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 4, 2013

This I believe #11

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  1. The high school football coach trudged to the front of the overcrowded room in the funeral home. He wiped his eyes and blew his nose into a crumpled tissue. The sweltering summer heat seemed to expand the raw grief, making the memorial service difficult to endure. It was silent, with the exception of stifled sobs. Pain seeped through each person’s damp summer skin with every passing moment. The tragic nature of the man and woman’s deaths left the survivors searching for answers and for healing.
    He began, “Everyone falls short of the glory of God. Everyone.”
    The older of the two young men in the front wrapped his arm around his little brother’s shoulders. He assumed responsibility of the parental figure now, even though he just recently graduated high school. The pair looked exhausted—the black half moons under their sunken eyes stood out like sore thumbs. Because their mom had an affair, their father shot her in the local hospital parking lot. And then he shot himself.
    All of the people in this room shared one commonality. Every person’s aching heart shattered for the loss of the young men. No one suspected such hatred between their parents. They were a seemingly “normal” family, if normal is even a thing.
    The football Coach spoke about the love that Michael and Naomi possessed for their children. He exclaimed, “They were always talking about those boys!” He sat down, sniffling again as he wiped his already tear-streaked face. A song began to play. It is not a normal funeral musical selection. Then again, nothing about these circumstances is normal. Somehow, the song is appropriate in a horrific way. It is a down-home in the holler country song, similar to the one horse town nature of shooting your wife and then yourself.
    The two will seek truth, and they will not find it. They will yearn for an explanation, and never discover why this happened. They will try to trust, and only produce lack thereof.
    The song snapped the young men in the front row back to reality. They will not be victimized. The pair will unite and rise from the ashes. I believe in small town resilience.

    1. A beautiful narrative about a terrible event that is also terribly sad.

  2. I went to the eye doctor. As some of you may already know, this was an appointment I’d been dreading for literally months.

    I go in, sit down. They called me to the check-in desk to fill out updated paper work, because the last time I was at Dr. Huffman’s office was in middle school, when after a dance competition, a piece of glitter from this horrid eye shadow cut my eye. Then one of the assistants called my name, and I walked back into a small room. This is the point where I wish I could have turned around, and left the building screaming. Recently, I have been referring to this point in my life as “The Walk of Death”. They made me read the letters that, coincidentally, progressively got smaller just as I progressively got slower to read them. They dilated my pupils, and my vision got blurry. I couldn’t see, and I just found myself laughing hysterically (I laughed at this even more later on, when I looked back at the pictures I took of myself to see how big my pupils were). The eye doctor came in to examine me, after much anticipation. I had forgotten how nice he was, even if he did end up telling me to buy glasses.

    I believe in astigmatisms. I believe in negative 1 vision. I believe in dilated pupils.

    I believe in all this, because I have it.

  3. I believe in the power of sleep.

    Night falls on the daytime of my thoughts without warning. In bed and throttled by wool, I convert its itch and scratchy surface to blades of grass and pine needles: used to lay another bed inside my dreams.

    The solemn sough of my nocturnal forest dissolves. Distinct voices emerge: birds, cicadas, rattling chain-link fence, car doors slamming shut. There are no fences visible from my mattress of pine. No cars idle nearby. Incongruity releases the throttle: my eyes breathe morning light as I awake in the backyard.

    Eyes closed, my heart hangs: I live full days between beats. Suffocating under feathers, dry air takes me to the beach. The sun sets and spills: sticky light on a white dress. It dries clipped to a braided line.

    Breeze turns to gale. Softly flapping sleeves flail, shoulders pull free from pins. Leaping the porch rail, I lunge to save the dress from stealing wind. I crash: then peel my face from the back of a bedroom door. Her wedding dress—now knotted on the floor—a victim of my dreams.

    Hypnic twitches jerk me to consciousness. I return to physical dreams and a fitful forty winks. Told I deserve the sleep of heroes, I wonder what mask hides hypersomnia? What cape becomes a blanket when I fall to the floor, half-undressed and half-way to bed, asphyxiated by sleep?

