Resonance

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I lost count of the times that I have entered a room to find my wife Rena weeping amidst objects or photographs from her past. I watch how she gently and lovingly holds the objects that had once been touched by a cherished family member or gazes longingly at the visages of her children peering out at her from fading color photographs. These artifacts create tremendous resonance in her body and serve as a stimulus to vast landscapes of emotion and memory within her.

The Usefulness of Dissatisfaction

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Ric Zank and his company, the Iowa Theater Lab exerted a significant influence on me as well as on many of my colleagues during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The work was physical, imagistic, emotional and, to me, unforgettable. During rehearsals for a new production of Moby Dick in 1975, the lead actor of the company, the brilliant and physically masterful George Kon who was playing the whale, grew increasingly aggravated and upset. At one point his frustration intensified and escalated to a point that he literally ran up a wall of the rehearsal hall.

How To Embody Time

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As a midyear transfer student at Bard College, I stood on a long line to sign up for a popular theater class taught by Bill Driver, the chair of the theater department who would soon become my first directing teacher. Sitting quietly at a small desk, Driver seemed to ignore the frantic atmosphere of impatient students vying for places in his classes. After what felt like an interminable wait, I finally stood before him, surprised to find him relaxed and present with me, interested in who I was and where I came from. Despite the surrounding chaos, he seemed neither rushed nor harried.

Temenos

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Many years ago my T’ai Chi Chuan teacher Jean Kwok made a trip to Hong Kong. On her first morning in the city she walked into a nearby park to practice her form. The large park was filled with many separate groupings of people and individuals moving fluidly through a wide variety of styles of T’ai Chi Chuan. Developed by different families in China over the course of the centuries, there are literally hundreds of distinctly different forms of T’ai Chi. Jean walked around the park observing the variations in form with great interest.

Agency

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You are free to choose what you want to make of your life.  It’s called free agency or free will, and it’s your birthright.
(Sean Covey)

The moment that Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanatta first encountered David Bowie on the cover of his record album Aladdin Sane at the age of 19, her perspectives and attitude were forever transformed. She said, “It was an image that changed my life. It was the beginning of my artistic birth.” She put the vinyl record onto a record player that sat on the stove of her tiny apartment and began to evolve into the Lady Gaga that we know today.

Bearing Witness

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For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.
(Elie Wiesel)

Poet and activist Maya Angelou wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” In small quotidian affairs as well as in the context of large world events, bearing witness to the suffering of others matters tremendously. The fact of being seen with empathy, especially in light of persecution or distress, provides the event an objective meaning. Bearing witness makes it real.

Energy

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Composer, music theorist, writer and influential artist John Cage, known for his delight in the unplanned and the unexpected, nevertheless recognized the necessity for an artist’s rigorous preparation and training. “Energy at its highest level,” he said, “energy that can be expressed by the movement of the human body, will not burst forth unless the dancers have had the courage to train themselves with extreme meticulousness.” 

Copy, Transform, Combine

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You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more.
(Bob Dylan, from Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie)

Theater as Parkour

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If two roads open up before you, always take the most difficult one.  Because you know you can travel the easy one.” (Raymond Belle – Parkour Traceur)

As a teenager I was deeply enamored with French impressionist paintings. The canvases, even in reproduction, lit up my heart and fired my imagination and I wanted to live my life as if in an impressionist painting.  The first time I visited Paris, at the age of fifteen, my high school summer program organized a visit to the Louvre, and for me even better, the adjacent Musée du Jeu de Paume.  

Arousal and Control

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Most of us are regularly plagued by doubt, overwhelmed by the impossible odds against us, discouraged by lack of support and dragged down by physical and emotional hardships.  And yet, despite this, why is it that some people can regularly rise above such difficulties and make more headway in their creative work than others?  Is there a way to calibrate and encourage a balance of energies and forces in one’s daily life to optimize the ability to renew and flourish?  What is the ratio or balance required to maintain creative flow in sufficient doses in daily life?

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