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.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

This I Believe #5

Post them here before class on Tuesday!


  1. Last week while talking with a friend I realized how close the end is. The end of my undergraduate career. The end of my time as an active member in my sorority. The end of my time in Lexington. In four short months I will be packing up my entire life and moving six hours south to Atlanta for grad school. On Friday we got to hear Bianca’s love letter to Lexington. It again made me remember how short a time I have left in this city.

    When people describe their homes they speak of a place where they felt a certain comfort, a place where they learned about who they are and who they wanted to be. And while I would never tell my mother this, I consider Lexington my home. Not Hazard. The place where I grew up between the mountains, spending every weekend with my great-grandmother. The place where I made my first friends, had my first successes and my first mistakes. The place I couldn’t wait to get out of.

    When I think of Lexington, I think of the back roads. The ones I drive when school or life gets to be too much. The ones I get lost on and end up in new counties. I think of my University, where I learned more about myself in four years than I did in the first eighteen years of my life, where I admitted defeat to Calculus and Organic Chemistry, where I met my soul mates, all ninety of them.

    So in 104 day, on May 24th 2014, when I leave Lexington for Atlanta, there will be tears. But they will be happy ones for the time I spent in this beautiful city, the people I’ve met, and all the things I’ve learned. After all, you can always go home again.

    I believe in long Sunday drives with the windows down. I believe in liberal education. I believe in trying new things. I believe in Lexington, my home.

    1. I love it that you call Lexington your home after 4 years of living at Transy.

  2. Ever since the age of nine, I have been involved in dance. My mother enrolled me into a studio when I was in elementary school and it has been a part of my life ever since. I continued classes at this studio until graduation when I could no longer take classes. However, I always make an effort to stop by and visit whenever I return home once or twice a semester from college. Even during the summers I volunteer to work during the recitals just to be around old friends and instructors to talk about all the good times and bring back old memories.

    Dance played an extraordinary role in my life during both my childhood and adolescent years. Not only have I made lifelong friends, but I have also acquired skills and personality traits such as communication skills, confidence, selflessness, tactfulness, and a strong work ethic. As with any sport, dance has provided me with countless, irreplaceable memories, however it is much more than just a sport to me. For me, dance is a performance that may happen in front of a crowd of thousands, with a few close friends, or even in the privacy of my room. Whether it is jazz, pointe, pom, hip-hop, or any other genre, dance helps me connect to myself in a unique way that nothing else can do for me. Dance is a lifestyle that only other dancers may be able to relate to on a physical, mental, and even emotional level. I miss dance more than anything about home. The practices, road trips, competitions, recitals, and everything about it I will always miss. However, dance is something that will always be a part of me that I refuse to let go. It will always have a special place in my heart. I believe in dance. I believe in its power to inspire, motivate, and more importantly to make me a better person.

    1. It seems we have at least two dancers in our class. Maybe some dancing will be in order :)

  3. The dog originally bought for me when I was younger took up much more often with my mother. Sadie had the calm quiet loving spirit that my mother needed even when she was just a puppy. As I was looking for my independence Sadie wanted nothing more than to walk along with every step my mother took. She was a black cocker spaniel, and my mother quite fittingly often referred to her as her own shadow. Where my mom was, Sadie was. No questions asked. I tried bribing Sadie with her favorite treats, scratching behind her ear like my mom did, but alas Sadie wasn’t really mine. So when I was 15 I asked my mom if I could adopt a puppy for my birthday. To my surprise she agreed.
    We went to the local shelter the week of my birthday thinking we would just start looking, not planning to take home a puppy that day at all. As I glanced around the cages I saw what looked to be two piles of fluff. You could barely see their eyes past their multi-colored coats. They were so tiny you could fit one in each hand. One just happened to have captured my heart that day. I named her Molly and took her home that very evening.
    Molly, Mower or simply Mosey (depending on the speed at which she’s approaching me. Molly for normal speed. Mower for when she is mowing me down, taking me to floor. Mosey for her slower pace.) has seen me through some of the hardest times I’ve ever faced. I would shut the door to my room and hold her tight in my arms when anything seemed to be going wrong. She just licked my cheek and let me stroke her thick coat. Not complaining about the confinement. She always slept at the foot of my bed, not budging an inch. She is still fiercely loyal to me, even now when I don’t give her near the amount of attention she deserves because I’ve been busy at school. Every time I come home she is right up in my lap, she runs towards me even though she has arthritis in her hips. ( She’s a golden retriever corgi mix, aka a big dog with small legs that can’t really support her weight. She’s the perfect dog, but got some crappy genes.) She’s just always happy to see me no matter what.
    I dread seeing her age, because I know I will feel the same emptiness that my mother has since Sadie suddenly passed away in 2010. I will miss my own clunkier shadow following me around and plowing me down at the door. I will miss the way she would paw at my hands when she wants a tummy rub. I will miss the way she looks at me with understanding, almost as if she knows why I’m not home as often. I never thought I would understand how my mother could consider a dog her best friend, but luckily I do.

