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, April 8, 2010

This I Believe #11

Please post your "This I Believe" essay by noon on Friday, April 9.


  1. I believe renewal came with the bloom of Kentucky spring. Last April, my friend and I sat in my room and contemplated our happiness. How did we arrive in wholeness and the fresh breath of free. We lived solely in highs, the complete of education and friendship and the moments of now. I played on quilts like instruments laid upon the lawn, drank in the same consistency as sweat, wrapped myself in the appeal of being a bird. I found the closest thing to love on a porch in the dark in bowling green and let its simple joy consume and understand my essence. Letters on the plane to Greece moved my feet to complete exploration of self and culture and our good deeds. My hair gathered oils for a month, I laid my clothes to dry during a call to prayer, woke up at sunrise to follow the choir of Sparta, found flowers that jumped with me into the Agaean, and I never felt as alive as when I cried on a cat in the rain of a gold foil church. We said hello on steps leading to the front door and good-bye in a car hearing ben sollee. I woke with dawn to apologize to our trust, and felt ease at the end of the season.

    This spring has a separate entity. I realize that leaving is not the same as being left. Oftentimes, I am lonely. It is the abandonment of friendship, of missing mute notes of the fountain outside my window at night, of a longer winter, of the weight of responsibility, of the slump of an unfulfilling courses, of living through others instead of myself. I watch with wonder the lives of old acquaintances, wondering why mine feels so overwhelming and yet so incomplete. Why I feel so riddled with mistakes when one day, only a year ago, I had been whole. My friends are able to escape – they leave for British Columbia, India, Thailand, graduation, or just to find something more. I feel stagnant but I know it is selfish to leave this place. Instead I am left, waiting with the promise of more.

    The trees outside have started forming the paper cup of petals. I walk barefoot, ride my bike to woodland, stencil shirts of summer, find old friends waking from winter along the road. But something is missing. Something that makes the heart unfold like the flowers. The laziness of love, the fullness of friendship, the escape of our education. But I have hope that one afternoon quite soon, Kentucky sunshine will settle upon my fingertips and allow everything to mend. We will all be simple again. I believe renewal comes with the bloom of Kentucky spring.

  2. I believe in the power of my insomnia. At 4 o’ clock in the morning, I have yet to lie down to sleep. A cat basks in the glow of my lamp, head slightly elevated on my pillows; half-moon eyes glazed in a sleep that comes and goes as easily as my own. He watches me as he dozes, beckoning my warm body to his in a bed that looks exquisite in all of its fluffy-pillowtop-too-many-blankets-glory.
    I resist.
    There is work to be done.
    There are words to be done.
    Usually these kinds of late nights are a reflection of my procrastination—a paper due in a few hours, a book that I haven’t quite finished reading. I suppose this night is similar. I was working on a speech for the 2010 commencement ceremony—I hope to be selected as this year’s student speaker. I had been debating with myself if this was something I could do. If I have the courage to speak in front of so many people; to speak like that in front of my friends and family.
    Do I have the balls? My phallus is bigger than yours.
    I think I can do this, so finger’s crossed everyone, because this is something that I now know I would really like to do.
    I believe in the power of my words, always so much more meaningful (to myself, at least) for the hours of sleep sacrificed upon the altar of some divine and unattainable linguist I hope to someday be. I believe in the power of my words, because I want to inspire. I want to make a difference. I want it. I need to connect through the power of a written and read word. My voice is a cursor moving across a field of white. Jumbled letters trail behind, forming prose and slander and poetry and profanity and beauty and depression and hope and novels and inspiration and music and addiction and.
    And so much more.
    I believe in written language, and ten fingers on a keyboard. I believe in composition notebooks and a pencil in hand. I believe in pencil sharpeners and razor blades. I believe in Uniball, and I believe in Papermate when money is tight. I believe in crayons for fun, and markers for flesh. I believe that the best and most acceptable meaning of the phrase “number two,” is in regard to a pencil.
    I believe in words; I need to believe in words.
    Writing is my life.

  3. I am writing this under a maple tree because it reminds me of my childhood. It is spring and I am hoping to photosynthesize along with the new spring leaves that hold the fruits of labor and the play thing of children by a string. The helicopters aren’t quite ripe to fall and unlike the grass around my home tree, this grass is green and full instead of brown and patchy. My tree was about as tall as it was old, 60 feet and 60 years. Its trunk much too large for a child’s embrace, and the hug itself too odd to a teenager who could reach around it. Its knots held secrets and its roots spanned the entire yard, choking out most of the life on its side of the sidewalk. It made up for this with a carpet of helicopters and a wig of leaves only to be shed and redonned each season. As I grew, its leaves began to shrink with each coming spring. It spoke of death when the wind blew through it. Cracks began to form and it began to loom dangerously toward the house. However, this tree held tenaciously to the earth that supported it. It did not lose branches even after its partial death and increasingly hollow middle. It had put down its roots firmly and well and in its old age was reaping the rewards. It whispered of death while fighting for life. Coincidentally, or perhaps by fate, the legendary ice storm of 2009 tore apart western Kentucky and also my tree, on the same year that I, the last of four, would leave my homestead. I took it to heart. My home was no longer my home without the shade that stretched from neighbour’s yard to mine and this year, no helicopter’s used our yard as a landing pad. The feeling of green newness from picking apart one of these seed capsules to see how it worked, and the verdant smell it left on my finger’s, would never be had again. Because my home had transformed, along with the people in it, I was ready to leave when September came knocking to take me away. I’d like to think that the tree held on just long enough, and waited for me to be ready to see it fall, and to hear it crash, and to almost kill me in the process. I believe that my maple defined a part of my life, and that that part of my life is now over.

