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 21, 2013

This I believe #6

post 'em here!


  1. Blankie is white with blue and pink ribbon swirls separated by printed rose buds. Its fabric is so soft and pure. Some combination of cotton and nylon maybe. No matter where it goes it eternally holds the innocent smell of baby.

    I never fell asleep without it. I even snuck it to sleepovers until I was 13. It would hide inside my pillow case and would make its appearance once the lights were out and no one could see. Then in the hustle of the morning just before breakfast I would be sure to quietly shove it back in its secret place.

    I received my name snuggled inside blankie, it went back between Kristen and Kristina until the moment I left the hospital. My mom finally got her way. In a way it got its name too. Kristina’s blankie. When looking for it before road trips you would hear its name echoing through the house.

    In its later years, blankie had to go through numerous surgeries as Grammy called them. She would trim away the tattered edges and place a new pink hem on the new outskirts. Each time she did blankie shrunk and roses died. When blankie got too small that’s when I decided to put it up. I couldn’t stand to see it lose another sliver. I figured because I loved it so much that I should save it. It had seen too much not to be preserved.

    Blankie is now in a tupper wear coffin. It felt like a real funeral when I put it up. I folded it carefully on my bed, took out the green tupper wear bin that mom kept my childhood items in and placed it there. I stared at it sitting on top for a while, tears running down my cheeks. Then I finally put the lid on when I heard the garage door opening meaning that mom was home. I then ran back to my room acting like nothing had changed when in reality at the very least my whole nighttime routine did.

    I believe in my blankie, for all of its witness. I bet if it could speak, it would be able to tell more stories than I could recount.

    1. You were correct in class today! Many people have these small artifacts, including me :)

  2. Whatever branch of The Illuminati that’s running the animated film industry seems to be paid exclusively in the tears of children. As a part of my oh-so-90’s childhood, Walt Disney et al made it exceedingly clear that the death of my mother was tentatively scheduled for any given moment, that I was definitely going be separated from my loved ones, and that the torment of some anthropomorphic (and probably very racially-offensive) predatory animal was inevitable.

    The Land Before Time is the worst for me. I say “is” because the trench that movie gouged in my soul has become a thick rope of keloid: floating to the surface every time I change my sheets, forcing me to know that a part of me will always love as a child loves.

    For all that she is not, my mother is absolutely a queen. Susan worked 14-hour night shifts for literally weeks on end to make sure I never went without. It was just us in that small, unremarkable, white house that she wore herself down to provide. When I was a little girl, still too young to take care of myself, she would drop me off at my grandparents’ house every night on her way to work. 

    Although grandmother and grand-daddy were in blatant disapproval of their oldest son, they always treated me as if I had personally scaled the heavens to nestle ancient Luna within the folds of blackest suede. We watched the Land Before Time a lot.

    My eyes usually started welling with anticipatory tears during the opening credits. By the time Littlefoot’s mother would use her final breath to say “I’ll be with you, even if you can’t see me” I was always sobbing outright. Grandmother invariably wanted to fast-forward through the part that made me cry, but grand-dad listened to that tiny voice sputtering out of a ruddy face-- insisting that the tears were for beauty of the moment, and not for sadness.

    I wanted so badly to comfort my grandmother after he passed. She married him at 17, and spent half of a century in love with her high-school-sweetheart. I used a step stool to climb the side of the bed before falling into the great crater my grandfather left. I would reach out occasionally to pat her back when a sob broke through her dreams. It’s so hard to know how to console someone when you’re seven. It isn’t any easier when you’re twenty.

    It was about a month before I could go back to the bedroom they had painted pink for me. I slid my arm into the pillow case as I was falling asleep (as I still often do) and pulled out a foreign object. I looked down at a crumpled piece of notepad paper, with the name of the hardware store he worked at emblazoned across the top. Grand-daddy’s shaky old chicken scratch had been there waiting for me to read it:


“I’ll be with you, even if you cant see me.”

    Then, I thought my grandfather had gotten a pass from the afterlife to leave me that note. Now, I realize that he knew he was dying long before they pulled me out of school to tell me he was gone.

    I believe that he’s with me even though I can’t see him.
    I believe that he’s an old piece of notepad paper, long-since laminated, that I keep in my pillow case. 

    Tonight I cry for sadness, and not for beauty.

