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.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This I Believe #7

Post your essay here before class on Tuesday!


  1. Last Sunday my father told me that my Granny had passed away. Afterwords we had sat in the car, not talking, no radio, just sitting. After roughly 20 mins of looking out our own windows, he turned to me and asked me if White Castle was fine for lunch, I told him yes that would do. The drive there was silent. After we had lunch we went shopping, because my mother always says retail therapy solves everything, she's wrong. We didn't really talk, just looked at things. He bought me flowers and a stuffed lamb, anything I looked at that made me smile slightly made its way in to my hands. But thats just the way my parents fix things, buy us something to make us forget whats wrong. It doesn't work. When my father drop me back off at school, I put everything in my room and went on with my day as if nothing was wrong, because in my mind if i pretend it wasn't real then it wouldn't be real. I was wrong. Everyday that it got closer to the funeral I lost more of my motivation to do anything, because every time I completed something I had to do my mind would tell me that it was one step closer to seeing her in a coffin. So I thought, i’ll stop doing anything and then I wont have to see her in a coffin. I thought wrong. On Thursday we held her funeral. I could not run from the truth then. Crying is seen as a weakness in my family, so I did not cry, no one did. But when we got home I went to my room and i broke down. I cried. But I don't think my Granny would be disappointed in me for crying. At least I hope not. Cause I believe Ive been wrong about a lot in regards to that occasion, so Im choosing to believe that I wouldn't be wrong about that. 

    1. Running away from emotions doesn't seem like a good way to deal with them. And while I realize that this is pop psychology, I still need to share my response with you and to tell you that I am glad you cried. I believe your granny would have felt the same way.

  2. I believe in my college friends. For your entire life you’re told not to base your life decisions on what your friends do. “If they jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” Don’t go to college simply because your friends are going there, don’t base your style off your friends, and don’t make bad decisions simply because your friends encouraged you. And for most of high school and before I listened to this—I hung out with my friends at school and went home to my family. Sure I occasionally hung out with them beyond school, but ultimately I was always relieved to be home with my family.

    But college friends are different. I live with them, I eat with them, and I cry with them. When I have hard decisions to make, I talk through life with them instead of calling my family. And in a strange sort of "I hate emotions way", they have become an integral part of my life—a second family. So now, as I’m going through an extremely difficult decision, I will base my decisions on my friends. Because to ignore them would be selfish and ignorant—to act like I could be happy without the friends I’ve made these past two years would be one of the biggest lies of my life. I’ll base my decisions off how it would affect both myself and them—because they are the ones who talk me through my issues and have kept me going at times I’ve wanted to quit.

    I not a person who shares her feelings and I have some serious trust issues. But meeting my friends at college has proven to me that people are worthy of my trust—and also that I can write somewhat sappy essays. I believe that my friends have become an essential piece of my life that have an influence on my life decisions. While I may not jump off a bridge with them, and I certainly didn’t have these friends when I came to Transy, I will probably make bad decisions with them and learn from them and I will base some of my style decisions off of them. I’ll talk to them when I’m making tough decisions and listen when they face the same issues. But most of all, I’ll believe in them.

    1. Beautifully stated, Ashley. You have me entirely believing you that you should believe in your college friends. Te alternative is lonely, to say the least.

  3. For the past two months I’ve spent much of my down time marathoning Parks and Recreation on Netflix. I was initially drawn to the show by my love of all things Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari. I was not disappointed. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard over a television show in my life. With each episode running about twenty-one minutes, it is easy squeeze in episodes between classes or before going to bed. I also soon found out that many of my friends had been long time fans of the show and were more than happy to watch it with me all over again.

    And while I may have started watching the show for entertainment, I’ve found more. I recently saw a post online about the show. It said, “Be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do!”. This is in reference to the main character of the show (played by my favorite, Amy Poehler). Leslie Knope works for the local parks department in a small town in Indiana. She is driven and extremely passionate about her job and everything else she does. So in order to be “the Leslie Knope” of something you have to be excited and happy and ready to give it your all even if it’s not something you really want to be doing. Being Leslie Knope means being positive and working hard and that’s something I think we all need a reminder of sometimes. Life can be really overwhelming and it isn’t always easy to be nice and courteous to people. It is so much easier to be snarky or mean when you get in a bad mood, but you don’t have to be. You can choose to make the best out of every situation. You can find the little joys in doing things for others. You can choose to be Leslie Knope.

    I believe in Parks and Rec. I believe in Mouse Rat. I believe in Amy Poehler. I believe in being the Leslie Knope of everything you do.

