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, March 21, 2013

This I believe #9

Belief: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence.

You know what to do.


  1. I had my first shot of tequila that night followed by my second, third and fourth. Engaging in the same ritual each time. Salt. Shot. Lemon. Salt. Shot. Lemon. Salt. Shot. Lemon. Salt. Shot. Lemon.

    If I was going to actually follow through with my plan with a clean conscience I couldn’t be sober. I also probably wouldn’t have had the guts to do it either, if I’m being totally honest. However, even sober I had this tiny little inkling I knew I could easily fulfill here and only here. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time. My one chance at almost teen rebellion. I was on my own, in a foreign country, with people I knew I would probably never see again and wouldn’t be judged for my actions. It was also our trips last night on the Greek Islands. We would be returning to Athens in the morning and then head to Delphi and Olympia in the subsequent days. This island lifestyle needed to be celebrated, from the casual days of shorts and bikini tops, sundresses, and tan lines to the baklava, gelato, and snorkeling. It was all ending tomorrow.

    Once the gang was beginning to wind down for the night, and I knew everyone was about to head in, I got the courage to mention it.

    “Anyone want to go skinny dipping??”

    Glances were exchanged around the circle.

    The response was instant.

    Everyone suddenly got up from their beach chairs and started running down the beach, clothes thrown everywhere along it. I followed the path of clothes until they stopped and saw everyone starting to run into the water, splashing the water with their flailing arms and screaming. The moonlight and the water the only things touching them. It was my idea. So I took my breath and my sundress was thrown in the sand. I ran into the warm water along with everyone else. We just stood neck deep in the water splashing, laughing and swimming. I felt alive.

    I believe in rebellious, spontaneous, tipsy life happenings.

    1. I am glad you decided to share this! It sounds like a beautiful experience. (Plus, skinny-dipping is great).

    2. I like your belief, Kristina. And I wonder if this belief diminishes as we age and become even more cautious, more predictable.

  2. I believe American culture is corrupted by a sickness. The sickness is rape. As I read of yet another rape case, my hands shake and my stomach turns. Steubenville’s misfortune has become nationally known, and many are sympathizing with the rapists. I read about this case Monday, and then happened to see the video that the young woman saw, giving her some of the details of what happened to her when she was unconscious from drinking.

    I believe that young women should be able to drink without fear of being raped, photographed naked, and classmates making “hilarious” videos saying that she is “so raped,” “dead as a doornail,” and “deader than O.J.’s wife.” These young men behaved absolutely disgustingly. I abhor them, the people that have taken their side, and the people that watched this rape happen and did nothing to intervene.

    I believe that young women should never wake up naked and alone, wondering how they ended up that way, only to have the gaps filled in by photos and videos shared to all of social media so that their classmates can see. Young women should never have to wake up to have shame thrust upon them at NO fault of their own.

    I believe that young women should be able to openly charge her rapists without two of her female friends calling her a liar. Has this young woman not gone through enough? Is it not enough that she was publicly violated and broadcasted nationally? Her friends must betray her and join the slew of people clawing at women’s rights?

    I believe that the public should not sympathize with the young men committing these atrocious crimes, feeling sorry that their futures are lost. These “star athletes” do not deserve sympathy, or their coaches’ protection. In fact, they should have been tried as adults, and it is appalling that female media correspondents’ are choking with emotion over the “heartfelt apologies” of the rapists. Really?

    I believe our culture has to change. It is never the victim’s fault. No one asks to be raped. Something must be done. I wish that every person could realize it is our culture that creates an environment for violence against women. Why aren’t more angry?

    1. I wonder what it would take to make enough people angry about rape so that we would collectively change what you call a culture of rape, a culture that all of us participate in, whether we wish to or not. Yours is a powerful statement.

