Arts Advocacy Day: What is Life without Arts?

Performing

Picture a world with no arts in it. Nothing would decorate our walls. No music would fill the void. We wouldn’t be able to share stories or understand and empathize with anything beyond our immediate understanding. Life, as we know it, would not exist.

I wonder if the people who argue to de-fund the arts, really understand the intimate connection between the arts and what makes us human?

Of course, even without the arts we would have access to the beauty painted by the greatest artist of all, Mother Nature.

Photo By Steve Kramer http://taochild.wordpress.com/

Photo By Steve Kramer http://taochild.wordpress.com/

But without the arts, would we be able to express our understanding of that beauty? Would we even understand what it means? Or would our lack of understanding lead to an environment that looks only like this:

Of course, some people might find beauty in this image, and the creation of these machines themselves required the development of creative minds.

Minds become creative through exposure to the arts.

If  arts didn’t play such a vital role  in the development of humanity, then why has it existed in so many forms throughout the history of human kind?

20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings: Mammoth

20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings: Mammoth (Photo credit: Carla216)

Why have things like theatre, dance, and storytelling developed in culture after culture even when travel and communication across distances didn’t happen at the blink of an eye?

The arts play a vital role  in encouraging us to think, to create, to question. The first image on this page comes from a student in my after school literacy through drama program, called “In Our Own Voices.” He is from Cambodia, and is perhaps the most recent immigrant in that group, with some of the biggest language challenges. Yet each week he grows in confidence as he speaks and reads. He expresses himself through written words and through drawing. The arts have helped him grow as a student, and celebrate his own life.

In an  article entitled “10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2013”  Randy Cohen writes about all the practical reasons why arts are important, including improved grades and economic growth. He then asks for our reason #11.

Reason #11: Art is life. Life is art.

Do you think the arts are valuable? Why?

 

I am Not Your Mother

Dear Students,

I am an under-payed adjunct faculty person teaching introductory courses in theatre, courses that you take to fulfill your arts requirement.

Although I am not a full-time faculty person, I am still an experienced and well-trained professional. I hold an MFA in directing and have directed numerous successful and well-received shows. I also hold a Ph.D in theatre with a specialty in Theatre for Youth, which means I’ve read, researched and written on a wide range of subjects. In addition to teaching Introductory courses, I’ve taught advanced level courses in Non-Western Theatre, Theatre for Young Audiences, Feminist Theatre, Studies in Drama, Theatre for Social Change, Puppetry, and Theatre History among others. I’ve also, which is unusual for many professors who specialize in one field, taught Intro and advanced level courses in Writing, Research Writing, Honors and Education. In other words, I am a well-rounded, experienced teacher.

The Day I received my doctorate.

The Day I received my doctorate.

My job, as I see it, is to:

  • create a course that lasts the entire semester
  • develop a syllabus that outlines this course (I spend hours on this, and try my best to stick to it).
  • prepare for lectures and or course presentations for each class, as necessary
  • create interesting assignments that reinforce or support the learning goals of the course, and explain my expectations for those assignments
  • grade assignments in a timely fashion
  • answer your questions or meet with you when you have problems
  • keep tabs of your attendance and participation
  • lead class discussions
  • answer your e-mails
  • turn in grade reports and other official documents required by the school, in a timely fashion

In addition, as a concerned teacher in an arts discipline who likes to challenge her students and explore new ways of teaching, I try to:

  • create interesting assignments that ask my students to think creatively
  • create assignments that allow for students to use their strengths. While I believe it is important to have written assignments, I try to provide assignments that will allow people to use presentation or art skills as well.
  • since this is a theatre class, provide opportunities to make presentations, act, and/or try some of the other skills required in the world of theatre.
  • avoid doing things like testing memorized facts, but rather ask my students to think about how what they are learning in my class might relate to their lives or the real world.

Nowhere in those lists does it say that I am supposed to be your Mother.

As one of the assignments for this class, I asked you to attend a performance of a production put on by your peers at the college, and write a review of this. I selected this production because it was less expensive than attending professional theatre, especially with your student discount, and it was on campus, so you shouldn’t have had any difficulty finding it or finding parking. I told you about this assignment on THE FIRST DAY of class, and reminded you as it approached.

“Where is it?”

