Spanish: 99 out of 131 days
Music: 13 out of 36 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to take violence against women committed by NFL players seriously;
  • Had a great conversation with Mark Valdez about an exciting new Network of Ensemble Theaters initiative–stay tuned for that!;
  • Asked the FDA to ensure that women are always included in drug health tests instead of assuming that if it works on men, it will work on women;
  • Ate vegetarian, and added no additional food-related waste;
  • Asked the Social Security Administration not to shut down any more offices;

(Why am I naming days?)

The past week I’ve been truant here because of a cumulative exhaustion of various concerns that have sapped my will power. I’ve been feeling as if I’ll never catch up on my TCG work, like I’m trapped in smaller projects and backlogged emails so that I can’t think clearly about the big projects I need to move forward before I go on paternity leave. And then, there’s the paternity leave: there’s still so much to do to get ready for Sesi. Flux has an amazing energy coming out of the Retreat, but already we’re falling behind on some of our key initiatives. I’m way behind on my work as a NET board member. And I can’t stop reading about the violence in Israel and Palestine, the advance of ISIS, the madness in the Ukraine, the troubled elections in Afghanistan; I’m devoting more time than I probably should to reading any article I can about these various crises, though it seems there is so little I can do to help (and so much I don’t understand).

So here we go, trying to get back on track.

7/22/14, Day, 13, 958: Faust on the Phone with Marielle

This day is so named for the great phone convo Faust director Marielle and I had about the play. We read through the whole play together–adapting Liz Duffy Adam’s strategy of reading through the play for her directors–and stopped at each moment we had a question or idea. The hope is that we’ll arrive in the rehearsal room on the same page. The rewrites have been slow-going because of the iambic pentameter, but everyday I get a little closer to complete. For whatever reason, this upcoming production feels like the least stressful thing in my life: a little reservoir of art-making amid all the gogogo…

7/23/14, Day 13,959: I’m Breaking Up

This day is so named for Emily Conbere’s post on the TCG Circle about balancing theatre with becoming a new parent. As you might imagine, this one landed a little more deeply than most.

7/24/14, Day 13, 960: This is the Work

This day is so named for the TCG-staff discussion about some of the Diversity & Inclusion-related decisions and subsequent controversies that occurred at the San Diego Conference. It was an opportunity for the Conference team to share more context about how certain decisions were reached, and to listen to the impact those decisions had on staff, for good and sometimes ill. It wasn’t an easy conversation, but it was sincere and necessary. This day was the height of my emotional exhaustion, but I came down at home with a lovely pregnancy photo session shot by dear friend Isaiah.

7/25/14, Day 13,961: Eggplant Parmesan on the Terrace

This day is so named because it ended with a beautiful meal cooked by Heather on our terrace. A lot of my anxiety from the past week (read: year) began to dissipate. It began with me skipping writing for the first time this week because I needed to read everything I could about Israel/Palestine, but I’m so grateful it ended with a far more local, loving experience.

In short, I don’t know why this was such a tricky week for me, but I’m hoping to rally over the weekend and get back on track.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 112 out of 130 days (Faust)
Spanish: 98 out of 130 days
Music: 12 out of 35 days

I refuse to give up on music practice being a part of this list, even though I should…

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Signed up for the 9/21 People’s Climate March and shared the info;
  • Asked the National Marine Fisheries Service to reject Exxon’s request for Incidental Harassment Authorization in the Santa Barbara channel;
  • Shared the good news of Meriam Yeha Ibrahim’s release;
  • Signed a petition in support of public hearings about net neutrality;
  • Ate vegetarian;
  • Had several difficult, honest conversations about equity as it relates to the theatre field and continued moving specific TCG equity-realted programming forward.

Cino’s Ring

(Why am I naming days?)

7/21/14, Day, 13, 957: Cino’s Ring

This day is so named for the 2014 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, which I blogged about for Flux over here. Most of my thoughts on the night are there, but on a more personal note, I’ve been noticing a growing divide between my attitude towards awards and reviews as a producer versus as an artist. As a producer, I love their capacity to shine a light on good work; but as an artist…

In the past, I tried to deal with the pain of bad reviews by directly engaging with them, responding to both good and bad over on the Flux blog. While some folks responded positively to those actions, it took way too much out of me as an artist to be sustainable. I internalized the bad reviews far more deeply because they confirmed my worst suspicions: that I’m no good at any of this, and that I’m wasting people’s time. While I recognize those feelings as childish and selfish, that recognition doesn’t dull the pain, and the pain had grown over time to such a degree that it had become difficult for me to enjoy any process (which is crazy, because what’s more fun than making theatre?)

I’ve written here about the ways in which I’ve pulled myself out of that, but as with all progress, it’s easy to slip back, and award ceremonies are treacherously slippery. So while as a producer, I celebrate awards and reviews; as an artist, I see them as a drug that leads me to value things that don’t actually make me happy. It helps to know I’m not alone in this odd dance that artists (and especially artist/producers) do.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 109 out of 126 days (Faust)
Spanish: 97 out of 126 days
Music: 12 out of 31 days

I am not counting the days that I was on vacation, though I did write during that time period.

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Asked the Obama administration to resolve the water crisis in Detroit;
  • Signed a petition for companies to pull out from activities that contribute to the oppression of the Palestinian people;
  • Cooked local/CSA/organic vegetarian food and added no direct waste;
  • As the trial or her killer begins, I shared this image in support for justice for Renisha McBride.
  • For TCG, participated in a great discussion about next steps for the Diversity & Inclusion Initiative.

(Why am I naming days?)

