NOVEMBER 21ST

 

It is hard to believe it has been 2 years since our grace period ended. What a public yet intimate celebration we had that day.

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Money doesn’t buy happiness.

Can you afford happines?
Can you afford happiness?

Money doesn’t buy happiness.

Repeat that to yourself until you believe it.

October 6th 2014: Insofar as I can imagine, I will be fine.

From Imagining O. Photo by Marina Levitskaya @ The Alexander Kasser Theater From Imagining O. Photo by Marina Levitskaya @ The Alexander Kasser Theater

Insofar as I can imagine, I will be fine.

I am most recently dueling with the withdrawal from the last show I was involved in. And by involved, I mean as involved in a relationship with about 20 people that became my artistic lovers, siblings, and mentors. Artistic in the same quality of life. After 7 weeks of what one could only taste in dreams, of exchange, of inspiration, of rage, of love, of pain, of confusion, of growth, of clarity, of politics, of physical, emotional and intellectual stimulation and exhaustion: what now? I am back to the question that has haunted this blog from its very beginning a year ago. What now?

But I prick myself deeper with the question: what now what? What should be or happen now?

Now being both the time and place I live in, does not realistically paint a pretty picture to me. I don’t need it to. If in anyway this recent experience has marked my life is in restoring my hope in the limitlessness of my mind, of my creativity (and everybody else’s!). Insofar as I can imagine, I will be fine.

Imagining O, the production I am processing about (nor writing nor talking seemed enough to describe what I am doing here), was all about, well, imagining. And not really all just about that of course,* but imagining was obviously so central to it that its title takes on it. And it is in my experience of imagining through Imagining O that I want to make a/some/no point here.

A couple of years ago I found this book called Environmental Theater; it would shape the rest of my career, more, the rest of my life. Not only did I recognize in it many of the ideas I have been exploring and struggling with through my somewhat traditional undergraduate training in the theater, but it revealed an exciting world of possibilities that had been in the making since long before I was even born. How come I never knew of this other world and boundless way of creating? I found my privilege in finding this world myself.

Was it not a challenge, reading this book? It was! I wanted to agree with it all and yet I couldn’t, but as I read through its pages the lessons taken from its author’s experience in creating this other kind of theater, I kept imagining myself as a part of this wild all-encompassing process. This book gave me something to pursue both artistically and intellectually (if I decide that those two are separate things), but not just this book, its author did. I decided I needed to learn more about these artists, these ways of creating, so that my own creations could be richer than whatever otherwise they would be. It was a moment in which I was truly disappointed in art and the world. It made sense at the time that academia would save me; but not academia in the traditional sense, academia in the sense that the author of this book who is both an academic and an artist had coined in the shape of what is Performance Studies (to him): a field, a methodology that “must refer to, come from, and refer back to embodied behavior” and that has “no fundamental” so that “any list of established text or performance must be revised and changed.”** And so I dived into getting my Masters in Performance Studies, romantically seeking to be saved.

I was probably more troubled than ever before in my life through my grad school experience, not to mention it is at the very heart of my financial headaches and the parent of this blog. Yet it has saved me in many many ways.

Not longer than a year after graduating I was sitting in a dance studio in New Jersey with my scene partner by an awkwardly large table, 2 porcelain cups filled with coffee in front of us, and in the presence of the director and his assistant. We were rehearsing.

 

“You have the talent, you just need the courage” tells me Richard Schechner, creator and co-director of Imagining O, author of Environmental Theater, and founder of the Performance Studies department at NYU. He tells me not in one of my preposterous sentimental dreams, but in that dance studio, 8 weeks ago.