    1. Ellen, you build a beautiful narrative based on a TV show I've never seen. Thank you for sharing the show and your thoughts with us.

  4. I believe there is a ghost that follows me.

    And I believe I am haunted endlessly by lost minds, angry spirits, and transcendental fools.

    But, let me be clear on one thing:

    I do not believe in poltergeists, or apparitions. I do not believe in those ‘paradrama’ primetime illnesses and the audacious, supernatural premises that substantiate their funding.

    As Robert M Pirsig once put it, "I do not believe in European Ghosts,” referring, to the anthropomorphized remains of “souls” or whatever people call them - disagreeing, as I do, to the whole notion of sentient beings wandering some other dimension of earth.

    I do not think of it like this.

    I do not think that a priest in a white collar can do me the honors of exorcising my mind from the many ghosts that walk with me, always.

    Like an idea, once it has taken a conscious root, it is there for good.

    It’s sort of like recording old Saturday morning cartoons on crappy, worn out VHS tapes. The tape itself is not aware that it is a tape, or that it contains reels of 1st season just does. And like this, my mind contains reels of many horrible things, that occasionally play themselves back - sometimes in whole, sometimes in part, and most oftentimes grainy and ambiguously.

    One ghost, that troubles me in extreme, is that of Rachel, the House Mouse. Rachel (who’s name was a pre-murder gift of mine) was an incredibly large field mouse that had managed it’s way into my room last year through the heater mounted to the wall. It was cold outside, and my room was a practical Valhalla of grains, seeds, dark chocolate and fluffy shit that Rachel seemed to pull out of thin air, to make a nest behind my couch.

    I couldn’t blame Rachel for making her way into my room. If I was a mouse, I would be inclined to do the same, I imagine. But she kept me up at night, and on more than one occasion I felt her scurrying across my legs while I laid in bed.

    I tried to capture her, but mice know when you’re trying to be coy.

    Rachel liked to play hard to get.

    The event slowly traumatized me: I bolted to arms at even the slightest scratch I thought was she.

    After 2 weeks, I folded. I contacted physical plant to have it taken care of. I was hoping they had some sort of plan to catch Rachel. To then release her.

    Days later I watched in horror as Rachel the house mouse ran herself over and over again into the corner of my room, clearly hallucinating from poison. I watched for 3 straight hours as she choked on her own bloody vomit retching in inter-species agony.

    I have never felt horror at the sight of grotesque movies or psychologically antagonizing Internet darkness that 14-year-olds show each other.

    This was different.

    Eventually her body stopped jerking, and I carried her iron-soaked, and still-warm remains to the dumpster.

    I do not believe in ghosts, as my people would have me do.


    after watching another mammal slowly bleed into hell – a manslaughter of my own volition – I sure as shit believe in being haunted.

  5. My mother nearly drowned the day I paddled up behind her with my 5-year-old arms. I climbed onto her back and clung to her so she could swim for both of us. Instead, she sank. Barely strong enough to keep herself afloat, my mom needed the inflatable bubble I was wearing more than I did.

    I nearly drowned the day I paddled from one side of a lake to the other while holding my shoes up in the air with one hand. Though I desperately wanted to keep them dry, eventually I had to pull them into the water. Holding them tight to my chest, I made it to the other side.

    The dandelions at the edge of the parking lot nearly drowned in the cascading bodies of dead bees pushed over the edge by those still living—tending to the tidiness of their rooftop home. The hives were filling with honey flavored with the scent of hops and yeast that rises from every pore of this building.

    We nearly drown, trying to swim with just one hand. Our non-swimming arms lock around each other, invisible below the surface of the dark, bitter cold water. We left the shore racing with long strokes, each of us striving to be the first to cross. Now we struggle in ways unpredictable, trying to hold each other afloat. I believe we will both die if ever one of us stops paddling.

    1. There are so many beautiful images in this reflection: the image of you clinging to the back of your mother, of the two people at the end, swimming one-armed and barely staying above water.

  6. I believe in washing dishes by hand.

    When I was 10, I would heat a pealing teapot full of water. I would frugally dole out hot bubbles to make them last longer. I was not allowed to get hot water from the kitchen sink. “It has too far to travel,” my mother admonished. “If you turn the hot water on in the kitchen, there’ll be no hot water for a shower.” So I worked quickly to rinse everything with cold water before the food crusted. To this day, I prefer doing dishes as soon as dinner is done. It is too hard to pry dry eggs from the pan, using cold water.