    1. This is such a moving story, and your grandmother and grandfather's love sounds so authentic.

    2. You bring your childhood and your grandparents to life so beautifully. This is a story of tenderness and care.

  3. I have been pushed and
    poked and
    prodded and
    pushed and
    pushed to go to McDonald’s today. Although I hate the blindingly
    bright reds and yellows of this all-
    American establishment, I am sick of listening to this shit. I volunteer to drive in order to stifle the sufferings of my
    strong-willed friends.
    I pull into the
    place, urging the others to vacate my car so we can leave as quickly as we have come. They drag me down into the
    depths of the underworld—into McDonald’s. “Why is it so important to be here this minute?” I question, hoping for an answer on this
    As soon as I step out of the entrance and into the restaurant, I am given my answer. I see a spine chilling,
    My nemesis.
    My worst fear.
    Ronald McDonald is here.
    My friends keel over laughing, while I cry for comfort.
    Those assholes.

    I believe McDonald’s is a synonym for hell.

    1. Your reflection is funny and chilling, both. Like you, I would use choice language if I was dragged to McDonalds by friends. Or anyone.

  4. She sits at the edge of her subway seat: a winter bumblebee poised on plastic. Her tote tells a tale of what was once inside: “Fancy Select Pumpkins.” She is the sleepy woman featured in a youtube video titled “HOTDOG VS SLEEPY WOMEN WTF i cant stop LAUGHING.” I really couldn’t. The hotdog clearly won.

    I couldn’t stop laughing
    ...because I could feel the sleepy woman fading as she raised the hotdog to her lips,
    ...because the bun matched her yellow bumblebee stripe,
    ...because my head drooped with hers, on a moving subway, while she tried to eat,
    ...because she collected her dinner from the subway floor after dropping it,
    ...because I have woken with a mouth still half-full of food hours after taking the last bite,
    ...because I, too, would collect, from the floor, a hotdog dropped in slumber and winter slush.

    Our late-night heads hit pillows still chewing the last bites of pan-fried hotdogs. We did this once, twice, two, three hundred times like clockwork. Precooked, hotdogs need only heat and a sleeping bag of bread. Up late, the four of us follow tubed meat, a pied piper for our childhood dreams.

    I believe in hotdogs,
    ...and a set of siblings with psychosomatic somnambulance.

    1. I am glad you do not hate your sister.

  5. I believe in forgiving people, even if they never apologize. I believe this, because sometimes, it’s not that you don’t want to apologize, but it’s that you can’t find the right words to apologize.

    And I believe this, because I’m an indecisive person. Now, that’s not something I believe in, that’s something that I know as a fact to be true. Oh, you want to go to the movies? Sure, but you have to pick the movie… Every. Single. Time. If you don’t, we can’t go, because I promise you I won’t decide. It has literally happened before, which is kind of pitiful. I’m indecisive, and I can’t think of the right words to say to someone when I try to apologize. Really, is there even a “right” way to do anything? I digress.

    I believe that it is hard to think of what you want to say, how to say it, when to say it, and if you should even say anything at all. And because of that, I believe it is okay to forgive people who have wronged me, before I even think they’re considering thinking about maybe apologizing to me.

    But I also believe that sometimes, what they’ve done can’t be forgiven, even with an apology.

    1. You are not afraid to reveal things about yourself that many would be shy to admit. I like this about your reflections. I also like how you catch yourself and say "I digress"....

  6. These past two weeks have flown by. I keep telling myself that I will do it tomorrow, but I always find excuses. I couldn’t yesterday because I had to work until late… and the day before that was a paper… and then of course there was the New York trip… and so on. I mean – it would only take me thirty minutes. This wouldn’t be such a problem if I liked a continuous smell of onions and I didn’t desire to cook dinner every night.

    I hate washing dishes – I really do. The water pressure in our apartment is non-existent, my hands turn to prunes, and I simply dislike standing over the sink for a period of time. I make up excuses: I can’t clean dishes right now because the living room is untidy, or the bathroom needs scrubbing, or my bed needs straightening. Ironically, when my dishes are in their most dismal state, the rest of the apartment is quite spiffy.

    Dirty dishes are the gorilla in the apartment. I swear, my next apartment WILL have a dishwasher.

    I believe in dishwashers and the sanity they provide.

    Ps) I broke down and washed (all) my dishes yesterday… gross.

    1. I also hate washing dishes!

    2. This is such a funny reflection. I had no idea what your belief in it was--not until the end. I like that.

  7. It takes half a flight to pin down the smell of hair scalded a deep menstrual red by chemicals: my mother visiting my first cousin’s wife’s hair salon for her seasonal treatments. Though July is no time for black-and-white posturing, my mother appraises the checkered interior and states her approval. She finds elegance here: black and white her favorite colors, easy to match too. Four women droop against striped walls, waiting for treatments while sweat gathers in armpits overpowered by fumes of ammonia.