  4. Blood
    Katelynn Austin
    I believe in blood: A positive, a mix of Irish, Dutch, and English, bright red running down the bed post after busting my chin, the evidence of a climbed tree, bike ride, or brawl with a neighborhood boy. This blood bonds us: my sister and I. It is a promise to each other. There is no need for crimson fingerprints at the bottom of this pact, the loyalty is flowing though us. Rather, we are sealed in the knowledge that every moment our heart beats; the other’s heart is pumping the same blood, the same love.
    This love has indeed been bloody, complete with the battle scars that have come as we nearly killed each other, usually subconsciously. You see, you won’t fight for something which you do not care about so deeply that you yourself would die for it. I would die for my sister. I love her so very much. Instead, I have nearly killed her.
    As a perfectionist, idealist, and the self-sacrificial type, masochism is a shadow that attempts to follow me as I walk though life. You know, whenever life is eating you up inside, when your soul is dying with each passing moment, and you feel helpless because there is not a single thing you can do about it…as if whatever you were able to do would be enough. As I have seemingly sacrificed only myself, the reality of family has met me face to face. The connection I have with my sister is deeper than anything in this entire world. So when I was degrading myself isolating from the world, immersed in pain, I was drawing a knife right through the heart of my sister looking on silently, when at one point she had looked up to me. I was killing her with every thought twisted in my head to be true. She lost the sister she had known and the life of our relationship, the very blood running through our beings seemed to cover the floor and leave a stench in the air, the crimson brick wall between us the same color crimson.
    She never left me. She couldn’t. It wasn’t just my heart slowing; I was slowing my sister’s heart, even as it tried to beat for the both of us. But more than that, the connection she has with me, is a seal of love. Never official, yet possibly signed in the bark of our treehouse, the giggles of a shared bed, the singing of our voices into hairbrushes as we shook the nerves of a first date, or the milk that spewed from our noses from the slap happiness of late night baking, the oath I have taken within my heart and she in hers will never end.
    The blood is clotting. The wounds are healing. As my heart is beating, I hear the echo of hers picking up. They beat their own rhythms, yet the increasing volume leaves no doubt of their harmony. I believe in a connection flowing through my being, I believe in blood.

  5. I remember the smell of the apples, the trees, the fall leaves. I remember being thirsty but my excitement pushed my thoughts of water and curing my dry throat to the back of my head. I remember asking my mom what time everyone would be arriving and her simply saying something vague like sometime in the afternoon. Her hands kneading dough, her mind elsewhere. I remember seeing my dad out back trying to get the porch cleaned off, and my little sisters attempting to capture and dress the dogs are pilgrims and Indians. I remember my older sister and I sneaking chocolate chips off the counter or playing with the apple peals left over from baking. Its thanksgiving day and its my favorite holiday. I believe it’s the best time of the year. I believe it’s the time when my family seems whole again, even if it’s just for one day. I believe its time when we open our house and hearts to our neighbors. I believe it’s the time when parents invite old friends and family to our house for a celebration of thanks that for anyone who has been to a Griffin Thanksgiving understands its celebrated a such a fashion that no one leaves hungry or unhappy. Whether it’s the time when I am 7 years old and my sisters and I have corralled our dogs and cats and forced them into a parade through the dinning room and then attempting to let them join us at the kid’s table until my mom notices what is going on. Or the time when our veterinarian let us paint his nails and color his hair with what we thought was washable hair color. He wasn’t upset that he had orange and pink hair for the next 2 days. Or the time when I was 18 and my dad’s best friend told me the only way to capture a man is to know how to make biscuits and gravy and proceeded to teach me how to make gravy, which I despise because I don’t like to taste or texture. Or my favorite, every year breaking the wishbone with my older sister and each of us making a wish. I believe in tradition and how I can depend of Thanksgiving bringing together the most unlikely people.

  6. This I Believe; Beholders

    If life were fair, I'd stand 6 feet and 1 inch tall. However, due to an unfortunate accident in a gamma ray laboratory, my self-image stands closer to a clumsy 10 feet, unable to comfortably sit in any man-made chair, hold and delicate objects or walk through a regular door with ease.

