Devised Theater: A Venn Diagram

Devised Theater: A Venn Diagram
This diagram was created by the co-producing artistic directors of Rude Mechs to depict the complexity of creating and crediting collaboratively devised work for theatrical performance.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

This I Believe #6

Ok, you know the drill by now. Please post your TIB by noon this Friday (February 25).


  1. Depression is necessary. From time to time we all feel lonely, blue, down and out, and we have certainly all seen better days. This depression is temporary—fleeting—unavoidable. However, this depression is not what I think of when I consider that necessary depression. I am thinking about that dark, debilitating misery that confines you to your bed for three days; quarantined to sweaty pajamas, junkfood, and whatever shitty infomercial happens to be on at 4am. This is the party depression—it keeps you up all night, bored but drunk off your own insomnia and tears. It makes you sleep all day a fitful, unsatisfying excuse for rest that only amplifies your exhaustions. It leaves you somber, but not sober, for the next night of reruns and advertisements. This is the all consuming depression. It ages you prematurely. It makes you sick, but there is no remedy for this. It worries your mother and frightens your friends. It turns you into your own worst nightmare, stumbling and snarling from exhaustion and the hallucinations brought on by multiple sleepless nights and day-sleep that never really revitalizes you. This depression throws you to rock bottom and holds your mutilated body beneath the mire until, finally, you are able to escape.
    This depression is fleeting too. Sometimes it takes an eternity to get away from it. Other times, it only lasts a moment. This depression is necessary. It is a purging, purifying depression that hurls you to the bottom so that you may see your own happiness and good fortune as you climb your way back to the top.
    This depression is pain. And pain is necessary so that we may understand the ecstasy of pleasure. This depression is horror. And horror is necessary so that we may understand beauty.
    I believe depression is necessary.

  2. I believe in an older gentleman who writes between the hours of 3:30 and 6 am while sitting in a booth at a 24 hour diner. Untwisting the tie of a manila envelope, he pulls his work in progress out adding notes and text that will later turn it into a masterpiece.

    A kind waitress secretively asks a group of students if they like chocolate, whipped cream, and nuts. They give the only response possible and then wait in anticipation for what will happen next. Three bowls full of cubed brownie, vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and nuts are delivered to the table. I believe in free desserts.

    I believe in the center sink of the women's restroom.

    A large group of Russians insist on being seated in the back corner clearly unaware that they are invading the unofficial study wing. They proceed to talk animatedly about religion for the next hour. The Russian words sound melodious and foreign, serving as a distraction not all that unwelcome to a student tired of reading and writing. I believe in eavesdropping.

    I believe in coffee with two creamers and two packets of splenda. I believe in ice water, fruit cups, and poached eggs served on top of whole wheat pancakes. I believe in eating breakfast at 11 am, lunch at 5 pm and dinner at 2 am.

    I believe in hard work, passion, and all night businesses that support the late night needs of students. I believe in the sense of accomplishment achieved by completing a difficult paper. I believe in sharing passages of interest from readings with those seated nearby. I believe in keeping an office in one bag and carrying a library in another. I believe in two tables for unpacking these bags.

    I believe in six red letters splashed across a yellow banner.

  3. I believe in Lent. Although I have fallen away from many parts of the faith with which I grew up, this part still holds an important place in my mind. For those who don’t know, in the Catholic and Christian tradition, Lent is a time of waiting, fasting, and praying in preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus on Easter weekend. The forty days waiting period between Ash Wednesday and Easter weekend is based after Jesus’ own time spent fasting in the desert. Although this time carries a lot of significance within Catholicism and many forms of Christianity, I think its meaning and purpose go far beyond religion. For me, Lent has always been a time of cleansing. It is a tradition, not a necessity, for Catholics to “give something up” for this time. Many people however, take this lightly, but I think Lent provides us with an opportunity to make significant changes in our live. Sacrifice is necessary to see how much we like something. Along with sacrifice, Lent is a time for reflection, and also for almsgiving. Lent is a time to slow down. Every person, religious or not, could benefit from doing these things. In the world we live in, it is important to occasionally step back from the big picture to reevaluate what is important to us. Rejecting the material world and pushing ourselves to the limit while simultaneously making an effort to be more generous and rediscovering ourselves, that is what Lent means to me. I always come out of the season, feeling more myself than when I entered it. I believe that asceticism can be the best way to identify with those who have no other choice but too fast every day. I believe that limiting oneself for a time is the best way to see how good I have it. I believe that in a culture where most people have the ability to give up more than a little, Lent is a good way to bring us back down to earth. I believe in fasting. I believe in meditation. I believe in giving. I believe in Lent.