    ......Years later I select pomegranate: palm trees, tattoo shops, and old yoga mats line a board walk I now call home.

    First, my mother had flaming hair, the color of young women willing to risk gossip. In time, she became blond, adding a few strands of new color at each black-and-white visit. Once Communism fell and we got cable, she bought jeans and went back to red. Red made her feel reckless: a new attitude for a divorcee with a young daughter.

    ......Years later, I rub aloe, borage, and shea butter into elbows and knees thirsty for ocean air. The drumming under my window gets louder as the man raises milky eyes to the sun.

    Mid-flight I finally figure it out: the dark-red smell belongs to a woman two seats to the left. She presses a black keypad rapidly, chasing a dream to Miami, Chicago or Philadelphia: Thank you for flying with US Air. No good place to get your hair done here, she tells someone on the other, invisible end. I wonder what her no-good place here looks like, whether it has white flower pots against black stripes: a backdrop for four women talking about July heat.

    ......The man welcomes passers-by to the Hotel California while I breathe red pomegranate in.

    I believe in the smells of the past.

    1. This is beautiful. I was seriously contemplating writing about the smell of growing up in the woods-dead leaves and dirt. Its amazing how emotionally evocative smell is.

    2. I enjoy the use of "red" throughout this piece.

  8. *Alarm goes off* 8:00 a.m.
    Lay there half-awake for 10 minutes.
    Look at the time; Realize I have 10 minutes before I need to leave for class.
    Frantically jump out of bed.
    Brush teeth; forget to brush hair.
    8:25 a.m.
    Run-Walk to class.
    8:32 a.m. arrive to class.
    9:30 a.m.
    Walk into sculpture class.
    Look at giant rock.
    Wonder how I’m going to make it into a non-rock shape.
    Defeat falls over me.
    Get over it.
    Complain to Stevie.
    Get made fun of by Kurt.
    Feelings hurt; hide pain.
    11:20 a.m.
    Walk back to the room.
    Eat everything.
    Walk to caf; eat more.
    12:30 p.m.
    Yoga attempt in room.
    1:30 p.m.; Painting.
    Try to come up with creative idea for next painting.
    Roll with it.
    3:30 p.m.; Tennis practice.
    Run as little as possible in order to hit the ball back.
    Get yelled at by coach for not running.
    5 p.m.; Back in dorm room.
    Pretend to do homework for an hour.
    Get nothing done.
    6:00 p.m.; Dinner in the caf with Steve.
    Eat everything.
    Walk back to room; complain about eating everything.
    Lay on futon until 7.
    Harass neighbors.
    10:00 p.m.; Friends come over; stay past their visiting hours.
    Eat some more.
    12:30 p.m.; Make friends leave.
    Struggle to get in bed.
    Promise myself I won’t eat as much tomorrow.
    Lie to self.
    1:00 p.m.; Fall asleep.
    Repeat next Monday.

    I believe in solid routine.

    1. I love this reflection, Savanna! It is so structured, so funny, so self-revealing. Great job!

  9. Any time that I have somewhere to be, and more specifically, anytime I have somewhere to walk, I make a point to set out at least 10 minutes early. This is not because I take great pleasure in being early or punctual; I hate when people are anal about timeliness. It is simply because I am slow. Everything about me moves at a pace that glaciers and tortoises must surely find humor in. Sometimes I feel as if I exist on a different plane, where air is made of gelatin and invisible walls are common place. I see people darting past me, like Jesus bugs skating deftly across the surface of a pond. At other times I blame it on my body. At 5 feet 8 inches, I am usually dwarfed by my peers and their spindly long legs (not to point any fingers, but Garret Gabriel), which have the supernatural ability of moving 20 yards with each pace. Being slow (and short) used to bother me, especially when traveling with groups of friends, but I realized that my slowness had endowed me with a compensatory ability that none of my long legged friends seemed to have. I noticed things. Not in the metaphorical, righteous “I see things that others aren’t aware of” sense, but in the physical realm. This is what is mean: when the bottle of bubbles 15 feet ahead on the sidewalk isn’t a blur of color as you streak past, but a distant landmark rising out of the mist that slowly grows larger and more defined over the eternity of the small distance between it and you, you are noticing things. And, you have the chance to take these free bubbles that all the long leggers were too quick to notice.
    I believe in free bubbles.