“How much does it cost?”

“Where do I find tickets?”

“When is it?”

These questions dominated the classroom for several weeks. I did my best to answer them, repeatedly.

Then, this past weekend, mother nature threatened us with another storm that (upon initial reports) could have been of epic proportions. It fizzled out to be a cold, slimy, mixture of rain and snow that didn’t do much except create an incredible wonderland this morning.

DSCN1859

However, to be cautious, since I thought the shows might be cancelled, I came up with two alternative options of other shows that would happen on campus later this semester. I sent that information out to you. Some of you, it seems, have chosen to pursue those options instead, and I can’t penalize you for that. But, that’s not what this letter is about.

It’s about the fact that I am not your Mother.

After I sent the e-mail with the options I got numerous e-mails asking things like:

“How do I know if the show is cancelled?”

You all walk around with these fancy pieces of technology that have the power of accessing the internet to look things up, and–even more amazing– can enable you to talk to other people and find out information. If you wished, you could pick up these amazing pieces of technology to either look on the school website to see if anything has been cancelled, or call the box office for news. This is how I would find out myself, so why must I do it for you?

Because you want me to be your Mother.

Dear, dear students. You are adults, or on the verge of being adults. It is your decision if you want to come to class and be there on time, although class participation does affect your grade. It is your decision whether or not you do the reading, although I often do check-ins on the reading which is part of your grade. It is your decision whether or not you want to do the research and preparation required for your group projects. I am willing to help you with suggestions, but I cannot do it for you. On the creative projects, where I ask you to make design choices and present things to the class, I specifically created them to allow for all types of presentations. I have given you the guidelines, but I refuse to give you line by line instructions. If you are not willing to break out of your comfort zone, and want me to spoon feed you all the information and details as to how to approach a project, then you are in the wrong class.

I am not responsible for your inability to organize your schedule around my class. I don’t ask for much, just that you come to class. I know that this assignment was outside of class hours, but I gave you plenty of notice (approximately 6 weeks) so there should be no reason you can’t arrange your work/play/ or whatever schedule around seeing one show.

When you miss class, I am not responsible for making sure you know what you’ve missed. I’m not responsible for sending you the handouts and making sure you know what assignment is coming up. I’m happy to send that material to you, or make it available on-line (where you can find most of it already), if you contact me about your absence, but you must initiate the contact. If you have been absent for a long time (because of illness or something else major), and expect to turn in all of your assignments, it would help if you contact me before you’ve missed the classes, not after you got back.

I’m not an ogre. I’ll work with you and help if you have situations, but I’m not your Mother. I’m not going to just allow you to do things on your own time because I feel sorry for you. You need to show some initiative, take responsibility, and acknowledge that my time is as valuable as yours. I am not at your beck and call 24 hours a day. I am not responsible for taking care of your issues the moment you have them. While I check my e-mail often, I don’t have a phone that notifies me every time someone wants to send me something. Nor do I want one. I actually have a life outside of this job, and I try to keep that time separate from the time I work.

Even though work often bleeds over and my paycheck gets smaller and smaller.

I am indeed a Mother. Yet, I try to teach my daughter some responsibility and initiative. This past weekend, we went on a family outing to a winter festival at the nearby botanical gardens. “Bring your snow gear,” I said to my daughter. “We will be outside.”

She brought them, and then left them in the car. “I didn’t think I needed to carry them,” she said.

“I don’t tell you to bring things just because I want to tell you to do something,” I said. “You can go back to the car and get them, or you can do without.”

She did without. Should I feel bad? No. She made her choice, and she suffered the cold-handed consequences. She still got to pet an alpaca, however, which I think is pretty cool.

DSCN1848

I humbly request that you recognize that there is a difference between an Instructor and a Mother, and act accordingly.  Actually, I hope that you show more respect to your mother than you currently do to me.

Sincerely,

Dr. Kramer

I Miss Making Magic

I found myself sitting in the theater earlier, watching the bustle on stage–the carpenters added some finishing touches, the electricians fixed lights and added practicals, the props person decorated the set–and I found tears building behind my eyes and sneaking a trail down my cheeks.

A scene from GETTING OUT, a play I directed years ago when the magic was strong.

