30 Jul 2009, 11:33pm
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presence/presents

on monday evening we went on a boat ride on the bay. there were lots of pelicans:


(that photo is actually 3 photos. in high school i compensated for my mediocre photography skills by editing the bejeezus out of the pictures i took. it made me feel artsy. today i had fifteen unexpected minutes to myself, and anyway my photos of the birds from monday were not very good, so i made this.)

today a few of us went to the farmer’s market just up the street with our “treasure map” of eureka to collect more people’s stories and generate interest in the play. i also ate really really delicious strawberries handpicked last night by the guy who sold them to me. he had four varieties; the ones i ate were a hybrid with wild strawberries and were small and tart and sweet and amazing. i also bought these two tiny succulents:

which i plan to put in a pretty turquoise pot together and keep on our kitchen table in the apartment a. just moved into today in sunnyside. yup. yes. oh yes.

the other day i figured out how to see the mist here. rain so light it doesn’t get anything wet, but you can feel it a little on your skin if you’re not too busy feeling everything else. you unfocus your eyes a little and look at the air: a fine, trembling film between you and the world.

my days are very full and at the end of them i feel calm and productive. been spending a lot of time in the costume shop making argonauts’ helmets and playing with the hot glue gun, but tomorrow i’m spending all day (starting at 9am) at the blue ox working on construction and set stuff. i am thankful for my 20-minute solitary bike rides to the blue ox. i am thankful for our end-of-day meetings, even when they last until 12:30am.


(adam in tin can mailman used bookstore in arcata on our day off)

27 Jul 2009, 12:08am
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25 Jul 2009, 10:52pm
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22 Jul 2009, 11:09pm
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what can you do?

ohhh oh kay, lots of stuff i want to write about. probably won’t get to all of it; coulda shoulda woulda written on my day off on monday,

day off

but instead i slept appallingly late and got tea and a donut at the bakery up the street (the one that sells 5¢ cookies by the dollar bag on tuesdays) and then biked to sequoia park

and then to arcata. i took old arcata road, aka the back road, in the interests of not riding on highway 101. very nice, past farmland and little eccentric houses. it’s cool to cycle around here in a different way than it’s cool to cycle in portland. there’s less of us here… but not a single cyclist i passed the whole day (and there were quite a few) didn’t greet me with a nod or a smile or a hello or all three.

in arcata i hung out at arcata plaza for awhile, reading in the sun. an old hippie gave me a flower that matched my hair, asked my name, told me his, wished me a pleasant day and headed on his way… and then turned around, called my name and asked if i wanted to smoke a bowl. hah! i couldn’t help but sorta giggle at that, the quintessential humboldt moment, am i right? i mean if i’m trafficking in stereotypes. plenty of people in eureka don’t really like the pot stereotype thing, but plenty of other people sorta shrug and say, well, it’s true for a lot of people.

when the clouds rolled back in i biked back to eureka along the 101, which wasn’t too bad at all (and was lined with beautiful madrone trees), which is good ’cause i’m really looking forward to biking much longer stretches of it next summer!

braiding the river

spent a few days before that working on set pieces with two other students, leslie and ramy. water is represented in various ways in the play… for one of these ways, we had to braid very long pieces of blue and green fabric into roughly 24-ft-long braids. it’s very hard for one person to braid such long pieces, so we each took a strand and we did the “braid dance.” we got a really good rhythm going and sometimes we sang songs or got into the dancing part of it, with little flourishes and such. sometimes we just talked, about the institute and about our lives. we spent probably five hours or so total, over two evenings, making twenty braids. the playfulness with which we accomplished what otherwise would have been a repetitive and boring task was really valuable to me.

posters

this project feels interminable! in this picture they look beautiful and so close to completion:

these ones are limited edition, actually-printed-on-the-press lovely ones, and they just need to be gold-stamped with the golden fleece stamp that our set designer nephelie and sage (a student) designed. the posters we actually put up around town will be photocopied, with the names of the actors around the edge (though still with that lovely blue color, and–if all goes as planned–all hand-stamped with the golden fleece). we’re supposed to take the poster to the copy store tomorrow, but… the cast is still a little up in the air. one of those things about working with first-time artists and all of that. i feel a little distant from that aspect of the project, because i’ve spent almost no time in the rehearsal room. my community engagement is sort of theoretical. it’s one of my challenges here.


(mieke and leslie in the print shop after leslie and i printed a whole bunch of posters)

atmosphere

in the morning it’s foggy and cold. in the middle of the day, it’s warm and sunny for a few hours. in the evening, it’s foggy and cold again. tonight it felt like portland in march. the air here often has the same heavy, low, moist quality as the air in portland. this morning in class i made a dance about this similarity, and about how people here and people there paint their houses such bright beautiful colors. hah! we are in the middle of a workshop with peter dimuro, formerly of the liz lerman dance exchange, which creates community-engaged/community-based dance. also, liz lerman is the person who came up with the critical response technique of workshopping that is used during jaw (just add water, portland center stage’s annual playwrights’ festival–i interned in ‘06 and ‘07, and stage managed in ‘08). ya know, connections…

dancing in sequoia park

for the second part of class today, he took us to sequoia park. sequoia park is to eureka sorta what forest park is to portland. except smaller. except full of really tall beautiful trees. anyway, we danced there.

i really like this sequence of photos of morgan–

the ducks did some dancin’ too–

yeah

i got into a conversation with peter over dinner about communication and reconciliation. he has apparently actually done a great deal of reconciliation work as part of his career, and he uses critical response–he says he recommends viewing the relationship between two entities as a work of art that the two entities are co-creating. so, asking neutral questions, etc. i like that perspective and hope to incorporate it into my relationships.