    1. What a moving tribute to a four-legged friend

  4. Growing up I was surrounded by glittering diamonds and sky high stilettos. My entire family always dressed to the nines, even if it was just to go to the grocery store. Furs, silks and designer clothing adorned the bodies of my family. “I do not do fake.” my Grandmother always said. Looking from the outside in you would probably assume that we were pertinacious and snobby, but if your on the inside you would know thats no where close to true. Granted you will probably never find one of us in faux fur or a blended silk, but we do not settle for less because we were raised not to. Everything you get in life you have to work for. You do not take out a loan or borrow money to purchase something, you wait and you work until you can make the purchase without hurting your budget. It may take you awhile but thats the only way to do it. All of us went to college or are going to college, we all worked even at a young age, because we do not believe in things being handed to you. Underneath all our diamonds and pearls we are covered in sweat and blood. In the evenings we are the ones you invite to house because we bring the best wine, but during the day we are the ones you invite to your house because we hand made your cabinets and are personally installing them. From my family I have gained two beliefs.
    I believe in hard work and earning what I want.
    I do not believe in fake.

    1. I love your essay! It's my favorite!

    2. I too love this essay, especially how you arrive at 2, not 1, things you believe!

  5. As I’m sitting down to write this, I can’t think of anything to say. Over and over, I’m thinking to myself, “It’s pretty simple, Sara. What do you believe in?” This is my second time taking the class, because I couldn’t get enough of the K-duo that holds the admiration of the whole city and lots of people outside of Lexington, the duo that is our leader in our quest to find and help create a sense of community in the surrounding areas.
    It wasn’t hard to write about what I believed in last year, and because of that, I’ve came to the harsh realization that maybe I don’t have the same beliefs anymore. Maybe something changed me. I don’t believe in doing something I don’t want to do, or even remembering that I need to do it in the first place. I don’t believe in acting like you’re happy when you’re not. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I don’t believe in believing in things anymore. If you don’t believe in things, then you can’t be disappointed when your beliefs fail you. You can’t be surprised when they leave you out in the cold, holding onto nothing but false hope and no socks to keep your feet warm.
    If you don’t believe that the little, frail man reclining back in his chair that’s been napping for the past three hours, even though he only woke up a mere hour before that, will get better, then you don’t have to be heartbroken and disappointed when he doesn’t. You don’t have to be surprised when you get the call from your mom, half an hour past midnight, to say that the old man you loved so much, the one that you spent Sunday afternoons watching sleep, because he was too tired to visit with you when you went to see him, the one that called me Sara Sue every time we spoke, a name that sounds wrong when it escapes my mom’s mouth now as she catches herself and lowers her head, because that’s what he always called me, is no longer here.

    I guess what I learned, is that you don’t have to believe in something to do it. It’s okay to act like you’re happy even when you’re not, and it is perfectly fine to put on a false pretense of believing in something, even though you don’t. Sometimes it’s just easier that way.