    1. What a fun reflection! I had no idea where you were going. I thought surely you were going to end up with an ode to long legs :)

  10. When I was a child, around age 10 or so, my family decided that it would be best to move from coastal, sunny, humid, and bug-ridden Sarasota Florida back to their home of Kentucky. Being Ten years old i didn't know a whole lot about the world or what it meant to move away from a place that you've lived your entire life. So we pack up the entire house, say good-bye to all my friends. watch as my mom and my two younger brothers leave to head to Kentucky while my Dad and I finish up the last few things that need to be done. And as the van is packed and the house is empty my dad turns to me and says, "Now say bye to the house." and then walks out.

    Up to this point I hadn't shed a single tear, but as I try and force out the word "bye" the tears come. and so i walk out of the house and follow my dad to the van. curl up in the back seat and watch tv on a little 3 inch screen. Eventually I calmed myself down, and fell into a deep sleep waking up only for food. When i got to Kentucky I was scared. i didn't know what was going to happen but it all seemed to work out.

    Now looking back, i'm glad for the move. If i had stayed in Florida I may have been more successful, I was on track to go to a private High School that all my other friends went to, I may not have had to spend 9 years trying to survive the hell that is a low funded public school in the middle of Kentucky. But I also wouldn't be the person that I am today, I wouldn't have met the wonderful people that grace my life today.

    Because of this I believe that you should never be scared to go to new places or try new things. You never know how much you'll thank yourself for it down the road.

  11. There is a reason why tennis is played indoors once autumn bumps into winter.

    Imagine searching the court’s premises for a mid-sized, perfectly smooth rock. Set your feet in place, toss the rock vertical, and serve. The rock refuses to bounce, pitifully falling a few feet in front of your own correctly positioned ones. If you were to replace that rock with a perfectly new, yet frozen, tennis ball, the result would be the same.

    My 87-year-old grandfather plays tennis every day. He even purchased four tennis courts on the bank of the Kentucky River so he would never have to fight for time on a public court. Besides my grandmother, tennis is his life’s love, and he has made it his personal priority to ensure that this sport runs through every member of his family’s blood. He has done a good job of it too.

    It was a colder day in early December when my father received a phone call. After hanging up, my brother and I were instructed to dress in warm clothes and grab our tennis rackets and shoes. We knew the procedure. Dad grabbed the basket of tennis balls while Brian and I grabbed the tube socks we had cut on either end to keep our hands warm without wearing slippery gloves. We arrived at papa’s courts, pulled the basket of tennis balls out of the trunk and walked around the corner of the utility shack papa had built along with the courts years before. There, papa was crouched next to a crock-pot plugged into the shack. Inside were about 6 tennis balls, cooking. He looked up at his audience, smiled, and held out his hand for 6 more to replace the finished ones. We walked out onto the court with the heated tennis balls in our pockets. Clumps of snow fell as we began our rhythm of back and forth.

    I believe in loving something so much that you will use tube socks and crock-pots to continue the game.

    1. Wow, what a beautiful reflection. I hope you will consider giving it to your grandfather. He deserves it.

  12. St. Patrick’s Pilgrimage on Lent’s First Sabbath

    Side B:

    V. 7:40 am

    It was then that I saw my reflection.

    Who mimicked back, with a grave stare from the cataract black of an unlit screen. And there I stood solemnly, outside a repair shop’s storefront window⎯ to behold that boot polished body, broadcasted onto television glass like some cadaverous spectacle, for whom my eyes did cut open and embalm with the pulp of departed penance, and pre-packaged prudence, while my ears did leak with the robotic spittle of much cruder psalms.

    And it was there that my thoughts did shunt, from my formaldehyde mind into the blackness of the box, til’ hell’s angels did find that figure dead⎯frocked and forsaken. And so the sonic wave eulogy began to his electric funeral, as he was loaded into the socket of a hardwired casket, then into a circuital hearse, that traveled up the long cord to a telegenic plot.

    “Oh, jolted man in the mirror,” whose soul got caught in the claws of a mechanical Malacoda⎯while I just kept walking on. And with each stride I kept watch, as storm clouds gathered for the repair shop’s opening, and flashes became brilliant in that television sky.

    “Oh, cold, dead man of the mirror,“ who I left buried in the screen under a snowfall of static, and continued toward the steam-heat steeples and opiate alters of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

    Think⎯Hear⎯Step⎯Repeat⎯Think⎯Hear⎯Step⎯Repeat⎯Think⎯Hear⎯ Step⎯

    Repeat: “Evil souls fall to hell, ever trapped in burning cells.”

  13. VI. 7:45 am

    It was then that I saw the cathedral.