I miss making the magic of theatre. I have always loved tech. I love watching the disparate elements of a show, with all the work behind them, coming together to make the magical whole that the audience sees. But lately, between politics and lack of support the competition and the frustration, I’ve lost some of that joy. I miss working on a challenging project and creating a supportive company of cast and technicians who all feel the joy and the love of the work.

The opening scene of CLOUD 9, another play I loved directing, especially because it pushed buttons and promoted discussion.

I am surrounded by people doing that right now, but I am disconnected and so the sadness builds.

I yearn for a project that I truly believe in, and for the feeling of creating something that has meaning and touches audience and participants in some way.

Not a performance, but a powerful moment of theatre and connection, with me leading activities with the Roma.

As confused as I have been lately, my tears today have shown me that I am not yet done with theatre, I just have to find a new way to make it my home.

In Search of Her Story

I mentioned a few days ago that I had signed up for a class to try to help me get toward my goals of writing a novel. The course has started, and for my first assignment I am supposed to suggest two ideas for what I would like to write. Suddenly, despite the hundreds of ideas that have poured around me at different times in my life, I am drawing a blank. This is it. This is real. I must now make a commitment, and if I ever really want to write fiction I must make some choices. I woke up in a panic, still no closer to a clear idea. But then, I realized, the Storyteller plays a role in this. I may not know the Story, yet, but I am the Storyteller, or at least I am her apprentice. I sat down and began to write this:

The young woman, Leahannah,  wandered through the rows of light, cultivated trees at the edge of the clearing. She never stepped over the line into the dimness of the forest  abutting this protected grove, for despite everything she had learned from the Storyteller, she still had fear of the Others. Those fears, ingrained in her since childhood, sometimes interfered with her learning and growth as she tried to master the skills of the Storyteller.

Leahannah felt like she was disappointing the Storyteller by not letting go of these fears.

She wandered closer to the line between darkness and light, peering into the depths of the trees. She kept seeing eyes peeking back at her from the crevices of trees or under bushes. Were they real or imagined? Were the eyes from human animals, the Others, or real animals on the hunt?

A chill went up her spine. Not one of fear, but of realization. She still thought of the Others as animal, and that would never do. If she wanted to someday step into the role of storyteller, she needed to overcome her ingrained fears and recognize the truth. A surprising tear formed in her eye at the thought of losing the Storyteller, for the old woman had saved Leahannah by making her the storytelling apprentice. Without her, Leahannah would still be doing drudge work and living on scraps, little better than the Others people hated so much.

But the Storyteller was old and had been for a long time. Each day, each time the Storyteller used the magic to tell stories, Leahannah noticed she got slower, and seemed to  fade into the glow of the magic never fully coming back to solidity. The Storyteller was becoming the magic. It did not look painful, and in some ways it seemed Storyteller embraced the change–as if becoming the magic was the final transition necessary to fulfill her purpose in life.  The transition would carry her stories on into forever.

That couldn’t happen, however, unless Leahannah was ready to become the next Storyteller. She couldn’t do that until she passed the next trial; the sharing of Her story, a story that spoke from her very soul and from the heart of the magic. It couldn’t be a story told before. It couldn’t be a simple story. It had to be a story that drew the listeners in and shared important messages without them even knowing it. It had to be full of magic, but the magic that comes from Leahannah’s being, not magic borrowed from the Storyteller.

Leahannah sighed. This was her struggle. Where was she to find that story? She could tell stories of the village, but those would not work. The villagers did not want to hear about themselves, at least not in a recognizable way. She could tell a story of the gods, but those were not new. Where could she find Her story? The story that she needed to tell.

Leahannah heard something in the dark woods behind her. A crackle of leaves, perhaps, maybe a bird or a whisper of wind through the trees. She peered into the darkness and felt her heart grow, a spark of magic building. Suddenly she knew, she would find Her story in the darkness. She would find her story with the Others.

She began.

Bizarre Twists of Fate

“Fate, or some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me, for no good reason at all.” (Martin Goldsmith)

The Tree Fates by Steve Hook

Fate twists  a strand of curly blond hair around her finger and laughs a wicked little giggle.

“Sisters,” she says. “It is time to push buttons for our favorite playthings. They have become a little complacent, and need to be nudged. ”

“But not delicately,” the red-headed sister adds.  “Let us shove rather than nudge. It is so much fun to watch them squirm as we throw the unexpected in their way.”