    When I was 15, my part of town suffered water rationing for 5 hours every day. From 11 am until 4 pm we used sparingly the water we collected in tall plastic bottles. Dishes gathered in chipped porcelain sinks until dinner time. No one knew why the water stopped each day. Then I went away to college and then I left for America and my neighborhood still did not have enough water to wash lunch-time dishes.

    At 22, I discovered dishwashers. Because I arrived at my American college in my senior year, I was assigned housing that came equipped with a fridge, a stove, and a dishwasher. But dishwashers did not make sense to me. It seemed like a lot of work to rinse dirty dishes, place them in a dishwasher, wait for the last cycle to end, then wait for the dishes to dry so they were not steaming hot and dripping wet.

    So in America, I discovered the joy of washing dishes by hand. I slide wet fingers over the grooves of green plates that bear the traces of wild plants pressed into soft clay. It was Jo who gave me these plates after nights of washing dishes together, bellies swollen with home-made mac-and-cheese. Because she doesn’t own a dishwasher, Jo knows of my fondness for rinsing pottery slowly under a hot stream of water. I still have all 12 plates: unbroken after years of washing dishes by hand.

    1. This was perfect for today! Thank you for the share. There are only a handful of us hand-washers left, it seems.

  7. Syllabus day is a glorious day in the world of a college student. You basically get a chance to learn what your class schedule feels like, see who is in your class as well as pick out your seat for the term. It is also the day you know you can’t leave with too terribly much work to do besides looking over your syllabus again after the professor has just read it aloud to you in class. Syllabus day is also when one of my favorite questions is answered. Well, it’s my favorite depending on the response from the professor.
    As the professor concludes the rambling lecture of syllabi expectations they always ask “Any Questions?”
    I’m usually the only one to raise a hand. They call on me and ask “ Yes?” and then I reply “Will there be a study guide for the exams?”

    If the answer is YES- I feel as though I can survive. Study guides always help me focus on what I really need to know. I always feel pretty prepared for an exam when I know I completed the study guide in its entirety. It’s also nice because I can say well I did the study guide and studied it, there was literally nothing else I could do. This helps especially when I don’t get the grade I wanted back. Even though a study guide may not cover everything we had in class it gives me a clue as to what I should try to remember. Things tend to stick with me for longer after the exam as well.

    If the answer is NO- Panic tends to ensue. I take notes on all my out of class reading and pray to the exam gods begging for some form of mercy. So many important thoughts go swimming through my head right before I enter the room. My palms even sweat. I mean you can only expect me to memorize so many important things, let’s face it that’s basically what a lot of exams are. I regurgitate what you told me to on a piece of paper so you can judge me for how well I matched your wording from class. YUCK.

    I believe in study guides. I like the reasonable expectations. They put my on notice for what I really need to know to be successful. I love learning for learnings sake and enjoy all the material in my classes. I just prefer to avoid test anxiety.

  8. When I was about seven years old, I began to be very interested in sports and I would constantly be watching games on television. I think I am pretty lucky to live where I grew up because there were so many sports teams around my area. Near my Area we had the LA Lakers, LA Clippers, LA galaxy soccer team, LA Dodgers, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and the Angels of Anaheim. The Anaheim Angels were like 10 miles away from where I lived and I could always see when players hit home runs because fireworks would light up the sky. After being thrilled from watching games all the time on television and enjoying the fireworks from a distance, I asked my parents if we could go to a baseball game. I did not care who the Angels played against or where we sat, all that I cared about was watching live professional baseball. My dad agreed to take me if i got good grades when my next progress report came in. This obviously pumped me up and I was excited to get better grades so that I would get the chance to go watch the Angels play. My progress report came back a week later and I was jumping up and down with glee because my grades came back and were to my dads expectations. That friday i got my glove and my baseball hat and we headed towards the Angels Stadium! The angels were going to play against the San Diego Padres and I was excited to see all of the players compete against each other. As we got close to the stadium I remember hearing hundreds and hundreds of people just roaring with excitement and cheering on the players. I was amazed how different things look live compared to on television. On tv everyone looked bigger and the whole field looked different. My dad got us semi-good seats but we were pretty high up close to the nose bleeders. Unfortunately i did not catch any foul balls but i really enjoyed watching the Angels play. I was seven years old and that was in 2002, that year was the year that the Angels won the world series against the San Francisco Giants! I was really glad that i got the chance to see the best team of that year play.
    I believe in coincidences. I believe in baseball.