  3. I could still smell her perfume on my hands and clothes as I arrived home and unlocked the door—being quiet and careful not to wake my wife or children. Recalling our conversation at the bar and her casually mentioning that she had a four year old child at home too, I brought to mind the embarrassing cut of her dress. Divine intervention (or possibly 3M adhesive) managed to keep her generous cleavage inside the thin, silky cloth that appeared to be little more than an invitation for all of the men at the bar to stare directly at her chest. I was pleased that she had remembered me as it had been a few years since our last encounter. Chelsea is clearly a favorite of the regulars and I know that a roomful of eyes followed my interaction with her in that darkened corner of the room.

    I enjoyed a full evening of drinking, dancing and bawdy language—including a hilarious bit about boobs and discussions of sexual acts which outside of this one room would have existed somewhere between inappropriate and vile. Four or five women in the bar had poured themselves into tight leather and sequins in an effort to raise the level of testosterone to a near boil, and they garnished themselves expertly with feathers which waved gracefully against the rolling wall of synthetic smoke puffing from a machine on the floor.

    One of these women, Alyssa, unapologetically told a close friend of mine that she wanted to fuck me while I stood no more then two feet away. Alyssa spoke intentionally loud to be certain that I would hear her. Ten other people probably heard her as well. Moments later she grabbed the microphone from the edge of the stage and following a brief (but insincere) apology for drinking too much offered praise and appreciation for a post-operative transsexual in the room. Thunderous applause rose without a single laugh as everyone shared in this spontaneous moment of appreciation for a man who had recently cast biology aside to find a more honest version of himself. I believe that at this moment the entire room stood behind her/his decision no matter how statistically unusual or culturally taboo it truly was.

    I believe in the noticeably flawed women who chose to wear their outfits too tight and who made no excuses about the overt sexuality of their dancing. These same women spoke with the kind of sexually aggressive language that is culturally defined as a man’s playground. Challenging each other in an escalating match of suggested promiscuity and titillation they all found themselves together at the end of the night—removing their eyelashes, fingernails and duct tape.

    1. The last paragraph is really powerful, and I enjoy that several of us commented on gender this week.

    2. Your essay captures beautifully the spirit of the night you describe. Like Johnna, I am glad that so many of us were thinking about gender issues last week.

  4. I went to Laguna Beach for spring break. I didn’t get wild, and I didn’t go with friends. I went with my dad, which is who I usually have the most fun with anyways, because he had a seminar there. I met another judge there, he was from Pennsylvania. His name was Jack, but I can’t remember his last name. I talked to him for hours, about every little thing about my life and his. In that short amount of time, I considered him my best friend on the trip.

    Before I got ready to leave with my dad, he said, “Oh, Sara! Wait a minute!” I walked back to the table, expecting I had left my phone or wallet on accident. Instead, the cute old man had a sweet, excited smile stretched across his face. He said, “This whole time we’ve been talking, I’ve been trying to remember the name of this song that reminds me of you! I could only get the tune at first, but now I remember it! You have to go listen to Sara Smile.” I promised I would, and I did. I found it on YouTube, it’s by Hall & Oates.

    And as I’m writing this, I’ve been listening to Sara Smile on repeat, just because it reminds me of Jack, and of course, because it makes me smile.

    I believe in smiling. I also believe you find the most genuine friends in the most unexpected places.

    1. I like how your story ends with a belief that I could not predict while reading your essay. Like you, I believe in smiling.

  5. When I wake in the night, a member of the undead, a creature incapable of logic or emotion, you are there to take me in, chase away the monsters, and nurse me back to health.
    When my feet are throbbing , my ankles threaten to give way, and the weight of the day becomes too much for my poor soul to handle, you are there to lift my load and carry me to respite.
    When I feel indestructible, 12 feet tall and on top of my shit, you are there to say yeah man, you are on. your. shit.
    When I feel like dancing and basking in the glow of the sun, you are my dancing partner.
    When I am confused, angry at the world and frustrated with life, you are there to cool me down and set me back on track.
    When I feel guilty for all the times I turn to you in my life, you are there to comfort me and remind me that with you, there is never any need to feel guilty.
    I believe in vanilla orange swirl ice cream.