“Let’s do it!” The raven-haired sister calls out and begins to dance.

All three sisters spin and twirl, moving slowly at first. Then the dance gains speed and power, sending electrical sparks into the air, scattering like fireflies in a passionate ballet.

One spark flies all the way to a shabby little home filled with the memories of an old woman who no longer has control of her thoughts. Her granddaughter sorts through the detritus of years; collectibles and letters, pictures and albums, wishes and dreams. She plans to store some, give some to other family members, donate some, and sell what she can to help defray the costs of her grandmother’s care. Once the house is cleared out, she plans to rent it to some new friends to help them achieve some goals and make their life a little less stressful.

But the eyes of fate are on these friends, and the dance has begun.

The mysterious spark flies faster and sneaks into the electrical outlets biding its time until nobody is in the house. This game is not intended to hurt physically, only challenge mentally.

The house goes up in flames, taking with it the memories, the love, and the future home.

Meanwhile one of the sister’s sends a thought into another woman’s mind. “It is time to welcome a new renter so give him a call,” she whispers silently. The phone call is made. A verbal agreement set.

And the two stories collide.

“The house we planned to move into burnt down this morning. Can we stay?”

“Oh, wow! I just sort of promised your house to someone else. I guess I can still call him and back out.”

A day passes and the couple thinks things are safe. But they aren’t.

“I don’t feel comfortable backing out on him unless you commit to at least 9 months in the house. Can you do that? Oh, and the powers that be have decided to keep the status quo with the job–there will be no additional money or help.”

Commit to another 9 months with a job that is basically destroying the marriage of our fated couple?  What kind of game is this?

The fates simply laugh and wait to see the choices our couple will now make. How will this path unfold?

Only time will tell.

Ending, Pauses, and New Beginnings

June 30, 2011.

The last day of a jam-packed month that flew by at the speed of light while crawling at a turtle’s pace.

How did it manage to do that? I have no idea, one of those tricks of time where you live simultaneously in two dimensions–or something like that.

Perhaps if I sum up the month of Lisa you will understand more:

  • At the end of May I drove Nathan up to Okoboji, IA where he is working for a Summer Theatre Company. Sarah did not come, as she wanted to stay for the last few days of school. So, after an 8 hour drive up I stayed for a day and then drove 8 hours back to begin my stint of single parenting.
  • The last week of May also included a crazy session of planning for two on-line classes, neither of which I had taught before. Both started on June 1st.
  • The end of May also brought the beginning of Jungle Book rehearsals, the results of which I’ve written about in several posts, most recently this one.
  • With the advent of Jungle Book rehearsals came the great Kaa making project.
  • During the first weeks of June, Sarah still had piano lessons, and I had a few makeup lessons as well.
  • Sarah also took a book making workshop once a week.
  • We began helping to clear out (a little) the house we will be moving into at the end of the summer. I promised Sarah she could paint her new room, and that project started this past week.
  • Twice a week I met with the CLASS LTD group in a project that became exciting, challenging, frustrating, exhausting, and rewarding all rolled into one. That project ended today, in a Art/Drama extravaganza in the park. I don’t have any pictures (yet) of our “performance” but here are some shots of the fun had by this wonderful group of people.

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  • After the festivities, I had a final lunch with my friend Heather from Little Red Henry who will be deserting me moving from Kansas some time this summer.
  • In the midst of all this, I made the decision to self-publish and began laying out the manuscript. I’m waiting on some cover art, and then I’m good to go. (This is what I consider my new beginning)
  • We also, finally, closed on the house and I dealt with all the weird financial stuff and paperwork involved.
  • Finally, Sarah and I loaded up the car for our 14 hour journey to Durango, CO to visit friends and have a mini-vacation. We are currently paused in Best Western in Garden City, KS because I could not drive anymore, and I didn’t have the energy to find a less expensive option. At least it has a pool, which was much needed after a morning in the sun of a 100+ degree day.

Does that list clarify the time confusion? Have you ever had one of those months?

Behind the Jungle

As my first attempt at focusing on the details, I thought I would share a little bit about the backstage adventures behind Jungle Book, Kids where I spent a lot of time over the past week.