  4. 1 jar of bottled beasts
    1 video of meatrain: softly falling
    chunks of flesh

    Picking grapes was fun. It was far better than sitting still at a desk on the last days of a summer lingering into September. Like other high-school students in iron-curtained Bulgaria, during the first week of school we picked fruit: a requirement for collectively owning our native land. Some years we picked tomatoes. One fall we were assigned apples (we bruised too many and were never asked back). This time our skin smelled sweet from over-ripe grapes: no one worried we’d damage the fruit.

    1 pedestal for a skull cap
    1small pile of portrait bones:
    bearing images of people whose bodies
    were stolen from their graves

    In September 1989—two months before the Berlin wall collapsed, toppling regimes grown old while grasping for newness—we spent a week gathering purple grapes in blue plastic buckets. Nobody knew how much we collected. Nobody cared which way the grapes traveled, to what sticky end. We spent our mornings waiting for lunchtime. With everyone else, I feasted on white bread, soft cheese, and gossip. We were not asked back. Someone had finally seen the hopelessness of our late-summer collective labors.

    1 floating screen for the projection
    of snail-sex
    1 wall drawing of a gigantic eye,
    eyeing snails across silver lines

    Years later I gather our two kids on the snowiest day of winter and make two trips to our neighbor two doors down: one for each kid. Wrapped tight in a pink coat, I carry the three-year-old over unshoveled sidewalks. The baby travels zipped in a snowsuit. I have asked our neighbor to watch them for two-and-a-half hours. I am going to work, I explain to our daughter. Our neighbor—a Wisconsin native undaunted by a Kentucky winter—invites a friend over. The friend—a second-grade teacher whose school is snow-bound—brings a handful of cookie cutters. She and our daughter cover snowflakes with white frosting while our neighbor rocks our infant son, singing a made-up tune. I drive slowly through blowing snow, hoping not to slide and crash. I have never before driven on snow.

    12 title tags
    1 pasilalinic telegraph:
    communication through the sympathetic
    vibrations of mated snails

    On the snowiest day of our winter, I arrive in a room kept as warm as a cabinet tucked away in an attic. I am here to teach a class for a friend who, two hours away, builds a tower of mustache cups enveloped in flowers. I share what little I know and I depart: driving slowly towards two sleepy kids, a neighbor, and a new friend. Collectively, we have helped give birth to an old dream.

    I believe in community.

  5. Katelynn Austin
    NightcrawlersI believe in nightcrawlers. Bed bugs? No. Santa, toothfairy, Easter Bunny, and the government of the US. You see there are plenty of things I do not believe in. Nightcrawlers are not one of these things. I am not talking about some child figment of a cute little caterpillar, I am talking about night terrors, monsters of sorts. You see they are things you cannot keep to yourself. So consuming they are, that one certainly cannot simply remain silent. However, I have found that when people ask how I slept the night before, usually just to fill an awkward silence or for much the same reason they ask how you are doing as you swallow some of the dust they left as they ran by uninterested, I comment “Oh, just a night of nightcrawlers I suppose!” And we both giggle like I used some idiomatic expression everyone else apparently was aware of before I was aware that it is my idiomatic expression, and simply their idiotic response. It makes me laugh, and suddenly the terrors are not quite as powerful.
    While I am asleep, the usual two hours that is, they enter my mind coiling and meandering serpentine-like, wrapping themselves around my thoughts squeezing and suffocating the life from me. Often they are so sneaky though, that I remain unaware that their presence is indeed there. I suppose just expected company that I no longer am phased by accept on the rare occasion. People say I scream. My own shrill banshee call is yet to wake me. Even when I sleep I do not rest. Rest is not a safe place of rejuvenation and peace but something that I awake from exhausted, and full of a fear I cannot explain any better than the one experienced a few hours earlier when my body was refusing to move and my brain refusing to function from sleep deprivation. Perhaps my Irish ancestry, born on Friday the Thirteenth, followed everyday on my drive to high school by a black cat I came to admire, or that I am just another loyal representative of American depression. Whatever it is, it makes the nightcrawlers as real as the effort it takes to put one foot in front of the other.