7/15/14, Day, 13, 951: Peacebuilding and VishMish

“What we attempt to do is to create more people that think like we do, and I think the difficult work of peace-building is to create a quality of relationships among people who don’t think alike. And that’s precisely what I think is so distressful for a lot of folks right now in terms of the American scene…[we have] very little capacity to be in significant and quality relationships with people who think very differently.”
-John Paul Lederach, “The Art Of Peace,” On Being

This day is so named for a fascinating conversation with peacebuilder and poet John Paul Lederach on “The Art of Peace” for the podcast series, One Being. I’m always on the lookout for potential speakers for the TCG Conference, and there’s a vibrant peacebuilding movement in theatre; happily, his conversation also really spoke to the Vision/Mission work (VishMish, for short) that Flux is going through right now.

We met last night for our bi-weekly meeting, and spent an hour plus continuing the conversations from our Retreat. I thought of the Lederach talk throughout that process, including this passage on paradoxical curiosity:

“Ms. Tippett: Yeah. You use the term ‘paradoxical curiosity.’

Mr. Lederach: Yeah. Paradoxical in the sense that paradox is not contradiction — it’s two things or three things or four things that are different but ultimately are tied to each other in a form. And that’s actually the genius of complexity, is that while it can feel overwhelming when we’re in the middle of it, it keeps offering up new ways to understand something that doesn’t require you to choose one option against another.”

This reminds me of what author Leslie Jamison calls “the rigorous grace of complication,” and of the Oliver Wendell Holmes’ quote:

“I would not give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

This is something that really resonates with us: moving through simplistic narratives and oppositional binaries into the heart of complexity and seeming contradiction; and through imaginative empathy and paradoxical curiosity, discover at unexpected connections and creative fusion.

It’s an exciting conversation, but a long one, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep it going as we return to the thick of things.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 108 out of 125 days (Faust)
Spanish: 96 out of 125 days
Music: 11 out of 30 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

 

Dia the Doula

(Why am I naming days?)

7/14/14, Day, 13, 950: Dia the Doula

This day is so named because Heather and I had a long meeting with our doula, whose name is indeed the alliteratively assonant Dia (learn more about her here). She’s smart and has a great energy, and our conversation was really valuable. Every day, we’re taking steps to prepare for the birth and what comes after. What will happen to this daily-ish diary once our Sesi is born? Reader, I do not know.

After that meeting and a long day at TCG, I lay outside on the terrace as the rain fell inches away from me. I remembered the knock of the rain on my skylight in my room growing up, the drum of it in my studio on Martha’s Vineyard, the ping of it on the corrugated roof of Little Pond, and above all, the sound of rain and ocean together from Sandy Neck, that great calling of deep things and all I needed to do was flip a switch in my mind, slip out the window and become a thing aquatic…

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 107 out of 124 days (Faust)
Spanish: 95 out of 124 days
Music: 11 out of 29 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

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(Why am I naming days?)

7/13/14, Day, 13, 949: Oh My Sweet Angel

This day is so named because we workshopped through the end of Faust yesterday, including the denouement between Rachael and Nat’s characters. It ends as many of my plays do, with a scene that expands into more the one dimension, but it does so more simply, more quietly than I think I’ve accomplished before. As played beautifully yesterday by Nat and Rachael, the universe seems for a moment to be contained entirely by the space between them.

And I realized that one of things that this play’s about is not the heightened moments of dramatic conflict (though there are plenty of those) but the moments after, when the characters find a way to pick each other up, dust themselves off and return to the work. I’m finding that very satisfying right now; this is the play I need to be working on.

And there’s plenty of work! The play-within-the-play is written in blank verse, and it’s been some time since I’ve worked in such a sustained way in that form. I’ll be spending most of my writing time over the next week and a half trying to make the iams dance so that our very limited rehearsal time won’t be spent dealing with too many rewrites.

I spent much of the evening cleaning and cooking, and then working on Flux’s (possibly revised) mission statement and new vision statement. The challenge I’m having with both is to be honest about the size of our ambitions without becoming too general and lofty…we have a meeting this Tuesday, and hopefully we’ll come a little closer to consensus.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 106 out of 123 days (Faust)
Spanish: 94 out of 123 days
Music: 10 out of 28 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Signed a petition imploring James Madison University to treat sexual assault as a crime;
  • Sent a personalized letter to FCC Chair Wheeler in support of net neutrality;
  • Shared “The Children of the Drug Wars,” a great Times piece that explicates why the children from Central America are a refugee crisis, not an immigration crisis;
  • Ate vegetarian;
  • Asked John Boehner not to use my tax dollars to sue the President.

(Why am I naming days?)

7/11/14, Day, 13, 947: Playland at the Rockaways

This day is so named because I ended it with a long journey out to Playland at the Rockaways to celebrate the birth of a dear friend. At the hotel bar, I watched a 5-year old boy b-boy like a champ, and an older woman come in off the streets to dance for each of the tables (not for money, just for the joy of the dance). The bar made you feel as if the next time you exited, you’d discover the Rockaways had slipped many leagues into the sea and you were bound for the ends of the earth…

We walked to the beach under the Super Moon and talked about flying as JFK planes made their impossible, slow arcs above us. I shared stories of growing up on Sandy Neck before taking the long bus home.

7/12/14, Day, 13, 948: Monkey Queens and Perfect Moments

This day is so named for our Faust  workshop, the first in a long while. We tackled the odd Monkey Queen scene (perhaps the scene that hews the closest to Goethe’s), and then the big fall-out scene, where the ensemble almost falls apart but doesn’t, quite. A key member of team seems ready to leave, and what felt too long in rehearsal held our attention because of the constant physicalized threat of her departure (it still needs to be shorter). I’m still uncertain as to whether the whole mad gambit of the play coheres, but the individual scenes are working well, and the actors are doing lovely work.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 105 out of 122 days (rewrites for Angel Juice, Faust)
Spanish: 93 out of 122 days
Music: 9 out of 27 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

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