Anyone who has ever done something for a live performance knows that back stage tends to vibrate with energy, especially on opening night.  Add to that normal excitement the fact that this show had 70 children between the ages of 7 and 12 and the atmosphere in that college theater and the crackle of energy was palpable. I’m sure if there was anymore excitement in the air bolts of lightning would have shattered through the ionized atmosphere. Seventy young children running around in various manifestations of jungle inhabitants (including plants, prickly pears, flowers, rocks, and all kinds of living creatures) created an atmosphere that could have been (and occasionally was) utterly chaotic. Thankfully, with the help of the director and the producer, the chaos stayed at a minimum except for the rare flare up of insanity.

Photo by Jill Schrader

My job, as stage manager of this production, consisted mostly of wrangling kids and trying to prevent them from talking, running, playing, touching. You know, all of the things that kids naturally want to do when they feel this much excitement. I also had to make sure the appropriate group was ready and quiet (the hardest part) for their entrances. Overall this went well, except for the monkey chorus who can only be described as a true bunch of monkeys, led in all chaos by King Louie who had a very distinct way of thinking that the rules did not apply to him. After all, he was the king.

In addition to these more traditional kid wrangling duties, I became the official makeup designer of Shere Kan, and consultant on Kaa, Balloo, and a few others. This would have been completely fun except for one little detail–the one that made opening night a challenge in numerous ways and tested my patience on many levels.

What detail could cause me, the most experienced person involved in this show, to shoot evil looks and lash out? Only one thing could push my buttons that much.

The much dreaded . . .

Now, to be fair, most of the people who helped out back stage were delightful. They put in tons of man hours and created incredible costumes. They kept things organized and helped keep the chaos down.

The ones that made the demon in me appear were the ones who decided that they knew best.  They knew that their child should wear bright red lipstick, even though we (the producer, director, and myself) wanted somewhat less “whorish” colors for these girls. They knew that their daughter’s hair would look better with the bangs down, even though those bangs hid her eyes and blocked the makeup and made her itch. They knew what should happen backstage during the show, even though they stood in the wings and (it appears) used a flashlight that showed out in the audience. They knew when to let the kids move from point A to point B, even thought that meant somehow kids were wandering around in No Man’s land where I found them by luck.

Luckily, I had a very supportive director and producer who made it explicitly clear that I was the boss backstage, and that my word was law. Of course, thanks to Stage Moms, I had a few arguments with their children who were trying to listen to their parents when their parents were WRONG! I won . . . of course. But not without having to raise my voice and be strict.

And during the final two performances we restricted access to back stage much more seriously so I did not lose my mind.

At least the kids realized that I really am nice even when I had to be mean (or at least strict). Most of them appreciated that I was there.

The only thing that brings out my dark side is a Stage Mom. So, if you ever work on a show with me, or send your children to do a show with me, leave your diva attitude behind or expect the wrath of Dr. Lisa.

Evil Eyes. Makeup design by Sarah KramerLee.

Mwa ha ha ha!

Into the Jungle

I’ve spent the last few weeks helping out the local Children’s Summer Theater to get their first production of Jungle Book Jr. up.

It was supposed to be an easy gig that I took simply because Sarah wanted to perform in the play. She had to audition, like everyone else, and then she got cast as part of the Elephant Chorus so I agreed to be the Stage Manager. You may remember I was a little traumatized about the situation, as I discussed in this post.

The following photos were all taken by Jill Schrader:

My Little Elephant, front and center.

Sarah stands at attention the best. She's the second elephant in line, standing ramrod straight.

Sarah standing tall and singing.

Love this action shot during rehearsal

This one is just too adorable. Look at them acting all scared of Shere Khan

This little Stage Managing (read kid wrangler) gig turned into quite the project as I became:

  • Facilities coordinator and tension smoother over. (Long story, but somehow because I’m married to the Technical Director of the theater–who is currently in Iowa–it seems that it became my job to deal with all technical difficulties.)
  • Puppet designer and choreographer for Kaa the Snake.

Having Kaa, mouth open wide, come up from the pit was my idea. But hat lead to today's accident. Boo!

  • Monkey wrangler and semi-choreographer (which meant helping fix up trouble points even though my choreographic talent is limited to jazz hands)
  • Makeup designer, mostly of Shere Kan while advising for Kaa the Snake and Baloo. (I’ll add pictures of them tomorrow.)