 

And he tells me over and over again in my head as I now walk in the now of the “show is over” and “now what?” I do need the courage, we all do, and nobody can give it to us, it is only from within that we may build it or find it. I knew right away what I needed my courage for, and it was for imagining, and not for imagining just for myself, but for him, for my scene partner, for the entire company, for my family, and ultimately for the world. Throughout the process of Imagining O, we were constantly reminded of how harmless and fruitful it can be to just let one’s imagination run. There’s a pleasure and a horror in going there, so what? Just about two years ago I was imagining myself in the middle of a workshop for an environmental theater piece, and there I was just a couple of weeks ago diving in slow motion into my own death at the last performance of Imagining O, which according to Richard is “the most environmental piece” he’s ever done. And while I had imagine these moments wildly, more often than not the actualization of those fantasies exceeded any dreams I could have had about them. The immediate feel of trust among the company, the generosity with which we all arrived to our first rehearsal-workshop, the love that we shared, the intimacy we created, the inspiration we exchanged, is incomparable to anything I might have imagined would happen. Now I have more to imagine. The piece is about our collective imagining of the characters, authors, and texts that we explored; our collective imagining: from the designers, to the directors, to the production team, to the cast. So, with higher standards for imagining, now I imagine more, and I know, I will be fine.

 

 

I originally wrote this text on October 6th 2014 with the intention of posting it on this blog. But then, for some reason, I didn’t post it, until today. Maybe I just needed the courage.

 

Insofar as I can imagine, I will be fine.

 

 

*More about Imagining O: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/13/theater/richard-schechners-imagining-o-at-montclair-state.html?_r=0

**From: What is Performance Studies? Interview with Richard Schechner http://hidvl.nyu.edu/video/003305515.html

 

A-Quick One-Act Some-History of-Education (Inside-My-Head)

Characters

Person of Power 1

Person of Power 2

People-Students

Act 1- Scene 1

(An office, in the past past past, People-Students are heard protesting right outside )

POWER1

I don’t think education should be a right, sounds too dangerous that way. Let’s keep it a privilege.

POWER2

You are right. But, these people are revolting because they want it.

POWER1

Hmm… let’s just give them some “pretend education system,” and they’ll shut up.

POWER2

Done

(People-Students cease protesting).

POWER2

(Looking out the window)

Hey! Look! They seem to really like it.

POWER1

(joining POWER2 at the window)

They do…are you thinking what I am thinking?

POWER2

Yes! let’s make it a little more expensive.

POWER1

And they won’t be really able to afford it, so we can lend them money, and we’ll make even MORE money!

POWER2

Done

[…]*

(Protests start again)

POWER1

This again?

So annoying.

Ok, Why don’t we get rid of a couple of them to scare them a bit.

POWER2

Done.

(Protests cease)

POWER1

Just keep those prices rising. Easiest business ever!

POWER2

What about the quality of education?

POWER1

What about it?

POWER2

Nah, nothing.

To be continued…

*Insert/improvise some conversation about breakfast.

 

And while you are here, please check out this article from the HuffPost about the movimiento that has started in Mexico due to the disappearance of 43 students and the appearance of dozens of mass-graves with unidentified bodies:

Mexican Government — Tell Us the Truth — Where are the Ayotzinapa 43?

 

“Go. See. It.”

Debra Kirouac

Debra Kirouac
Debra Kirouac

Check out the review that Debra Kirouac from Woman Around Town just published about The SM Cabaret: Slaves of Sallie Mae!

She definitely enjoyed the show, and she urges you to “Go. See. It.”