  6. My younger brother and I were best friends for the majority of my childhood. We were hyper children with too much curiosity and too much time. For years, our identities were wound around being the annoying younger siblings to our older sister… who, as you could imagine, provided all sorts of inspiration for pranks.

    One particularly sunny afternoon, Mason and I decided to make up another one of our games. They usually involved some sort of stunt or daring (or double-dog-daring) and if they happened to irritate our sister, we’d get bonus points.

    For the longest time, we sat on the steps of the back porch and tried our hardest to think of a new daring game. Eventually, I noticed a movement in the grass and exclaimed, “A snake!”

    To which Mason enthusiastically yelled, “Where?” Needless to say, our game became a race to catch a snake bare-handed (and to maybe put it in our sister’s bed). We searched and searched for our snakes and checked in likely places they’d be hiding in this heat: under the porch (though that was a scary dark place, so we didn’t check far), in the rose bush garden, the fence-line trees…

    The last place I checked was the row of round hay bales next to our petite corn field. Climbing on top of a bale was when I saw the slight movement in the grass again. I was quick to act and the poor creature was slow to respond. I’ve never touched a snake until that moment. With cat-like stealth, I approached quietly and struck quickly. I grabbed the small green gardener snake behind the head like I’ve been told. To my surprise, it quickly wound its body around my wrist. I shrieked, let go of its head, and launched the snake into the corn field with all my might.

    To this day, my brother has never stopped calling me a liar.

    I never entered that corn field again.
    I believe in never touching a snake again, ever.

  7. Floating through a hazy sea of half remembered faces

    Trying to remember all the random, twisted places

    Where I am and where I've been are swirling together in my mind

    Confusing and inseperable, running together and melding into one

    Like flipping through the channels watching old reruns

    Trying to pull myself out of my catatonic state

    Rolling and yawning trying to get my brain to wake

    Thinking on the images my subconscious decides to make

    Do they have meaning or are they simply fantastical creations from creativity that forgot to turn itself off

    I may never know, but I'll enjoy them all the same

    I believe in basking in the glow of your after dream reverie.

    1. After-dream reveries. You must have time to lie in bed :). I enjoyed reading your poem.

  8. My husband insists it’s jargon, it’s just as well I can’t translate it in Bulgarian.

    But it makes talking about gender with my mother near impossible, which seems like a problem since she is the one who taught me proper eating etiquette.

    I realized that proper eating etiquette is context specific (“More jargon,” I can hear my husband remark) three months after leaving Bulgaria for my longest trip abroad. Sitting down for dinner with my American host family near Lake Michigan, I was served a bowl of steaming broccoli soup: the first bowl to arrive at the table. My Bulgarian upbringing swiftly rose to the surface. I pointed out that the oldest man should be served first, before the younger men got their soup, certainly before the oldest woman received her own bowl of cheese-smothered broccoli, etc. I did this even though I expected my hosts knew the right order, that their lapse was a momentary distraction.

    I have told this story many times since that broccoli-marked night: that was the moment I became aware of the social backwardness of my country, of my own socialization. I consider the broccoli-soup dinner the beginning of my transformation into a resolute feminist. I remember nothing about the conversation that must have followed my list.

    Years later, I teach courses that examine categories of race, gender, and sexuality as constructed, not natural, not innate, not unchangeable. Gender is one way in which people are made less free, I caution my students. I defy identity-based stereotypes at all times. For instance, I scandalize doting mothers by declaring that I can’t wait for my children—currently ages 3 and 6—to go to college so I am unshackled from their persistent needs. It is the truth and I dish it out freely.

    But I have no way of telling my mother that I don’t live for my children, that such expectations are made and maintained in order to keep women too busy to question, too tired to revolt. “Has Elena lost a tooth yet?”, my mother asks on the phone. I launch into a story about tooth fairies and dimes.