  • And now crisis solver as Shere Kan fell off the stage today (she’s okay) and we have to deal with encouraging her to go on and adjusting her blocking for a show that opens tomorrow. She’s the second one to fall off the stage this week (the first was a child who didn’t listen when we said freeze in a blackout–she’s okay too)

No wonder I’ve been blocked, exhausted and just generally pooped.

Wish us luck for tomorrow night, but please don’t say break a leg–that’s a little to scary for this situation.

Appropriate Age Appropriateness

I love reading books for children and young adults.

I like going to movies that have a rating below “R.”

I admit my fascination with shows made for Disney and Nick.

I like to build with and play with puppets.

I talk to stuffed animals, and yes I even sleep with some (they are the perfect size to support my arm, my husband is too big).

I have several collections of music made for children by regular artists.

Sometimes I feel I get along better with kids, then with other adults.

I am in my 40s, and I love all things related to childhood. And I truly believe that those adults who are in touch with their inner child lead happier lives.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, one of my many projects this summer is working with adults with Developmental Disabilities to create some drama/art programming. My artist friend, Jackie, and I go there twice a week to work with this wonderful group of people. At the end of this month, we will be doing a public sharing of some of the things we have done, but my focus has really been on providing this group with an experience that helps them learn, grow, and have fun.

Last Tuesday, the group had an open house and wanted to film the workshop for inclusion in a commercial. So I made sure to plan a really active day, incorporating everything we had done so far–including the fabulous masks and puppets that the group had made. It went really well, and the filming was fun.

However, this is where the issue of AGE APPROPRIATENESS came into play. Yes folks, one of the important people from the company stuck her head into the room to watch what we were doing. Literally, only her head, because to fully enter into the room might actually allow her to sense the energy, learning, and enthusiasm that was going. And what was her reaction? She didn’t like the puppets. She didn’t think they were age appropriate.

Let me backtrack a little to explain. Since this was a new group for me to work with, I had a plan but recognized that I had to be flexible and let the plan grow around the needs of the group. That is one thing that I am good at. So, first I started by introducing them to drama games, and getting them comfortable with using their bodies and their imaginations. Then we asked them to create masks which I thought would help some of the shyer ones come out of their shells.

Some of the fabulous masks.

It worked.

Then I learned that a group of them are in choir and sing “Puff the Magic Dragon. ” In an Aha! Moment I thought, “ooh, we could use that as a foundation for a drama to explore.” So, I brought the song with me to a session–and in that one we went on a magical imaginary adventure to the beach where Puff lived and the cave where he hid out. Then, in the next class, we had the group build puppets made of egg cartons and paper, and the decorations of their creative minds. Again, my theory behind the puppets was to give them something tangible and comfortable to use as we further explored this world.

A Puff puppet. The body is paper and "flies"

On Tuesday, the group interacted with the puppets, the masks, and each other. They had conversations and acted like they were at a party. They came to life.

But remember, the puppets are NOT AGE APPROPRIATE!

Yesterday, I wrote mini-scenes for us to explore, and brought two sheets and a few masks and one puppet to aid us.

Scene I: (on the beach)

Puff: I love you Jackie.

Jackie: I love you too Puff. Let’s always be friends.

We established the beach using the sheet, where we had an imaginary picnic. We ate. We played volleyball. We hunted sea shells. We became seagulls. And then we used the puppet and one mask to practice the scene.

Success #1: The shy man who would never speak or do anything, volunteered and read the lines in a very quiet voice.

Success #2: The woman who said “No!” and would not move, jumped onto the picnic blanket and ate her imaginary chicken nuggets.

Scene II: (Riding in a boat on the ocean!)

Jackie: Land Ho!

Puff: Roar!

King: Welcome!

Pirate: Arrrr!

We used two sheets to create the boat. One became the sail, supported by two people.  We laid the second sheet on the ground and had people sit in the middle. Then we picked up the corners and raised it around them, swaying back and forth so they could feel the boat moving. The rest of the group made wind sounds as the boat moved in the ocean.

Success #3: People jumping at the opportunity to ride in that boat.

