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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This I Believe #9, 2011

You know what to do. (:

April 1st, by noon. (April Fool's day!)


  1. Because Leila Martin covered hers in cool whip every Saturday night(1),

    Because a teaspoon dissolved in a cup of warm water worked as fixing gel for her hair,

    Because she believed in it in spite of the fact that the her beloved Grange(2) was a sworn enemy to Peter Cooper, the man who invented the first American-built steam-engine, founded the tuition-free Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and received the first patent for a gelatin dessert(3),

    Because Homer, Leila’s husband, mixed the strawberry-flavored variety with instant oatmeal to make catfish bait,

    Because catfish preferred the celery and green vegetable flavors available in the sixties,

    Because—according to a painter named Art Frahm—toting celery in a sack of groceries can make a lady’s bloomers slide to her ankles, unexpectedly,

    Because bloomers are all the wrestlers wear inside an inflatable kiddie-pool filled with the product of 1,347 boxes of cherry-flavored powder and boiling water, left to chill for two days,

    Because it took all of two days for electroencephalographist Dr. Adrian Upton to prove that Lime Jell-O has brain waves identical to those of adult men and women(4),

    Because Pearle Waite, a carpenter from LeRoy, NY once experimented with gelatin while bottling home-made cough remedies and laxative tea,

    Because his wife, May, named the fruit-flavored dessert he concocted(5),

    Because Paul E. Parrish II lied about concocting a remote-control bomb and slid it onto the counter of his local video store in an attempted robbery,

    Because the West Virginia clerk working the video store immediately recognized the box that had held a cheesecake-flavored variety before Parrish ate it, dry, in the Kroger parking lot and said, “Shyeah, whatever, dude”, and called the cops(6),

    Because Leila Martin always kept a small cup of it with extra cool whip on top for me, I believe in Jell-O and so should you.

    1. After meeting refreshments served at Westville Grange, Westville, NY from 1981 through 1988

    2. A fraternal organization that demonstrated, in 1876 when political pressure yielded a series of “Granger laws”, that farmers were capable of organizing to advocate a political agenda when it forced railroad companies to pay a fair wage for the vegetables that became their cargo.

    3. Patent No. 4,084 for Improvements in the Preparation of Portable Gelatin, dated June 20, 1845.

    4. On March 17, 1993, technicians at St. Jerome hospital in Batavia, NY tested a bowl of lime Jell-O with an EEG machine and confirmed the earlier tests by Dr. Adrian Upton that a bowl of Jell-O has brain waves identical to those of adult men and women. Though Upton’s pioneering work on the electroencephalography of gelatin desserts started in the 1960s, popular press was unaware of his research until the New York Times published his findings in 1976.

    5. Named Jell-O in 1897, the recipe was sold, by Pearle Waite, two years later when he realized he could not market the product. Sold for $450 to Orator Frank Woodward, one of the best known manufacturers of proprietary medicines, the recipe was sold again two years later for $35. By 1902 sales of Jell-O reached $250,000 each year.

    6. The Charleston Gazette reported on the skilled police work that occurred: "It was some kind of cheesecake dessert ... I'm not sure if it was pre-made," said Sgt. Aaron James, assistant chief of detectives for Charleston police. "I think he had just bought it at Kroger, and he ate it. Then he got the notion to go in and rob the business."

  2. The world has become a vast plane of nothingness, dotted only by the occasional case of random thought. I stand within that void, unsure of what is the event I’m currently in. With sudden realization, I smile had raise my right hand and point towards the west. There springs up a town much like my own, only of varying colors and sizes. Chaotic…the way I hoped it would turn out. The distance between my location and this new town was vast, though…I decide to shorten the distance. With a single thought, my body is suddenly weightless. With supersonic speed, I begin to fly towards the town. Unfortunately the bliss that came along with the power caused my trek to go a little bit too long; I overshot the town. Laughing, I think myself into the center of the town.
    Immediately I go to work; this town needed renovation. Towers and complexes, spires and longhouses, basements and attics, all were created a whim and for no real reason. Sometimes I would destroy the town just so that I could start fresh, ready to mold it into something beautiful. With a start, I wake up from the dream I was enjoying. The memories were already fast disappearing, but the important parts remained. I remembered the happiness of flying and the joys of building things at will…I missed it but I was glad I had experienced it.

    I believe in dreams.

  3. “There must be something all women like”

    Maybe flowers. Growing between steel tracks that split the city in two in a no man’s land feared as hoboland, a place where bearded men on too many pills go to die. Peaking from inside discarded tires, three owners later, self-made monuments to someone’s life, white ribbons trailing in the wind. Carrying on through fall thunder and snow that falls in early December, here to stay until purple crocuses say enough is enough. Maybe flowers.

    Or perhaps tea. Collected from trees lining a road named after someone’s memories of a pastoral past. Blossoms picked one by one, a Kroger bag open to receive them like Colombian contraband. Spread over last Sunday’s wedding smiles and left to dry, leaves grow fragile as old family photos, skin ageing. Boiled to red and swallowed slowly after a dinner of feta and last fall’s potatoes, eyes removed.

    Or lace. Crafted by old women behind closed shutters, no light and no moving air to keep the cool in. A beggar asks how many children, not knowing this is their honeymoon, still evenings of clasped hands and time running away, even at daybreak. The women’s fingers move with the speed of arthritis, fashioning birds and hearts from white thread. In the land of perpetual sunshine romance sells well. Yes, maybe lace.

    I believe in the lives lived on the edges of our dreams.