  9. I have had some really stressful days in college. These days seem to just drag on and on and never end, especially when homework and assignments are just piled on. The people around me make things a little more bearable though. I have sisters from my sorority in some of my classes who are willing to help when they are able to, and it’s always nice to be able to talk to them. At the end of the day, when I tiredly walk myself back to my room, my roommate is usually there studying. Somehow after I get back to my room, we both end up in some kind of conversation about our homework, classes, professors, etc, instead of actually doing our homework or studying. Our conversations will then to into even weirder conversations that are really humorous.
    Sometimes I’ll even get a text message from one of my friends who don’t go to school here, and just having a chat with them through text message can even make my day a little better. I don’t get to see these friends as often, but I love the fact that we can still keep in touch and talk about whatever is going on in our lives. My family also makes sure to stay in contact with me while I’m in school. Sometimes they’ll even come visit me on campus and take me out to dinner, and we can just talk about how we’ve been. I believe in my family, my friends, and my sisters because although there are times when everything seems to stressful, there are always people who are there for me.

  10. I believe in letter writing.

    I believe in it because my words come out better when I use pencils and stationery instead of the pixels of a computer screen or my own shrill voice. I know that letters are intimate and can be revisited over and over. They last longer than conversation and capture a person better than any photograph can.

    The greatest thing about letters is that they can be rediscovered. When I was young, my grandmother bought an antique metal tin, sealed shut. After an hour of labor, my grandmother popped it open and found love letters written to a school teacher in the 1940s. Each was several pages long, written in cursive, and yellowed from age. My grandmother and mother giggled over the sappy notes, calling them sweet but later laughed at the letters. The schoolteacher had received a dozen letters from three different men within a few months.

    I once rediscovered a letter. In the midst of spring cleaning one year, my mother and I found a four year old letter addressed to me. It was from my favorite aunt, one who had passed on and replaced quickly not long after sending me the letter. There was nothing terribly interesting said in the letter, but it became one of my treasures and my connection to an almost forgotten person.

    I believe in letter writing because part of the writer is within the pages and ink, because letters hold emotion and thoughts better than any other media, and because they can last lifetimes.

    1. I do as well, Michaela! I wrote a This I Believe essay about my belief in letter writing a couple of years ago.

  11. Flying for the first time, leaving the country for the first time, and moving far away from everything familiar was another first for me when I left the United States last year to study abroad in Costa Rica. I was not scared to leave everyone and everything behind because I knew that my time abroad would be one of the best experiences that I could possibly have. I knew I would miss people, food, material objects, etcetera but that was not going to stop me. Don’t get me wrong, at the airport I was bawling my eyes out because I knew I would miss my dad, my boyfriend, and my little brother the most but I knew it was only for a short time that I would be without them which helped me pull it together enough to make the commitment and actually getting on the plane.

    Considering that flight was my first time ever flying, I was a little nervous. Thank goodness I had Emily with me because I don’t think I would have been as calm without her. She had flown multiple times and knew all the protocols and such so that was a plus for me. We flew from Lexington to Atlanta and then from Atlanta to Costa Rica so the time on the plane ended up not being too long but definitely long enough. I can remember sitting on the plane and listening to the lady give the safety speech and then she switched to speaking in Spanish. After listening to her, I asked Emily what the hell we were doing. I understood some of what she said during the speech but not as much as I would have liked considering I was going to live in a Spanish-speaking country for the next six months. I really wanted to return to the US at that point but knew it was out of the question and that I needed to stick it out.

    Speaking of sticking it out, there were a few times throughout the six months that I questioned why I was there. There was the first day we got there and had to take a taxi ride to our hotel and I was extremely nervous because I was actually in Costa Rica. Getting the taxi was nerve-wracking in the first place but then having to speak to the driver in Spanish made everything worse. Another time I wanted to give up was when we had to take a test that examined our level of Spanish writing, reading, listening, and speaking abilities and I felt crushed after taking it. I knew that speaking and translating Spanish was the focus of my dream career but how could I do such a thing with the performance I had just given during that test. I was mad, confused, discouraged, and almost heartbroken. I finally got it together after a couple of days and told myself that everything would be better once I lived with my permanent host family. This in fact did happen, I was very happy with my new host family. Granted, there were many more trials I had to overcome like breaking up with my boyfriend of four years, not keeping in touch with some of my really good friends, having to be without my family on holidays, my fish (aka my bestie) dying back home, being alone on the fifth anniversary of my Nana’s death, having to celebrate my 21st birthday in a country whose drinking age is 18, and many more everyday frustrations. However, through all of those rough times, I grew immensely as an independent young woman. I would not trade anything for the time I spent in Costa Rica, matter of fact, I would go back and study there for a year if possible. All of the good times, memories, and all of the people that I met exceed the bad times I had while there. In the end, I believe in study abroad, stepping out of your normal atmosphere, and not only growing as a person but learning more about who you are and what you want for your life.