Success #4: The older gentleman who is always happy and having fun, but a little hesitant about participating, refusing to let go of the sail because he was having so much fun holding it up and swaying in the wind.

Success #5: Some of the shyer ones again volunteering to speak and become the characters.

Success #6: The man who is somewhat higher functioning, but can be very taciturn and grumpy when things don’t go the way he wants them to, leaping up to become the King and embodying that king in body and voice.

Scene III (In the Cave)

Puff: Where are you Jackie?

Jackie (outside of the cave): I’m too busy, Puff.

Puff: ROAR (sobs)

This time the two sheets became the cave.  Four people held up one for the ceiling, and the other formed the floor. Volunteers again leaped at the opportunity to sit in the cave. When I asked what we might hear in the cave, everyone said “water.” So I grabbed my rain stick and handed it to the one woman who had not participated much at all that day. She simply sat in a chair and watched. She took the rain stick and helped create the glorious drippy atmosphere. Then, as  we started with the lines, I realized that caves should echo. So everyone became part of this scene, with one person saying the line and everyone repeating it several times to create a cavernous echo.

Success #7: Full participation in this imaginative journey.

Now remember folks. We achieved all of this using things that might be inappropriate. 

I wish more adults had the courage to embrace child-like things, because it brings joy.

And for this group of adults, it also brings other important things like:

  • The ability to communicate
  • Use of their imaginations
  • Use of their bodies
  • Fine motor skills in order to use the puppets
  • The chance to speak despite shyness.
  • The chance to touch in a caring, safe way.
  • The opportunity to travel even in imaginary places
  • Etc.

So I am going to continue to embrace the inappropriate. Anyone want to join me?

Please check out this  post written by Diane who used puppets in an even more powerful way, but faced the issue of inappropriateness  as well.

Another Secret: “Forget About It”

Every day you hear talk about sending your goals out into the universe and they will manifest themselves–with your thoughts acting as a catalyst for the universe to create your destiny. (Okay, I simplify that a little bit).

“Thought = creation. If these thoughts are attached to powerful emotions (good or bad) that speeds the creation” (The Secret)

But I have discovered that the opposite might also be true.

I find that often, when I have a more laissez-faire or que sera sera attitude toward something, then it  manifests itself more easily. Or maybe, when I don’t stress about something, I simply convey more confidence as Caitlin over at Broadside wrote about yesterday.

Allow me to demonstrate. When I was a child I always wanted to be an actress. Not just an actress, I wanted the lead. Now, while I often got cast, it was usually in a character role instead of the dream role. (I have since learned the joy of character parts, but that’s beside the point). Part of the problem came from me wanting those leads SO MUCH that I stressed over auditions, and never felt that I nailed them. Not once. This anxiety took over so much that I actually chickened out of auditioning in college, and never tried again until many years later.

This week the Neewollah committee held  auditions for next October’s Neewollah musical. Neewollah (Halloween spelled backward) is THE event in this town, and the musical is truly a community endeavor, and from what I hear a pretty good one. I’ve only seen one of them and it had its ups and downs, but spectacular sets and great singing. Anyway, this year the musical is Willy Wonka. My daughter, who will be in her first musical this summer, decided she would like to audition.

Since the unknown is unknown and the life we have dreamed about has yet to manifest, we decided why not? After all, the more interesting and fun activities we fill our time with, the better our time here will be. So, for that reason I decided to audition as well.

I went into those auditions for the fun of it, and for the first time in a long time I nailed it. I got a call-back, and again I wasn’t really worried about it. I went in to have fun, and I think I nailed that too. The cast list isn’t up yet (and of course I’m not up for a lead). It will be posted on Friday. But whether I get the role I would like or not, that doesn’t matter. I had a really good audition.

See what I mean? Often when I allow myself to stress and plan and REALLY want something, I end up crashing, burning, or just getting hurt. But when I simply accept where I am at the moment, and do things with joy and spontaneity forgetting about the goals or dreams, strange things happened. It happened that way when I met Nathan. It happened that way for some of the projects I’ve enjoyed the most. It happens that way often in my life.

I’m not saying that I will completely stop putting the thought out in the world, but maybe now I just have to think it and then “Forget About It,”

Which one works in your world, The Secret  or Forget About It?

Maybe the real answer lies in a “world of pure imagination.”

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