  4. it may be just a little too cold,
    but i’m bundled well enough.
    snug in my layers,
    i am warm in my skin.
    and this tree, these flowers –
    how could i be anywhere else?
    the delicate pink, tipped with white.
    still early enough that many
    yet sleep, petals wrapped around
    the light, gentle wind carries their sweetness to me.
    i breathe in deep;
    i close my eyes.
    i imagine spring.
    its warmth and its light will be here soon.
    a rebirth. a new start.
    a chance to grow
    as a bloom now closed
    against the cool wind.
    bring me the sunlight and i will open
    my petals, my heart to the sky.
    bring me a warm breeze and i
    will dance with it,
    celebrating life, cherishing existence,
    as can only be done
    in spring.
    bring me this new season
    and i will
    reopen – renewed.
    a soul reborn, blooming.
    a life starting over,
    ready to become

    i believe in spring.

  5. “Your room makes me feel at home.”

    She would always say this. Every time she visited, surveying the clutter I managed to accumulate no matter how many times I cleaned. Paint tubes screwn across one corner as though I was hopeful they would pass for decorations, and song lyrics tacked to the mirror with wax from the candles I shouldn't have had, mountains of soda cans crushed and stacked precariously atop each other in and around the recycling bin as a sort of monument to caffeine addiction.

    “It's not dirty... It's just cluttered. It's nice.”

    My room is cluttered. I used to hate when my room got messy, when I was younger. I never spent much time in my room as a kid though, if I could help it. And as I grew up I started to end up with reminders. Things that I can't let go of, but must at all costs avoid turning into neat little alters to remember people I'll never talk to again.

    My room is clutered because in the drawer of my desk there is a lift ticket and a little folded piece of paper with a poem and a photograph and a pair of dates. That home at six in the morning new years snowboarding trip was the last time I ever saw him. My room is cluttered because in an old rickety frame there is an aging black and white picture of a tall man with a little girl clinging to his leg, my room is cluttered because they had his funeral on my birthday.

    I like clutter. In the middle of clutter, no one outside of myself can tell what is important, what these little reminders are. I am forced to forget, at least some of the time, myself.

    There are too many things which inherently mean nothing in the plastic drawers with wheels in the corner because in the bottom of the last drawer is a ring with a date and initials engraved on the inside, and they wouldn't let me come home from Virginia to hug his sister. My room is cluttered because death is not my life. Because I have lost, but winning isn't everything.

    I believe in clutter, and my room is cluttered because life keeps going and while you can never really forget, you can't spend all your time remembering.

  6. My dad raised me on old people candy. Friends of mine devoured Pixie Stix and Runts while I sucked on Werther’s Originals and crunched through Heath Bars.

    But one candy emerges from the rest, one that somehow defines my candy upbringing more than any of the others: Squirrel Nut Zippers.

    I remember the waxy red and brown wrappers piling up in my box of Legos while I played, the frustration of ripping the paper from the sticky chewiness after retrieving a handful from lint-filled pockets, the way they helped to loosen baby teeth.

    But even more than that, I remember giving them to my friends to try, how none of them had ever seen the candies before, how they were unavoidably linked to my dad.

    I don’t think there was a single store that sold them in my small town, and to this day, I only know one that does or ever has kept them in stock: the Fayette Cigar Store here in Lexington. I remember visiting my Grandma here and going to the store with my dad, but I doubt I realized then that my dad was going there to stock up. I now know that the only reason I was able to munch on those chewy rectangles throughout my childhood was because my dad kept them around, that they were around because my dad remembered eating them as a kid, and that he wanted to share that with me.

    My childhood wasn’t perfect, and my dad did a lot to make it that way, but I am also aware that he did a lot of little things—like buy me old timey candies—that I didn’t know about or appreciate at the time.

    I believe in Squirrel Nut Zippers.

  7. Walking down the side walk in the morning on the way to class, the birds are chirping in the background and the air is fresh and crisp. Exactly the same as when I would walk down the gravel driveway to catch the bus. The sound, a beginning of any spring, fall, or summer day to me.

    Cody pulls into Thorton's gas station, and as we get out of the car the wind has a dull, deadly roar to it. Both warm and windy at the same time, my country girl instincts tell me that the rain is on its way. As I feel the warm air on my shoulders, I remember the excitement and urgency of the day when Daddy was rushing to get the lawnmower home from the farm and the chainsaw in the building before the rain rushed down. The wind whips the trees, and my hair in the same way. Warm, storm's a brewin' wind has given me that sense of racing againsit the clock everyday since.

    The next day I see the storm clouds above the library as I circle Haupt Plaza. As normal, the uncertainity rain brings out in me is present. I dread the possible damage; tree limbs on cars, flower pots blown away, mowed hay getting so soaked it's ruined, Cody's grumpiness brought out by any and all precipitation. At the same time I am eager for summer rain to fall down. Eager to take off my shoes, let wet grass tickle my feet, and my skirt spin extra flowingly in the spiritied rain. Rain is a joy: an opportunity to curl up with a good book under lamplight on the couch as the rain almost, just barely doesn't touch your shoulder pressed againist the cool glass of the window. Rain is a joy: spinning, dancing, wet hair flying, feeling cool water on skin still slightly warmed from the day beforehand.

    Walking to education, cutting across Old Morrison circle since I was raised to think of grass as something to walk on. With my eyes staring down at the green, thinking about how I want to be at the farm with Rita home, I hear a train whistle in the background and for a minute I believe I am in Glendale. The first time a train whistle in Lexington has ever been as peircing or againist as quiet a backdrop as one heard from my backyard.

    I believe in the sounds and feelings of springtime, and I am amazed by their transcendence of homes.