  12. Just the other day one of my friends and I woke up to a beautiful Sunday morning. Sunny with a slight breeze and a high in the 50’s. On our way to lunch I’d honestly say we drove by at least ten other runners. Even by our window at the restaurant in Chevy Chase, runner after runner would pass intensifying our guilty conscious’ until both of us agreed we had to take advantage of this absolutely gorgeous day. The rest of our lunch consisted of discussions of when we wanted to run, how long we wanted to run, and even all of the different possibilities of where we could run. After we came to the conclusion that we needed to run anywhere as soon as possible and for as long as possible, we left the restaurant in a mood that both of us rarely found ourselves in which was that of an eager enthusiasm to go for a long run through town. Maybe it was the strangely warm weather or maybe it was just the inspiration we received from what seemed to be every runner out in Lexington that day, but we had plans to take advantage of it.
    After stopping by each of our places to change into workout clothes, we sat down for what felt like only 10 minutes when it began to snow. Huge snowflakes larger than quarters were falling down in 40-degree weather all around. We couldn’t believe it was actually snowing when just an hour ago it was one of the sunniest days this month. Although we were disappointed the gorgeous day had gotten away from us, we decided to try once again to take advantage of the weather. We laid around the rest of the day and did nothing but watch the large, beautiful snowflakes fall.

    I believe in the snow, sun, and rain. I believe in long runs on warm, sunny days. However, I believe just as much in just lying around other days, basking in each other’s laziness and appreciating that time spent together with friends.

    1. A fun narrative that turns not running into a virtue!

  13. I believe in being good, but not overly, excessively good. I don't believe in picking up a homeless woman, and driving her "just down the street to the shelter".
    She stopped me on the street, and asked me for money. Being the typical poor college student, I didn't have any cash on me. Instead, I gave her all the change I had, almost ten dollars worth. "Where ya goin', sweetie?"
    "Just to go meet my sister for lunch"
    "Would you give me a ride just down the street to the shelter? Please?"
    "I'm sorry, I don't think my parents would be okay with that."
    After a few minutes of talking, and her assurance that she was "harmless," I suddenly remembered that my vow to be a better person the week before was looming over my head. I agreed to give her a ride to the Hope Center, three blocks away.
    "Can we stop by that gas station across the street and get some food?"
    By "stop by that gas station across the street and get some food," she actually meant "drive me over there, and then buy me $20 worth of all the junk food I can carry in my arms at once."
    After arguing about cigarettes for another ten minutes...
    "Can you just drop me off at McDonald's instead?"
    "Yeah, I guess so."
    When we pulled into McDonald's, she assured me that the shelter was just a few minkes that way, which, since I've volunteered at the Hope Center before, I knew that was the opposite way we should be going.
    "You can just go through the drive-thru."
    I texted my best friend to call me asap, and she did so within 30 seconds.
    "Hey, Allison! What's up?"
    "What?! Is she okay?"
    "Oh my goodness. Five car pile-up? What hospital?"
    "Okay, I'll be right there!"
    I pulled out of line, and told her there was a family emergency and that I would take her to the shelter on my way to the hospital. She cussed at me, yelled at me, and shared with me some choice words in which I will not share with you. Eventually, she got out of my car.

    I believe in being good, but not overly, excessively good. I don't believe in picking up a homeless woman, and driving her "just down the street to the shelter".

  14. I believe in sleep. The more I have to separate myself from my cozy bedcovers, the more I realize how little sleep I have gotten in the past week. Sleep allows me to retreat from the daily stresses from classwork, doctors appointments, work, figuring out tax information, and whatever else being an adult makes me responsible for. Sleep gives me a moment to submit into a silent space where I no longer have to deal with reality, but can choose to escape into fantasy.
    I never realized when I was younger how rare of an experience sleep becomes once you are an adult. I never allowed my brain to repair dead neurons or formulate that day’s memories. Instead I stayed up late watching videos and reading. Denying myself the experience of entering my own Wonderland and replacing it with numerous texts about social structures and children’s mental development. Every moment that I stare at my clock, seeing the time hit 1, then 2, then 3 AM, I remember that eventually I will be able to sleep and it’ll be as if these problems don’t exist. It is a solace to know that there is a way to escape daily stress.
    Waking up in the morning has become the hardest thing to do. The warmth and comfort of being wrapped up in blankets and avoiding the daily struggle of a college student. Sleep comes at rare moments when I am able to feel like I have completed enough requirements that day that I can fully relax, and have peace at the knowledge that I only have a little more to go.