    I believe in knowing words that can stop dragons in mid-air. Once the dragon falls to the ground, shoot jargon-covered arrows into its wings.

    1. I would like to hear more about gender in Bulgaria.

    2. Johnna, you may want to run as far away from Bulgaria as you possibly can if you hear more about gender in it. That is, you may want to run all the way to KY. I did :)


  9. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if some fervently deterministic omniscience with a flowing white beard really was inhabiting the clouds all along? Maybe he/she/they/it is some sort of celestial sadist, with nothing better to do than straddle cumulo-nimbi and dream of ways to inject tragedy into the heroism of temporary sentience. I don’t know how the trashy novella I’m living will end. I would like to think I’m the anti-hero, but it seems more likely that my saga is one of comedic relief.
    I doubt that my grandmother clears five-feet tall. Her name used to be Annie-Leona, but she ripped off her roots when she became a professor. Now it’s simply “Dr. Wiles,” or “Anne” if she’s feeling particularly cuddly. My mother often tells me that we’re just alike, I often laugh uncomfortably as my blood boils.

    I believe she is sexist, racist, elitist, and a signet of everything I am ethically opposed to. 

    I believe that she is the only person I know who can afford what little my scholarships do not cover.

    I believe that I will be playing nice with ignorance for the rest of my life.


I believe that Anne is my literary foil.

  10. Carnival was upon us, a blinding burst of confetti to our senses, raining down, painting our shoulders in metallic. A drunken, squinting, smiling train ride to Sitges bound us together, strangers only minutes before. Toasting our new friendship, I allowed Alejandro into my life. He was meant to be temporary, a partner for one night of celebratory rowdiness in streets full of color and costume. But our hearts became full with each other’s friendship and one night was not enough, five months was not enough.

    On the day we said goodbye we rode bikes. Our first stop was Ciutedella Park and we smiled at each other under the Arc de Triomf. We continued into Ciutedella, one big heart beating Utkatasana, Vrkasana, and Dhyana. We smothered our favorite spot with a blanket and laid down like a deck of cards, my head resting on his rising and falling belly.

    I left the next day. And although I was a pack-mule laden with months of clothing, gifts, and memories, it was a simple white envelope that weighed me down the most. The instructions demanded that I must wait until the second hour of my flight to open. The envelope found its uncomfortable home, clutched within a white-knuckled hand, unwilling to defy a friend’s wishes.

    I am looking at the photograph now, stuck to a corkboard next to nana and underneath mom in her wedding gown. His forearm disappears into the edges, extending the camera enough to capture both of us in frame. I am so glad we gave each other a chance, and allowed ourselves such a friendship. Too many miles separate Mexico City and Lexington.

    Vulnerability means so much to me. To tell yourself, your friend, your enemy what is in your heart; such a rare act of bravery warms me like a soft kiss on the temple, a long awaited embrace after months of separation. Vulnerability is throwing oneself from the cliff of comfort, and my response is one of admiration for those willing souls. I want to be one of the willing.

    1. I love every time I've heard about Alejandro, but this is exceptionally beautiful. Be one of the willing! (when you're ready hehe)

  11. I believe in us. Because I understand how you could be falling for someone else, because he makes me flirt like "some amorous courter" myself,
    The way he sobers me up by blinking into my gaze or the way he makes me act just like a child again, crushing and tripping, over and over.
    And I'm worried that the chase might be the best part,
    The speckled compliments,
    The elbows sliding into one another between snows
    So naturally, I'm afraid ill lose this game as well.

    I didn't like it when you tickled my back
    Because it felt like a slur
    Or slipping your arm past me
    was just too obvious
    As if you were barking at my from a 94 mustang speeding across broadway
    And your hair, if you had any at all, would be slicked back tight,
    shades on
    Dice dangling
    Music jumping through the frame
    because that's what they say about Arabs anyway