  6. I believe that the heart of a blue whale is as big as this room. Inside the red pulse of jelly and juice, a father makes tea and a mother plays dominoes. Their children are out exploring the lungs. Where they are building a tissue house. With the swing of a white blood cell. The whale feels his arteries tickling like the warmth at the edges of his head like just before he blows his spout.

    Lynne Cox is a long-distance cold water swimmer. She was seventeen, training off the coast of California when a baby gray whale surfaced about ten feet away. Lynne realized the whale had lost its pair. In minutes she took the role of foster mother. Together they swam the coast, towards seals, away from stingrays, as one. They shared unexplainable moments, an eye as big as her fist watched with trust. Interconnected, together they searched the sea for the mother of Grayson. With names come loyalty. The power of naming things.

    I believe that the heart of Grayson was bigger than the heart of the blue whale. I believe that the heart of a blue whale is bigger than the ocean. And the people within the whale, their hearts are bigger than the globe. The universe is the force of billions of hearts beating in tune with animal, vegetable, mineral. The universe is biodiversity, intwined beings, the butterfly effect. We all contribute to one another, and when we remove a factor, a species, a temperature, a weed, we start to crumble.

    Perhaps if we could all name things, could touch the heart of each enormity, we would be more careful. We would see ourselves in each other, within species. Grayson and Lynne shared an element, what some call the human element. Something intrinsic in all of us, making us crave the end to our intentions. Desiring the whole above the individuals. Sacrificing our own self-interest for the betterment of our neighbor. Suffering the cold of a September ocean to return a child to the care of its mother. We are not so different from the Other, from Grayson. We all arrive closer than previously possible.

    Our hearts are capable of encompassing the universe. And that is heartbreaking in its unclaimed potential. We can all help the Other by understanding and aiding. By turning cells into swings and tickling the holes that let out the Dust from the tops of our heads into laughter. In this way, I believe the heart of the blue whale swallows this room.

  7. 1 jar of bottled meatrain: fallen
    flesh collected by a freed slave
    1 video of tightly bound poetry:
    disintegrating, returning to dust

    More than once, I stole a coin from hidden tubes buried inside sock drawers, stuffed, in secret, with half-dollars. One day we learned the hidden tubes of fortune held the tickets for our trip to Texas. At ten and twelve years of age, my brother and I were entrusted to strangers as we clutched clear sleeves full of coins deep within our duffel-bags: enough for two round-trip tickets. With no cell phones and no chaperone, we were escorted by neighbors: fellow passengers on our way to Texas and back. Our mother trusted the strangers journeying with us as she trusted our uncles, maybe more.

    1 video procession: gilded sentiment
    and flowery porcelain shields for men
    1 silver-lined wall drawing of
    improvements to gravesite security

    Years later I reach out to former neighbors. I stretch back through ten silent years to a friend who crafts a mustache cup at my request: one hairwork handlebar. I reach across ten city blocks divided by a shared but unacknowledged racial past and ask a former colleague to write a poem: one hairball extracted from the dead stomach of a slave-girl. I ask a man, once my student, to read letters sent in gratitude one hundred and thirty-two years ago: one collection of microscope slides, research into the minds of prisoners through samples of their hair. I reach out to them for an assortment of histories we own together: a Cabinet of manly feats.

    1 skull cap: drilled by detonating
    devices designed to protect the dead
    1 massive bezoar: an arsenic antidote
    sealed beneath glass

    On the snowiest day of our winter, I arrive in a room vacated and painted white. I spend the day with no food, one glass of water, and two hours of sleep. Neighbors keep me company: talking across years of silence. Friends nourish me from a distance: my cell phone an arterial connection. It takes a well-staffed workshop to do cabinetry.