people:

i am feeling artistic tonight. full of things. i was looking through my hard drive for things to delete ’cause i’m running out of room for all the photos i’m taking, and i found this little cover i recorded of one of my favorite songs (off of my favorite album in the whole world). it is not exactly what i was trying to make it be when i recorded it, but i listened to it tonight and found it to be sweet and i wanted to share it.

good night
sweetest dreams

17 Jul 2009, 11:57pm
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figure it out

this morning’s class was about design for community-based theatre and the “five Fs” of community-based design, which include Forum, Found objects, Folk, Fabrication, and Facsimile. (i am sleepy or i would talk about these more. on the first day of class, one of my classmates asked, “what’s the policy on sharing the curriculum with others outside of the institute?” and the artists who are teaching us sort of went, “what? we want everyone to use the things we’ve learned and to make art like this.”) the designers who taught the class (the designers for jason in eureka) showed us lots of pictures and told a lot of stories, and then each talked in more detail about one show they’ve designed for cornerstone and how they incorporated the five Fs. these designers make AMAZING things happen. beautiful spectacular things, artful and resourceful things. they also talked about a sixth, unofficial F–”figure it out.” if you’ve got an idea, if you know what would make the show wonderful, etc, make it happen. figure out how to make it happen, even if it means attaching huge lights to a battery pack and a backpack to create moving lights in a venue where you can’t run cable or whatever. (and make it accessible, even if it means building a wheelchair ramp to the second floor of a huge building, up stairs and through windows…)

anyway, cornerstone is really into getting groups of people into circles. and one thing we do in these circles is check in. when we start class, or a meeting, or whatever, we go around the circle and we say how we’re feeling, what attitude or emotion we’re bringing to the meeting and to the day. when we check in at our end of day meeting, most people talk a little bit about how their day was. this is pretty amazing for a lot of reasons. my day today was sort of slow, and i’m pretty tired, so i’m glossing over a lot of stuff as a sort of reminder to write about it later, maybe. i wanted to say, today my check-in at our end of day meeting went something like: “i’ve been thinking about class today, too, and ‘figure it out,’ and i think that i tend to make a lot of excuses for why things aren’t gonna work out, when really i can just… figure it out.”

really glad i ended up here. ’round lots of people who are figuring it out, all the time. and not in the “well i’m still figuring it out” kinda way. they’re making it happen.

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poster progress:

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i’m leading warm-up on sunday. another student, leslie, loaned me augusto boal’s games for actors and non-actors and i want to play ALL of them. seriously, i want to maybe put together a group that would meet a couple hours a week to work our way through the whole freakin’ book. find out what’s good. find out about each other.

16 Jul 2009, 11:23pm
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15 Jul 2009, 12:04am
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practice

* most mornings before class (i mean, every morning that we have class, which is most mornings), we have a half hour “warm-up” led by an institute student. today sage led us in some movement exercises, and then a partner movement exercise, and then a partner exercise that i found to be incredibly powerful. we sat across from each other, placed our palms together (one person’s facing up, the other’s down), and looked into each other’s eyes. after a long moment, sage told us to notice the light and shadow on our partner’s face, to take it all in… another long moment, and she told us to find something to love about our partner’s face, and to practice loving that thing. then, to find something we hate about that person’s face. and then, a different thing to love. while we continued to look into each other’s eyes she told us to remember the way it feels to love that face and to hate it, and to remember that we always have a choice, and to feel that love and bring it into our interactions throughout the day. my beautiful partner and i hugged and thanked one another. it was a good day.

* i’m leading a warm-up this coming sunday and i’m not sure what i want to do yet! what are your favorite fun theatre games or movement activities or whatever? so far i think i’d like to do nala walla’s “steamroller” exercise from the ecosomatics workshop i took with her during the village building convergence (man, when i put it like that i sound almost as cool as everyone else here at the institute. almost)–in which one lays oneself perpendicular to a prone partner and rolls one’s midsection over the partner’s body–but i’m not sure it would work very well on the hard gym floor (maybe if it’s a nice day we could do it outside!). the people here are definitely cool with touching each other, singing funny rhymes, dancin’, whatever. maybe boppity bop bop bop? silly might be the way to go.

* i am so busy. what else is new? i am so happy. that is sort of new.

* i spent two hours this afternoon pretty much alone in the incredibly dusty print shop at blue ox, learning how to set type (with a little guidance from eric) and digging through boxes and pulling open cases looking for what i wanted. it was much-needed and reinvigorating and fun to be alone with the dust and the type. i’m not sure how i ended up in charge of this project, but rock on! starting tomorrow i will have some people rotating through there with me one at a time, and i’ll have to figure out how to make it productive and fun for both of us. i’m sure it will be good.

* i also rode my bike there and back, in the sun. that helped a lot too.

* and i talked to a.

* i am writing more about the institute and less about the community part of all of this ’cause it’s hard to know where to begin. i have talked to a ton of people, and not talked to a ton of people i probably could have talked to. it’s challenging! the whole process of getting to know a community this way–with the explicit intention of getting to know this community–is really fascinating and i’m not really sure how to begin to write about it. julia (another student) and i are doing this notecard project: during auditions we asked auditioners to answer two questions on two notecards, with words and/or images: “what brought you to eureka?” “and why do you stay?”–questions that are important in the play. we have gotten some beautiful answers, some funny answers, some poignant answers. two of my favorite answers to the second question: “as a wild seed, i finally found a safe place to plant myself.” and “my family was made here.” today during callbacks, we asked people to “tell us a piece of eureka’s history, yours or someone else’s.” i have all these funny feelings about eureka all wrapped up in all these reasons people have given us for being here (both positive and negative). in class a few days ago, we talked about the blurry line between insider and outsider…