The S.M. Cabaret: Slaves of Sallie Mae is not only fun but also an important play. While it does point out a lot of problems with the student loan system as they exist today — high interest rates, inflated costs of degrees, low-paying jobs vs. high debt — the show’s message is that even though most of these women are indebted, they’re still strong, talented performers who have something to say. – See more at: http://www.womanaroundtown.com/sections/living-around/the-fleecing-of-young-america-the-s-m-cabaret-slaves-of-sallie-mae-student-debt-stories-with-class-and-sass#sthash.Nwyurnkz.dpuf
The S.M. Cabaret: Slaves of Sallie Mae is not only fun but also an important play. While it does point out a lot of problems with the student loan system as they exist today — high interest rates, inflated costs of degrees, low-paying jobs vs. high debt — the show’s message is that even though most of these women are indebted, they’re still strong, talented performers who have something to say. – See more at: http://www.womanaroundtown.com/sections/living-around/the-fleecing-of-young-america-the-s-m-cabaret-slaves-of-sallie-mae-student-debt-stories-with-class-and-sass#sthash.z54LC4EE.dpuf
The S.M. Cabaret: Slaves of Sallie Mae is not only fun but also an important play. While it does point out a lot of problems with the student loan system as they exist today — high interest rates, inflated costs of degrees, low-paying jobs vs. high debt — the show’s message is that even though most of these women are indebted, they’re still strong, talented performers who have something to say. – See more at: http://www.womanaroundtown.com/sections/living-around/the-fleecing-of-young-america-the-s-m-cabaret-slaves-of-sallie-mae-student-debt-stories-with-class-and-sass#sthash.z54LC4EE.dpuf
The S.M. Cabaret: Slaves of Sallie Mae is not only fun but also an important play. While it does point out a lot of problems with the student loan system as they exist today — high interest rates, inflated costs of degrees, low-paying jobs vs. high debt — the show’s message is that even though most of these women are indebted, they’re still strong, talented performers who have something to say. – See more at: http://www.womanaroundtown.com/sections/living-around/the-fleecing-of-young-america-the-s-m-cabaret-slaves-of-sallie-mae-student-debt-stories-with-class-and-sass#sthash.z54LC4EE.dpuf
The S.M. Cabaret: Slaves of Sallie Mae is not only fun but also an important play. While it does point out a lot of problems with the student loan system as they exist today — high interest rates, inflated costs of degrees, low-paying jobs vs. high debt — the show’s message is that even though most of these women are indebted, they’re still strong, talented performers who have something to say. – See more at: http://www.womanaroundtown.com/sections/living-around/the-fleecing-of-young-america-the-s-m-cabaret-slaves-of-sallie-mae-student-debt-stories-with-class-and-sass#sthash.z54LC4EE.dpuf
The S.M. Cabaret: Slaves of Sallie Mae is not only fun but also an important play. While it does point out a lot of problems with the student loan system as they exist today — high interest rates, inflated costs of degrees, low-paying jobs vs. high debt — the show’s message is that even though most of these women are indebted, they’re still strong, talented performers who have something to say. – See more at: http://www.womanaroundtown.com/sections/living-around/the-fleecing-of-young-america-the-s-m-cabaret-slaves-of-sallie-mae-student-debt-stories-with-class-and-sass#sthash.Nwyurnkz.dpuf

“The S.M. Cabaret: Slaves of Sallie Mae is not only fun but also an important play. While it does point out a lot of problems with the student loan system as they exist today — high interest rates, inflated costs of degrees, low-paying jobs vs. high debt — the show’s message is that even though most of these women are indebted, they’re still strong, talented performers who have something to say.”

SO COME TO THE CABARET!

Click HERE for the full review!

slaves-to-sallie-mae-520x434

grace period//no bullshit

I want to vomit whenever I imagine running into a teacher from high school, an odd thing I do now as a form of self-flagellation. Quakes of shame toss my stomach until I feel sick. I imagine saying, hey, thanks for those letters of recommendation – I’m a receptionist now and my boss calls me cutie. Not that there is anything wrong with being a receptionist, except for its being boring as fuck.

When they knew me I wanted to work as a chemist. Dual-degree. A dancing chemist? they would laugh as they asked. I would smile and say, that’s the idea. Now I smile and say, do you take cream or sugar with that? Now I try to work the fact that I’m a dancer into every conversation, ignoring the fact that I’m a dancer is far from fact. I haven’t performed since graduating college and moving to New York – calling myself a dancer is like the non-baptized calling himself Catholic.

Yet I continue to genuflect my life to art, and I will continue to identify as a dancer. I will give myself this month, this year, these years, as a grace period, the time when I cut the ego and its bullshit. I will remind myself that those high school teachers have likely forgotten about me, which is just fine. Everything is fine.

Katy Telfer*

 

 

 

*Katy is our newest collaborator and she will be performing with us @ The SM Cabaret: Slaves of Sallie Mae.

