Make It New

Anne Bogart's picture

Most SITI Company members have heard me tell the “naked nun” joke far too many times. It goes something like this: soon after emerging from a hot bath, a nun, still naked, hears a knock on her cell door.  “Who’s there?” she asks.  A man’s booming voice answers, “It’s the blind man.” Assuming that he cannot see her, the nun does not bother putting on her clothes and opens the door to find a man carrying a large package on his shoulder.  He looks her up and down and says, “Nice tits, now where do you want the blinds?” 

If any company member is present when I am telling the “naked nun” joke, I know that I must find a way to tell it with an irresistible freshness.  If I do not, I know that my colleagues will not be amused. For me the task is clear: make it new!  To reinvent the story while telling it requires heightened awareness and wakefulness. I pay sharp attention to attack, accents and timing.

Similarly, I find that part of the challenge, of working with the same group of people for over two decades, is that it is very difficult to rest on one’s laurels and suggest old stand-by ideas or solutions to new problems. In rehearsal I cannot propose ideas that we have used before without getting grief about applying concepts from a previous production. “You have pulled that card already,” someone is bound to say.

Connecting to the SITI Conservatory

J.Ed Araiza's picture

To my old friends and new ones at the wonderful  Inaugural class of the SITI Conservatory.  I started this 2 weeks ago in LA but forgot to post it. So pardon the belated entry.  j.

12/6/13

Hello from Los Angeles where people are all wearing jackets and coats as the weather here has dropped from 80* F last Sunday to 44 *F last night. Today is Friday and the temperature is supposed to drop to below 40 this evening as I write this in my office at UCLA. The campus is in Westwood just east of Santa Monica and the ocean so it does gets cooler here at night than downtown LA where I am staying now. Today was my last class for the fall quarter but I am staying to see an evening performance of a Greek comedy by a graduate director, I am especially interested in her work since Eliza will be applying for the SITI Summer Intensive at Skidmore….And that is somewhat common in my life out here now – how to keep and maintain my relationship with my company and so now to you, the members of our inaugural SITI Conservatory class.

2nd to the last week of 1st semester!!

Barney O'Hanlon's picture

Hey all,

Barney here. Hard to believe it but we just finished up our 2nd to the last week of the 1st semester. It’s gone so quickly and so beautifully. This was a very special week as it was the final composition showings for invited guests based on the participants work on the Persians that we will be doing at the Getty Villa in the summer of 2014. This is a great opportunity for SITI Company to see what the play might be and also what it doesn’t want to be. The 4 compositions were amazing and strong and WILDLY different which is a testament to the diversity of our group! The week ended in a very special way as we took the last 3 days for SITI Company’s Creative Lab. Creative lab is literally a laboratory for SITI to work out ideas for our next big show. Normally it is just the company but Ellen had the brilliant idea of including the Conservatory, as they already have great insight into the material. So we ALL worked together unpacking this very difficult material.

Reflections on the Prompts

Anne Bogart's picture

The new Prompts for Anne approach to the blog has provoked some eloquent writing and thinking from various readers.  A few of the prompts impelled me to respond and others are self-contained observations and rich thoughts, which I will include below.  Please continue to send me prompts via email to prompts (at) siti.org.

From Neil Utterback:

As a theatre maker and a theatre educator I find myself often wrestling with an ethical issue. A significant foundation of our training at Juniata is in Viewpoints and Suzuki. I’ve been lucky enough to train with SITI on a couple of marvelous occasions yet I have never trained with SCOT (well, not yet). I guess it’s a kind of Theseus’ Ship problem: How many generations out does a thing no longer exist as the original? For example, if I have never trained with Suzuki can I call what I teach the Suzuki Method? Or if I am making my own additions and alterations to how I teach Viewpoints can I still say that I am teaching Viewpoints? Or is it something else? Or is it just about transparency? I feel like, as the training becomes more and more incorporated into academia and other companies, we have to engage in a conversation about its evolution, the genomics of theatre pedagogy, if you will. Thoughts?

SITI diary/blog Nov 11-17 cafe variations adventure in seattle

Akiko Aizawa's picture

Time flies…  I’m sorry for the delay of diary/blog entry.

sun. nov. 17  The sky was so beautiful on the flight back to NYC.  This week started a bit heavy hearted, thinking of the people of The Philippines.  When this kind of event happens, my heart aches.  And looking around, I notice that some of my friends are facing to really difficult situation.  I should reduce my complaining about small things.