    I glide across the ground like the shadow of death itself (so I'm told), trained by years of self-consciousness to be silent, subtle and witheld.

    My outward persona is aloof, one of power, designed to appear powerful so those around me never want to take a closer look.

    If one seems powerful to those who see you, does that make one powerful? Or is there something more to possess power than believing you have it?

    I believe power is in the eye of the beholder.

  7. untied

    The burlap sack poured grain and pellets of pressed grass into a thick rubber bucket: black with a stainless steel handle and emptied alongside rocks piled around soil worn free of grass by the dexterous lips of our cow. Her breath raised clouds of dry dirt as she ate. I felt the curls between her horns with my hand. A sudden breeze carried the smell of damp dust, and a dark wall of clouds moved quickly toward me. The birds who sang soundtrack as I walked to our pasture were gone, replaced by cascading sheets of water.

    clipped up

    The canvas cloths our father used each day to catch dropped drips and buckets of paint fashioned large tents over our clothesline. Thick with the scents of solvent and latex, the air inside is made moist as the sun wrinkles, dries, and cracks polychrome puddles. The sun sets and we lay on our backs looking out each of the open ends in our long, triangular ceiling of fabric. The night sky draws itself shut like a paper sack soaked with rain and perforated with nail holes letting the stars shine. Soft drops sound on the canvas, in the grass.

    clipped wings

    The Anhinga stretches in the sun to dry feathers logged with water: standing still on strong legs made for swimming with the lean grace of a snake, the hunger and focus of a shark. Motionless against swift shallow waters she waits for the air to lift her lightened body, dry, into the clouds to find another stream: another source of nourishment. Seams rip and pouring rain brings the buoyant bird to the ground. A world away I unhitch a horse, remove leather reins, and walk a red-velvet covered carriage back into the barn: my tuxedo dripping and transparent.

    I believe in standing still in the sun, walking in cold rain.

  8. (Kremena's essay)

    Hospitality in Laramie is abundant, even if it takes time. Because we arrive two hours behind schedule, Hertz is closed. The young guy whose smile greets us into the small make-shift airport (with old coffee brewing next to Styrofoam cups) tells us the one taxi company in town is a rip-off and offers us a ride. Then he calls Big Brian who arrives half an hour later to open the office for us and rent us the car that takes us into town, along a dark and desolate I-80.

    Matthew Shepard was found tied to a fence, bleeding, 18 hours after his assaulters took his shoes and beat him.

    At the Coal Creek Café, the barrista smiles and welcomes us into a familiar world: white chocolate and raspberry muffins, spiced-apple scones, skim latte, Ani DiFranco singing in the background. Though it’s windy in the 28F air outside, inside it is warm and appropriately hip. We are offered filtered water—for free—and a bulletin board advertising a bikeride for peace next Saturday.

    Matt was, reportedly, a friendly guy. He’d go up to anyone, strike up a conversation, smile a wide Wyoming smile.

    It is impossible not to measure Matt’s friendliness, the smell of coffee, the sunshine bathing the University of Wyoming against a murder. 12 years later, unruly ghosts trouble our visit. Matt says there is a hidden story behind the other Matt’s murder: it was no hate-crime, it was a crime over drug money, lots of it. Matt smiles a wide Wyoming smile and tells us he loves the land here, he can’t imagine living anywhere else. We don’t dare ask Big Brian if he is gay, but we leave in our rental car, hoping his life is good.

    Today we want to believe in Laramie.

  9. My alarm goes off. I look at the clock and grimace as I see the time flashing: 6 AM... 6 AM... 6 AM... Slowly, grudgingly I start to swing my feet over the side of my bed. I let my feet hover off the ground, which only allows the dread to sink further into my sleep adled brain.

    Getting out of bed is the worst part of my day.

    With three hours of sleep and two cup of coffee under my belt, I head off to work, where I will stand for 7 hours in front of a cash register, a bagel basket, a slicer, or a bakery display. I might even get to work at the barista stand. If I am lucky.

    My alarm goes off. I look at the clock and grimace as I see the time flashing: 5 AM... 5 AM... 5 AM...
    Haunted by dreams of burnt bagels, angry customers, and hateful co-workers, I grimace as once again my feet hover.

    Getting out of bed is still the worst part of my day.

    With two and a half hours of sleep and three cups of coffee under my belt, I head off to work.

    Experiences. I collect experiences. Gritting my teeth I remind myself that this is just one more experience. That it will make me stronger. I remind myself that this is only temporary, no matter how endless the shifts feel. I pull my hair back into a ponytail, and put on my green apron and cap.

    I smile, forcing the corners of my mouth to turn up as high as they can.

    Happy. Happy. Happy. Happy. I Am Happy. A silent mantra that tricks my mind.

    I believe that our society has created a work force that is regularly asked to give up part of their soul to meet the consumer needs of others. I believe these groups are often interchangeable. I believe that I am both, worker and consumer.