  6. Sometime in late July, every year of my childhood, I spent an afternoon going slowly through the nearly-three-inch thick Back-To-School edition of the Montgomery Ward catalog. I lingered the longest in the toy section, even when I was too old to think about toys or to ask for one special toy each Christmas. I coveted the mile-long-track marble roller-coaster inside the cover on every edition of the catalog. I suspected they only made one because no one would every buy it. It was super expensive. I suspect it was this kind of decision making that forced Montgomery Ward into bankruptcy in ‘97 even though Wikipedia wants me to believe it was the growth of a new breed of highly competitive department stores: K-mart, WalMart, and Target.

    It was with this catalog, during my annual summer shopping for $50 worth of back-to-school clothes, that I developed my current habit of marking pages I hope to revisit with small hand-torn strips of napkin. One summer I filled pages with these placeholders and slid the catalog under a chair so no one would disturb it before I returned to it the next day. Someone did disturb it. They were, in turn, disturbed to see that the bulk of my place-holding napkins marked pages upon pages of women’s underwear.

    I was also fascinated with the special shoes marketed to men with “problem” feet. Some had full rubber soles to absorb vibrations. Some had steel shanks and steel insoles. All of them were awful looking but I believed that this much engineering must have made incredible shoes.

    I wanted to look at all the pages filled with clothes for women and girls as well, but by the time I finished reading about the architecture of men’s work shoes, I had reached my catalog-reading limit. Thankfully, I had only one requirement, year after year: red pants. And though I have heard that red pants are trending with hipsters this year, there were a few years in my childhood when the color was not available for boys through the Montgomery Ward catalog. Each time, my mom helped me find red pants in the women’s section. She made sure the fabric would not allow my friends to know I wore pants made for a woman. She helped me understand how to measure my body differently in order to find pants for young women that still fit me like a young man.

    I believe in red pants.

  7. I cannot even being to calculate the amount of times somebody has done a favor for me, whether it be me asking them directly or them seeing that I need help and doing it without needing approval. Favors can range from doing one’s laundry, loaning money, a coworker helping another one out, or even letting someone borrow a pencil because they forgot theirs. There are an infinite amount of things that one may consider to be a favor. Although favors are not always something someone wishes to be asked of them.

    I will not lie, there are sometimes that someone has asked me for a favor and I have dreaded doing it for them but have anyways because I know that it helped them out in the end. I know I am not the only one who ever feels that way either. There are also times where I have had to say no because I simply could not and I am sure there are a few times I have so no because I did not want to fulfill the favor. I will say though, I have actually done the favors more than turning the person away. I also try and return the favor when somebody helps me out.

    Paying it forward is another aspect of doing a favor which is important and honestly motivates people to actually go through with the favors. Yes, favors are not always returned but there is always the possibility that it will happen. Pay it forward is a very contagious type of action and we need more of that in the world we live in today in my opinion. Many people of today’s society have been taught to only consider and think about themselves, which yes I do agree with that to a point but I also believe in helping others, especially when they have showed compassion toward myself.

    Sometimes we forget what it means to help others out which is why I in fact believe in favors.

  8. She tries to be a martyr; I wish she understood that martyrs are something of myth and fiction. The modern world does not need martyrs. Most of all, her family does not need a martyr.

    She blocks out all emotions so that we do not see how damaged she is. She is embarrassed by her “weakness” and believes she must be perfect. Her family does not need perfection.

    When one mentions that she should get help, she says that she does not need it. She brings the cost of help into the conversation. She says, “We need to save that money.” Her family does not need that money.

    She is afraid to get better; her bitter words and years of baggage have become her crutch. She depends on them and they are part of her. Without her pain, who would she be? It is who she has been for twenty-five years. She does not need to be afraid of changing.

    Her family tries to be encouraging, but often the words come out wrong. Recommendations become orders; pointing out her unhappiness becomes accusations. She does not need these things.

    I believe I know what to do.

    She does not want her journey to be one of solitude. She does not want to be the only one who changes. I will be with her, be part of her journey. We will change together. I believe that fixing the problems together is what should be done.

    1. There is so much pain in your reflection, Michaela. I hope you know what to do and are strong enough to do it.

  9. I believe in Story Time, for the sake of Story Time.

    I remember when I was in elementary school – Catholic elementary school – the priest of the associated St. Michael’s church would come to our class once a week. He had a stash of funny jokes and reliable catch phrases; always to liven us up from the gray dinge of our uniform pants.
    We did enjoy laughing and talking with him. I mean, to us, he was a holy man.