 

 

 

PUT A PRICE TAG ON US

PUT A PRICE TAG ON US

We went to school

We were taught to fight for fair causes

To appreciate and embrace cultural differences

To always question and stretch the limits of what we think we know

To see the world for what it is and not for what “the powerful” want us to believe it is

To load ourselves with knowledge and critical tools to free our creative thought processes

To understand why it is important that we overcome oppression and inequality together

To understand why it is important that the world becomes a better place

To take ownership of our ideas

To learn from art

To make art

To use art

So, I ask you, how much are we worth?

Unexpected Inspiration – Thanks José Rivera

One of the joys of living in New York City is that inspiration lives around every corner. There are thought provoking, challenging, beautiful events happening all over the city on any given night. Hell, they’re even happening on the street and in the subway if you’re looking for them. I bring this up because I bought a discount ticket on a whim to attend an event at the Public Theater. The event was part of the Public Forum, the “Theater of Ideas,” and featured a talk by Sarah Lewis, followed by a conversation between her, José Rivera, and Carrie Mae Weems. I didn’t know much about these people, and I wasn’t sure if I should spend the money, but something pushed me to go. Ticket for one please.

And it was exactly what I needed. I won’t go into the long talk I had with new friends after the event, or even the highlights of the event itself. Instead, I will share a story by Jose Rivera. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment, and maybe it will be what you need to hear too.

Preface: José was raised in a Catholic tradition (cue sympathetic pat from Weems), and he was always intrigued by the creation myth.

————

As we all have learned, God created the world in 7 days. On the first day, he separated light and dark, blah, blah, blah. So on the seventh day, it was good, and it seemed complete. There were a few bunnies on a hillside watching the sunset, but the thing was, they couldn’t enjoy the sunset. All they could think about were where their next carrots were going to come from. That’s when God realized that things weren’t actually complete. He needed someone to enjoy all the beauty he had worked so hard to create, and someone to help others see that beauty. And so, on the eighth day, God created the artist. An artist’s job is to finish creation—to help others find the beauty that already exists.

————

Thank you José.

Getting the act Together

We’ve been meeting weekly for what’s gone of the year. We’ve been frustrated, stimulated, disappointed, uncertain, excited, absent, present, lacking, overworked, restless, perturbed, dedicated. Together. And finally we are getting it. After long hours of debate with each other and ourselves, we’ve made, not “it,” but something.

From our SM Cabaret workshop meetings, we have not only created a script and have a laugh and a tear and a rant about it, we have also grown, matured, arrived at many important discoveries for our art and our life. Art, love, economy, society, value, humanity. We have finally tamed all these themes that keep bouncing back and forth in our conversations giving us anxiety and nightmares. We are allowing ourselves to have fun with it. Let’s fucking have a lot of fun with it. Because we’ve earned it; we have worked so hard, not only investing our time thinking and researching and brainstorming, but also waiting tables, and picking up the phone for our bosses, and changing diapers, and running crosstown to meet deadlines, and writing cover letters, and trying to budget, and applying to programs, and being mindful with our neighbors. We are getting the act together, Together.

But. We are not alone, and as beautiful as that can be, that is also the very reason why we must keep moving forward with our goals: empower artists to develop their own work, create a community that is aware of their rights, push the boundaries of what defines a “grace period,” remain active creators. Even when our goals are not so clear, even when the road seems dangerous and pointless; we know that we are up to something (whatever that can be) with the best of our intentions, intentions that are not selfish but the opposite. What can we do? We can try, experiment, fail, learn, try again. Yes all those life old cliches. But why not?

Better together than alone, and better yet than knowing something is wrong and not doing anything at all.

 

Getting the act Together

The scariest and most freeing

feeling

action

seduction

There’s all to be won

there’s little to lose

Our next act

will do something

not only for us

but also for you.

Maybe you’ll laugh

maybe you wont

maybe you will even argue with us.

And we want it all

so we’ll take what you’ll give.

Getting our act Together

is a dance

is a walk

is a dream

is a nightmare.

Above all

is our act,

and we are getting it.

Together.

 

 

 

See you at the cabaret!