Shout out for Kelly, Megan C. and Barney for their teaching marathon.  Thank you!  

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Ok, now, back to monday, 11-11

SITI Diary November 4 - 10

Gian-Murray Gianino's picture

There are weeks, days, moments in life where you think you are right on the edge of not being able to handle what is being asked of you. And I know as I re-read that sentence that it seems laughable given the amount of things that I and the other members of the SITI faculty are currently asking of our SITI Conservatory company members. It also seems silly given the fact that my wife and I have a baby on the way and, from what people have been telling me, I don’t yet know anything about what it means to be overwhelmed and underprepared. Anyhow, for better or for worse - and even though I know the repercussions of “failing” are pretty small compared with what many people have to deal with in the world - I did have a moment of feeling completely overwhelmed this past week.

What's the Question

Anne Bogart's picture

Questions are the key tool of every theater artist.  Each worthwhile project is animated by curiosity, by questions, by a nagging itch that requires attention. Part of what makes a play endure through time is the significance of the question that lies at its core.

Emily Dickenson wrote, “Wonder is not precisely knowing, and not precisely knowing not.”  To live in between knowing and “knowing not” is a fecund place and a creative one as well.

I have found that many great questions can be answered with a single word:  Exactly.  These questions are themselves an embodiment of the action of trying to answer them. For example: Question:  How can I balance my personal life and my professional life?   Answer:  Exactly.  Or, question:  How can I work collaboratively and yet still maintain my personal vision?  Answer:  Exactly.  The paradox contains precisely the problem that needs attention.  The answer is an ongoing action.

The Week of Oct 28-Nov 1, 2013

Ellen Lauren's picture

Perhaps it was Isabel’s ability to dissect the situation in Cuba with such compassion and laser-like vision, giving perspective to the artistic situation there, as well as her own state of being…

Or perhaps it was my quiet few moments with Jaako in the studio at lunch one afternoon, just he and I, and the room, which became a sanctuary despite the energy still trilling the air from classes…

Or it might have been the constant sound of the door to the blue room opening and shutting all through the week, constant activity, which in our small space, denotes constant changing of roles…

Or was it being in the audience for the four compositions on Wednesday, transported to four different landscapes, physically, emotionally, astonished by the breadth of imagination and talent…

SITI Company Diary/Blog week of 10.21 2013

Leon Ingulsrud's picture

One of the great pleasures of my life is living in NYC.

I really like this city. I always have.

 

I first visited the city in my first year of life in 1964. To put it mildly, NYC has been through some changes since then, but despite many things about it I hate, and wish were different, I’m smitten. This love is, undoubtably, aided by the fact that I’m not always here. I go away from time to time. And then I have the wonderful experience of catching sight, after an absence, of the Manhattan skyline. It’s cheesy but there is part of me that still sees it in Woody Allen’s black and white, and hears Rhapsody In Blue in these moments. I like feeling Melville’s ghost brush past me as I bike along the Westside piers of “the Manhattoes.” But it is also that when I wander through the sensual hurricane of Times Square, the tiny streets of Little Italy and China, or listen to the candidates campaigning in my neighborhood for political office in the Dominican Republic, I feel a connection to the world, and all of the big cities. I cannot look into the diversity of New Yorker faces and not be reminded that we live on an entire planet here.

Prompts for Anne

Anne Bogart's picture

For the past several years my blogs on the SITI Company website have been fruitful and useful as I worked towards the completion of a new book of essays entitled What’s the Story. Thanks to the blogosphere I was able to think intensively about issues that related to art, theater and storytelling and then share the consequent writing with you. In September I finished the book, a significant expansion upon the blog writing, and submitted it for publication with Routledge Press. I am excited about What’s the Story coming into existence in the world.  Thank you for your help in the process!

And now, in the quest for a new direction for the blogs on the SITI website, I turn to you for help.  How can we launch a dialogue together?  What are your burning questions, thematic ideas or prompts about subjects that you would like me to consider and attempt to address?

Each month I will make selections from your prompts and I will do my best to address and expand upon the subject.  Your question or prompt will be included in the blog and with my response. In this way I hope that we can stimulate even further dialogue. Please send your prompts to: prompts@siti.org

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