Block 284: December 14, 2013

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And the snowstorm has arrived outside! The Dog is officially hibernating.

Date: December 14, 2013

Crane: 284

Days Spent on Project: 301

Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC

Person I would have sent it to: Cat D.

Cat was one of the stage managers brought in to Actors Theatre of Louisville whenever a second show was in rehearsal or performance. When I worked those two seasons (2001-2 and 2002-3), she came from New York for the Halloween production of Dracula, and then again in the spring for the Humana Festival.

I always thought she was really cool, especially that she could hold her own in what seemed like The Boys Club that was the production of Dracula… I mean, come on, the show revolved around how many special effects and blood-squirtings could be fit in theatrically…

In a random turn of events, I think Cat lives in my current New York neighborhood. Earlier this year, I could swear that I sat down across from her on the A train up to Washington Heights; I got off the train before she did, and I totally chickened out of saying hello.

It’s totally possible, everyone up here seems to work in theater or some artistic career. New York is actually quite small, in case you didn’t know.

Music I listened to while sewing: Again, with the McQueen!

A few months ago, when I was asked to participate in a workshop/discussion/masterclass about new play development, I was asked what kind of Theater I wanted to be involved in.

I thought about it for a little bit, and replied that I wanted to work on Theater that was like a McQueen runway show. People thought I was being smug; I’ll admit I chose that response because I wanted a reaction that would start a conversation, or at least a question. “Care to explain that?”

As off-hand as it may sound, McQueen’s runway shows elicit a reaction. They’re challenging. Yes, you can appreciate them for what they are (a showcase for his clothes), but you can also take the time to think about the presentation he chose. Why that music? Why is it staged that way? Where’s the beginning, middle, and end? Just, why? In a way, you can’t just sit and watch and walk away. They usually trigger a reaction or a thought process.

The clothes are really well put-together and constructed. They’re a point of view. Yes, he had a favorite silhouette (nip those waists in!), but he also went against it. And when he did, he had a reason. He had the technical skill to back up his ideas. He wasn’t afraid of doing weird or different things. Yet, when he went “weird,” it wasn’t just to shock.

And, as deep and heavy as they get, they usually end on an up-note… with that curtain music that cuts the tension.

I think he made great Theater. And I’d like to be involved in work like that.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Last night I was asked to participate in a workshop for a new piece. The work is still in a very gestational phase- to the point where they don’t know what the style of it will even be quite yet- and they’re giving themselves a three year plan to create the finished work. This workshop was to start a conversation about reactions and responses.

And we were asked to respond using arts and crafts… which was intriguing.

I lazily didn’t push myself to do much research into the project beforehand. I knew the gist of the work, some imagery, but I didn’t want to allow myself the opportunity to develop a preconceived idea. I wanted to walk in, hear some thoughts, see what supplies were available, and then make whatever I could in 2 hours.

It was great, a lot of fun. And, at the end of it, after having shredded some foam core and cut into tongue-depressors, popsicle sticks, and toothpicks, I came up with something that I thought was interesting. As I talked about it, not sure of where the idea came from, I was able to talk my way through my short process.

This is all a long-winded way of saying it was inspiring and got me thinking on the way home about how I need to jump start my imagination a bit more. I need to stop thinking in terms of a polished product or an endgame. I need to allow myself, and my brain, the chance to stumble around and just throw out unfinished ideas. I need to push myself and not censor myself with “how does this happen with the resources I have?”

If I really want to be involved in Theater that pushes back, that makes people think, shouldn’t I first give myself the license to dream? Shouldn’t I discover what I want and what works for the task at hand?

Who’s to say what is or isn’t possible?

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