    He talked about Catholicism (naturally) and was there to quell our concerns about faith (despite attending a catholic schoolyard of strict discipline and white walls, we always managed to have more than a few questions). There were always the inquiries about drinking blood, and if that made us vampires – or – “if god is always watching us, can he see us in the shower?”

    But I remember one time when I was 7, he was talking about the universe. And I REALLY, liked talking about the universe. Earlier that year my dad and I had built a scale replica of the Apollo 13 shuttle. Having seen the movie on the subject staring Tom Hanks multiple times that month, it was the most proud a wee-child could be (even though I did little more than place the USA sticker on the body, freshly purchased from the hobby store). It was taller than me too. Although, I was not (and remain, not) a giant – so I suppose it didn’t need to be an architectural megalith to force itself over my cowlick, but still.

    Anyway, the priest went by Father Gary, and he was progressive for the year (roughly 2000). We all thought we were hot shit then because we managed to make it to the new millennia; our computer lab in the basement just got a whole fleet of those groovy-ass mac’s with the different candy-colored bodies (you know which one’s I’m talking about).

    He spoke on the big bang and how god started the universe with a snap of his fingers.

    And we would “oooooh” and “ahhhh”

    And it was an amazing thought.

    And then I raised my hand to ask a question:

    “But if god started the universe, who started god? Where did god live before the universe existed?” I began to imagine a strange dentist-like waiting room that would-be gods waited patiently in – maybe for eternities unknown to mankind – listening in endless agony to the fuck-tastic local new-country radio station.

    Father Gary leaned back on his stool at the front of the classroom, and one became suddenly aware of the creaking of our new and sterile desks.
    “Phew,” he said…”you know, I start to wonder that myself sometimes.”

    he paused another moment.

    “Aaaaaand I find I have to stop myself because of the headache it gives me. So I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. It’ll make your brain hurt too.” His lighthearted demeanor somewhat diluted at this point.


    Even after losing my faith, years later, I would still worry.

    He was right about one thing though, it will make your brain hurt.

    But, I’ve found if you don’t worry, it’ll make your heart hurt instead.

    And that, sucks.

    1. Finally: a reflection about a hurting heart. Love your stories.

  10. I believe in comfort items. Be it my blanket, your stuffed animal, or a necklace that your grandma gave you, I believe in them.

    Up until college I never had a comfort item—I was blissfully unaware that I was so consistently surrounded by comforting aspects of life I didn’t feel the need to have one specific item that comforted me. I left home for a few weeks at a time, but always returned right when I was starting to get homesick. Then college arrived. Home became a 12x12 dorm room and very little was comforting about. So I looked around and unknowingly started growing attachments to different things. For starters I began wearing my graduation present from my aunt—a simple Tiffany’s necklace—everyday with the exception of the days I wanted something a little more extravagant. And to this day that necklace goes with me everywhere; whether I’m going home or going to class every time I touch or see that necklace I am forced to think of my aunt and family back home.

    But nothing compares to my blanket. Up until five years old I was that typical kid who toted around a mangled, falling apart blankie, and was eventually weaned off the sad piece of fabric. Then junior year of high school my mom made me a simple blanket—two pieces of polar fleece sewn together so that when the weather got cold at marching band events, I would have a blanket to take with me. And somewhere in freshman year this became, quite literally, a safety blanket for me. If I have a rough day I curl up in it, if there is scary weather outside I swaddle in it, and if I miss my family I wrap myself up and go to sleep thinking of my family. I get concerned when I don’t know where it is, and even take it home with me so that it can remind me of the memories I am making later. I believe in my blankie. I believe that everyone should have a comfort item that take them back home (if they want to go there) and make them feel safe. Even if I am ten hours from home and two hours from my closet sibling, I believe in my blankie, and all comfort items, to take me back home for a short time.