    Whose skeletal frame frayed out from a boundless block of svelte hotels and chic high-rises, like an antique sharps box stuck between towering travel totes, slick glass satchels, and gigantic steel suitcases in the conveyor belt carousel skyline.

    And it was then that I knew there was no return, the church’s post-card appeal, spooned out by the real, and the daunting sight of it did spike at my methanol mind, heretical thoughts of church and religion. But there I was ⎯sick and sour, just few blocks from joining the other fools, jonesing for that Abraham sandwich-bag of sweet taste, loaded into a breadline of creed bangers, Jesus junkies, and pious pincushions.

    Oh, broken deadly pin, which could let the divine intervene through wicked green veins, if I could only climb up to the ruins of that great catholic stupa ⎯and so I just kept walking on. And with each stride I kept watch, as ailing arms were fixed firm in a tourniquet of scaffolding, strung up by the indulgences of donors, their drip-bags gorged with brick gum stupor

    Oh, sullen and deadly pin, whose prick could cure my sleepwalking sins, and so I did turn on my saintly side from my secular hospital cot, and pushed in the stained glass for a hot shot of catholic holiness. And as the cathedral soared higher and higher, its kaleidoscope colors became brighter and brighter, til’ my body was eclipsed in the needling eyes of its towered twin spires.

    Push⎯Pin⎯Shoot⎯Repeat⎯Push⎯Pin⎯Shoot⎯Repeat⎯Push⎯Pin⎯ Shoot⎯

    Repeat: “Push the needle in, face death's sickly grin.”

  14. VII. 7:52 am

    It was then that I saw the stairway.


    Deep breaths, slow and verminous


    A salad of lotus feet, planted on granite steps


    Smelling the stew of lung, heart, feet, tail borsht

    Clum⎯Boo⎯ Bumb⎯Bam⎯Bash⎯Bang⎯Boom

    Pinching the nose, and dreaming of pure vegetable kingdoms






    Repeat: “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things⎯they will meet their end together,"

  15. VIII. 8:00 am

    It was then that I saw the preist.

    Whose robe did cloak the outline his mortal wings like grape colored drapes in the windowpane of Rapunzel’s tower. Inside that cathedral, the priest did gain his flight, and floated from his fox-trap pulpit, while spinning golden looms of folklore falsities like lassos held by Herculean hands. Oh yeah, and as he spoke, I noticed his waxy wings did poke from his plum-pit dress to lift the fabric high, showing is bean stock feet, still planted to the marble floor.

    As he versed his nitroglycerine shrieks⎯loud and lacquered, I saw him sprinkle a rhumb-line of crumbs through labyrinthine caves of scripture, fooling those forlorn folks whose spirits got lost, following that fantastic fault-line of catholic faith, loaded with sacred sanctimony, redemptive riddles, and shape-shifting psalms.

    Oh withholding man of god, who swindled their souls with fanciful fraud⎯while I just kept walking on. And with each stride I kept watch, as he led the poor poppers through the cosmic chorography of chimerical consecration.

    Oh beholden man of god, who spoke of sacrifice and charity with a charlatan’s charm, while baskets did fly down the aisles on a heavenly sprocket, til’ Lent only meant that which was left in their pockets.


    Repeat: “Yeah, fairies wear boots and you gotta’ believe me,”

  16. Addendum. 9:00 am

    It was then that I saw the exit

    Whose door led you right past the handshaking preist, though the gift shop filled with mothered and merry knick-knacks, cereal-box rosaries, and screen-printed apostle baseball cards. I walked right through the doors and down those same rhythmic stairs, and started my journey back towards the hotel. I walked til the cathedral was as big as a shoebox in my fleeting sight and stepped past that same repair shop, whose television now showed Colgate ads and B-list celebrities. I went down to the station, now covered in yellow tape that prohibited me to enter. From the station there on Lexington and 63rd I now had an epic journey to travel as that Iron Man, now had his revenge.

    As so I just kept walking on. And with each stride I kept thinking of that sermon, and the forty blocks I walked, became like the forty days in the Judean desert and I began to reflect on what I had seen. I saw fairies wear boots in the pulpit, a rat salad laid out on that perilous staircase, a hand of doom reaching out from the transept arms of the cathedral, an electric funeral in the glass of a display model television, an iron man in the subway station, a planet caravan in my cigarette pack, paranoia in a cell phone screen, as well as war pigs right outside my hotel door. No, I didn’t become one with St. Patrick, and I didn’t gain a fresh perspective on religion, and the cathedral or service didn’t really give me anything new to believe in.

    However, I can say wholeheartedly that I do believe in Black Sabbath