  4. I don’t remember my first potluck experience.

    I imagine it was Jo and John who asked me to join them for a meal at a neighbor’s house, Joe wearing hand-knit wool socks and a blue sweatshirt that spells HOPE, John dressed up in cowboy boots and a checkered shirt made of colorful flannel. I imagine I felt embarrassed for having no bounty to contribute. During my first American year embarrassment visited frequently. I must have felt a touch of hope, too, that one day I would no longer be unprepared for meals shared with friends and with strangers.

    Years later, I frequent Monday potlucks at a friend’s house. Some days I talk with a graduate student from Iowa who brings strawberries on an evening when no one contributes baked sweets. Spotted instantly by the children, the strawberries go as soon as he arrives: a man in search of community. Some Mondays I look for familiarity: I talk with the fathers of kids with whom my daughter spends daycare days. The fathers bring leafy salads with roasted red peppers. We discuss grocery options and the future of street art in our beloved city. The mothers and I review politics and after-school programs. We sip the champagne brought by couples old enough to be children-free. They don’t offer advice.

    I believe in potlucks.

  5. “You’re like me” she said. “If you lived near Auschwitz you would be the revolution. You live your life by your passions. Your passion is for people. It doesn’t make your life easy, but it makes your life worth living. You’ll mean something here. You can be a change someday. ”

    That was the best compliment I have ever received to date. It happened on Monday, when my internship mentor and I were chit chatting about life. I walked out of her office beaming. I had never heard something so true before, that explained why I am the way I am. Why I take on so much and why I am so conscientious.

    On Thursday, after class I stuck around late to talk to a professor about an exam grade. For the past two exams I have been 1 point from my goal grade. 89’s are the most infuriating grades EVER. Can you just have mercy and give me 1 measly point??

    It took me a couple days to get past being angry but, I finally got the nerve to ask

    “What can I do? I know I’m changing answers
    from right to wrong last minute. Why am I doing that? Why am I talking myself out of it?”

    “Because you want to be right, because you care, because you are conscientious. It’s not a bad thing. Spin it positive; don’t be so hard on yourself”

    Being conscientious has its pro’s and its con’s. On one hand I’m the type of person who is aware and considerate, but at the same time I easily beat myself up for not meeting my own or others expectations. I always want to be the best that I can be, and sometimes that takes realizing I can’t do everything perfectly.

    I believe that it’s better to conscientious than not. I would rather live my life caring than not. Even though it does make life harder, I think it is what makes life worth living. No matter what it is that you love and believe in. Keep on believing in it. Keep on living for it.

    1. Absolutely. I agree with you 100%, Kristina .

  6. In high school, I met a guy online sometime between the shift from Myspace to the Facebook hype. At that time, my parents’ perceptions of ‘meeting strangers’ through the internet was limited to what they gathered from horrific stories from CNN of girls getting abducted (or worse) when sneaking off to meet their ‘friend’ in person. They didn’t approve of me spending hours on the phone and chatting online with a guy I’ve never met in person.

    But this guy was different… we had never intended to meet.

    Zach is an interesting character. He’s a year older than me and in high school he was hospitalized for the entirety of a year due to starvation. You see, his esophagus doesn’t work remotely close to how it should. Even drinking water could result in a lodging and an immediate trip to the ER. For the years I’ve known him, he feeds through injections through a medical stomach tube and has been eerily fascinated with mortality. Throughout his suffering, he boasts of how his illness is the cause of new medical developments. Our chats are always so lively and full of imaginative tales – you’d never guess by the way he talks that he has a non-curable illness. But, his aversion to people is unmatched and I never quite received a straight answer as to why he’s talked to me for so long.

    So, Zach became a pen-pal of sorts for 6 years this coming June. I’ve mailed him cards and random pieces of art over the years… I brought him back trinkets and doo-dads from Italy and Ireland.

    We never intended to meet…

    Even living within a 5 mile radius of each other for the past 4 years has not been tempting.

    And yet, a month ago, he wandered into Michaels when I was working and startled, I asked him, “What are you doing out in public?”
    He just smiled and said simply, “I just felt like I needed some air.”

    Since then, I have yet to see him again, and I don’t believe he will ever become anything less than an enigma to me.

    I believe in him… in his friendship, positivity, playfulness, seriousness, and hope.