  11. Ever since I was in Kindergarten I have been playing sports and exercising. Every day during recess my friends and I would gather up and either play kickball, dodge ball, soccer or basketball. I was not the greatest out of all of my friends but I was not the worst player either. So the way it worked when teams would be picked was that the two best players were captains and the rest of us lined up along the fence and waited until we got picked. I did not mind getting picked like fifth or sixth, as long as I was not last. But as the days passed I wanted to be better so that they would pick me first or second with the other good kids. This was probably the first time I became competitive and so from then on I began practicing every sport that we played after finishing my homework. I was playing for about an hour and a half during school and then I would get home and practice for about 3 more hours or until the sun went down. It might sound like I was a really serious athlete or something but basically I just asked my buddies from my neighborhood to play with me and I had that goal inside to get better. I remember that finally towards the end of the year I finally got picked first to play out of everyone because the other kids at school began to realize that I was beating a lot of the other kids and so they wanted me on their team. After thinking back to the good old times I realized that life really does not change much as you get older. In life you compete against others for one chance to prove you are worthy and it is up to you take advantage of that. You get picked depending on how well you perform and how hard you work, not only in sports but also in school and in life. People always want the best and will only pick the best out of everyone. The Olympics are going on right now and this is a prime example of countries picking their top athletes to compete against the rest of the world. Universities and businesses are always looking for the best student and the best worker, and it is up to you to show off your resume and prove that you can be a top student if not the best. I believe in competition and in hard work. But I also believe that sometimes things might not work out as planned and that there will be obstacles in life and that others might win when you should have won.

  12. My relationship with food is intense. This began back in high school when my bestie, Rossy, and I competed to see who could eat less. Every shared meal became a war of attrition. I counted her bites and made sure I took one fewer. She did the same. And so we ate apples and large salads that could easily have too much feta or too many olives for comfort. My internal counting mechanism ticked even when Rossy left town to visit her grandmother in the summer. I counted bites and guarded against overindulgence.

    Years later I came to America and started dating a man who liked to cook and to run. So I ate the food he cooked and I took up running. We never ran together, but we cultivated our shared reputation for extravagant eating. One evening he made a 20-layer crepe cake as an appetizer to baked rabbit with a side of cilantro-lime pilaf. By the time we got to the chocolate Guinness tart, we could hardly breathe. But I kept running and eating with abandon. I hurled my new diet straight into the face of the media telling women we must count calories. “You will blimp up soon enough,” my mother-in-law admonished the day before I got married. I ate even more on my wedding day.

    Now I refuse to eat unless I am hungry. I spend days without eating. Because I love chocolate after 8 pm, I am well stocked with 5-pound bars. Because I visualize the passage of food through my body, I will not inflict certain foods on my inner organs. For instance, I will not eat fried chicken. The irony of this situation is not lost on me.

    This was supposed to be an essay about moderation. Moderation has escaped me, once again. Instead, I am off to eat some chocolate: 3 bars of Krispy Kream, made in Kentucky. Try as I might, I do not believe in moderation.

  13. Every time I sit down to write a paper, I become “at a loss for words” as they say. The only things that go on in the back of my mind are: what can I write here to make it seem like I am trying while using minimal time to get the assignment done and impress the people around me to think that I am actually passionate about something and interested in the subjects that I am learning. Basically, this semester, I have perfected the art of bull-shitting a paper into existence.
    At the original moment of getting the paper assignment, I begin to think of all the things I know I must do for this paper to give it my 110% and actually reap the benefits from writing it. However, time passes and things become of more instant priority until I am left at 12:48, the night before it is due, with no words on my paper and not a clue in the world as to how I should start it. By this point, I don’t even care anymore. I just want to get it over with.
    This kind of thinking that I have fallen victim to is a waste. The education that I am receiving, that I am privileged enough to be able to receive, that I am potentially paying $40,000 for is all leading down to me just trying to “get by” and get my degree.
    For the rest of this semester, I choose to believe that I can do better than that. This point in my life is going to be the initial path-creator for the rest of my future. The kinds of activities I involve myself in, the kind of work I put into my classwork, the kind of opportunities I get for myself, they are all just the bricks in my yellow road until I can find the place where I know that I will feel successful.

    1. You know we are all watching your paper-writing now, Lauren :)