The creative balance between two possible states of being

Anne Bogart's picture

A number of years ago I co-taught a class for graduate directors and actors at Columbia University with Kristin Linklater.  One afternoon I mentioned to Kristin that in order to catch a Metro North train I would need to leave class a few minutes before the scheduled 5 p.m. finish.  We agreed that she would lead the final hour and that I would participate until I had to leave.

Uninterrupted Connection

Anne Bogart's picture

Several years ago I conducted a ten-day Viewpoints workshop at PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with members of the PlayMakers Company and graduate students from the University of North Carolina.  At the time I was furiously studying neuroscience in preparation for a SITI production about the brain entitled Who Do You Think You Are.  My friend Bonnie Raphael, the vocal coach at Playmakers, mentioned that the neurophysiologist R.

Conscious Delay

Anne Bogart's picture

SITI Company is currently engaged in a three-year project with the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.  Supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, our shared endeavor is entitled Making Communities Visible. The Krannert is an imposing and formidable performing arts center sometimes called “the Lincoln Center of the Midwest.”  But among some constituents of the Champaign-Urbana community, the Krannert is considered elitist and inaccessible.

Art as handshake

Anne Bogart's picture

My new book, What’s the Story: Essays about Art, Theater and Storytelling, has been published by Routledge Press and is now available in paperback, hardcover and eBook and I am delighted to share it with you.  Many of the original ideas in What’s the Story were developed in the context of my monthly SITI blogs.  After I completed the book last September, I was a bit at a loss about how to continue with the blogs. This loss triggered the proposal for Prompts for Anne and may also explain why the blogs during these past months have been so sporadic. But now that the new book is officially published, I feel refreshed and ready to begin again to develop new ideas towards the next book.

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.

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?

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.

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

What's the Story

Anne Bogart's picture

I am writing today in West Fulton, New York in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. I am close to finishing a new book of essays entitled What’s the Story.  The book is made up of eleven chapters, each with a one-word title:

Chaos

Anne Bogart's picture

Our capacity to tolerate error depends upon our capacity to tolerate emotion.
(Irna Gadd)

In 1974 I moved to New York City with the dream of making a life in the theater but first I had to find gainful employment to support my passions.  Here are some of my many day jobs:  Collecting overdue payments from the clients of a bottled water company, teaching theater to adolescents at the United Nations International School after-school program, analyzing expenses for a Wall Street brokerage firm and leading theater workshops in a halfway house for schizophrenics. Each job provided a window into a particular social, political or economic world. Each window taught me valuable lessons about how to be a better theater director.  I mostly learned through my own errors. After many mistakes of presumption and conjecture, I eventually learned to abandon my own carefully premeditated plans, slow down and listen, really listen to what was happening, and then adjust. I learned the necessity of giving up control in order to ride the wave that was already in motion.

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