    I believe in community.

  8. My first memory at a concert; standing on the lawn of Riverbend listening one of my favorite band sing out while the crowd roared with happiness, with freedom in their voices. A weightless feeling combined with the feelings of happiness, joy, and freedom. These are the things I feel when standing out of the lawn, sitting in chair, crowd surfing, things that come from attending concerts. Emotions that come with attending concerts and embracing the music inhibit the body and you become free. Concerts have become one of those events that create such an extreme, positive atmosphere. An atmosphere I feel as if that moment couldn’t get any better. Music in general is one of those things that bring people together regardless of differences. It’s a common bond you share with the person next to you. You are both there to lose yourself within the sounds being created. I believe that attending concerts is one of those experiences that everyone needs to endure at least once. Any type of concert will do, classical, alternative, rock, metal, country, any of them. When dancing along to the rhythms or singing along to my favorite, I have this sense of freedom, of weightlessness. I believe that music is an extremely important aspect of any person’s life and it’s something that improves a bad day, creates a safe haven to escape into, it’s a stabilizer. Standing on the lawn at Riverbend is always a memory I can look back on and remember those nights where I felt at peace with myself and nothing in the world could darken that moment besides the night sky. The flashing lights across the crowd, the notes of music floating through the crowd, these are the things that bring people together. I believe that music and especially concerts help create harmony among people with differences, even if it only for that one night.

  9. This I Believe; Wind and Words

    There are two kinds of beauty. One comes from the illusion of timelessness; a picture is a flower that will never wilt, a home that will never fall, a friend who will never die.

    The other kind of beauty comes from the poetic understanding of tragedy; a withered tree standing gnarled on a hill, ancient ruins, a picture of a friend who did die, things falling apart.

    Petals of disillusion fall away from my world, carried off by the wind. As time goes on, I see the transformation of something once beautiful into something made only of “once-upon-a-time”s, a bald fleshy core dreaming of a near-distant place when the world seemed so much more permanent and full. The beauty remains, but it’s transformed into something with tasteful scars in place of flawless surface, lament instead of joy. Now I count a journey’s end instead of the endless beginnings that come after.


    Sometimes, when the wind blows just right, and the air feels just cool enough, I can remember from my skin to my bones, what it is to be filled with dreams instead of filled with anxiety; people used to be there, now they may or may not.

    Discontent breeds loneliness. Or is the other way round? The beauty of bird perched on a tree branch just right becomes tarnished when there’s no one there to share the moment with. So many jokes go untold because there’s no one to utter them to.

    I believe in talking to strangers. We are all travelers, and everyone needs a companion from time to time. Who better than someone who you might never see again?

  10. This I Believe; Sad Dichotomies

    For most the answer to the question of “home” is as simple as one’s parents, or one’s husband, wife, lover, or one’s children. For me, home is wherever my toothbrush happens to be at the time, whether that’s an apartment of a friend or stranger, or even my pocket.
    Something like a vagabond when if I feel dramatic, something like a pauper when I feel cynical.

    I bank of the love of others to find the support I need, and I do draw heavily from that checking account. As a child I use to resent my poverty. That life made me hate everything and everyone. The constant humiliation of growing up like that did not give me humility like one might expect from the word “humiliation”; it did give me distrust and a stinging fear of others.

    The poverty of which I speak is not only in material goods. Life sought to make me different from others in many ways that deprive, ways that oppress and some ways that convinced me to oppress myself. I live in a body that has never known a lover’s touch, the sensation of romantic moments shared with someone else. A monkey catching the Moon’s reflection, I see and want it, but can never have.

    It’s a bitter poison to live like that, to know that love can have conditions, stipulations. But I now know that poison served a purpose. While I suffer from that sting, the poison has killed the cancer that was killing me. I’m weakened from it, but those parts that would kill now wither and are falling off, leaving me to heal and someday, I will be able to walk without the humiliation, fear, anxiety I once knew.

    I believe in the pain of growth.