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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

This I Believe #8

Don't forget to post your essay before class on Tuesday!


  1. When in a place very different than what you are accustomed to, you forget why you are in this new place. You may start to break under the pressures, and begin to doubt your own abilities. Then, after spending far too long worrying about everything and smothering yourself in self-pity and guilt, you call up the person you most trust to help. You try to explain that you are a failure and a complete let down. The person on the other end of the phone--you know that she is rolling her eyes at you--tells you that you are good enough, that you need to calm down, and that this is just a bad spell. You come up with every excuse why you are not good enough and continue to degrade yourself.

    The person on the other end of the phone is suddenly harsh. “So is that it? You’re just going to give up?”

    You don’t answer. Giving up sounded alright until someone else challenged the idea.

    “It is too soon to give up. You need to get over yourself, stop freaking out, and get to work.”

    You mumble something about being wrong and that you are sorry. The other person asks if what she said was helpful or if it just made you mad. You aren't mad and it did help. Sometimes you just need someone else to reassure you and knock your brain into place.

    I believe in someone else calling you out for acting like a kid.

    1. I really like your voice in this reflection. And I hope you don't give up.

    2. Thank you. I am definitely not giving up.

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  2. I believe in brunch.

    This past Saturday my friends and I promptly headed down to brunch at 11 like we do every week. But as soon as we were within eyeshot of the caf we knew something was off—there were two elegant, long tables set up with “fancy” food—a sure sign of a preview day. Which in our minds meant one thing—there would be no brunch food. Still hopeful, we headed to the normal lines to find that there was no brunch food to be found. No big deal, right? Just eat some normal lunch food since it is actually lunch time.

    Wrong. Instead we all scrounged to find breakfast food in the caf—bagels in the back, wait in line for an omelet, convince our bodies that we were actually at brunch. But it didn’t work. We all sat there acting pissed off for the sole reason our food was in a different form than we desired. And that’s when I came to realize that for us brunch is more than just a meal. It’s something consistent that we all do as a group—no one has class and no one has meetings, we have brunch. We talk about the poor decisions made the night before, and lay out the plans for that evening. We eat way too much and stay for far too long. By changing the food they disrupted far more than just our diets.

    I believe in brunch. While I don’t believe in the food, I believe in the people. I believe in the time we find to spend together eating food that may not be that great but allows us to connect. I believe that brunch, no matter who will be in the caf, should not be interrupted.

  3. I believe the first This I Believe essay I wrote featured my fondness for asking pesky questions. It was January 2007, I was new to the genre, and so I told a long story in nearly 500 words, forgetting to state my belief.

    In the 7 years since then, I have declared my belief in a lot of things:

    I believe in chocolate.

    I believe in pulling people and dreams in to make magic.

    I believe that my mother is an American dreamer. Though she doesn’t speak English, her belief is firm.

    I believe in long Saturday-morning runs.

    I believe in saying good morning before anyone else wakes up.

    I believe in haikus: syllables of beauty squeezed tight in soft crevices.

    I believe in the power of stories.

    I believe in mustache cups.

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

    I believe in tending to one’s dead.

    I believe in men who listen and, at times, weep. I need more of them.

    I believe in the things that crack our lives open.

    I believe in cheesecake: baked to perfection near old radios.

    I believe that sprinkles of feta make everything better, even pancakes with maple syrup served as a Sunday treat.

    I believe in yogurt.

    I believe in the smells of the past.

    I believe in old couches.

    25 minutes after becoming American, I still believe in the self-worth of immigrants.

    I did not always believe in feta cheese.

    I believe in lives lived on the edges of our dreams.

    I believe in third blocks, an oversized snowman waving at me from the fifth yard on the left.

    I believe in waiting at long traffic lights.

    Like my father, I believe in the magic of long journeys.

    I believe in Kentucky.

    With one exception, I have not asked others to tell me what they think I believe in. So this is precisely what I am doing now: please send me a private text, email, or Facebook message to tell me what you believe I believe in. Or dispatch a note by a fast-flying pigeon. I promise not to disappoint.

    I believe in collective effort, always have.

  4. Though I am committed to listicles as I am committed to oxygen, I find no joy in disconnected lists of thinly articulated beliefs.

    On Read Across America Day, though, I feel I must reboot a previous statement: I believe in the bookmobile.

    Just as I believe that three-inch flakes of meat came down like rain at the Crouch family farm in Olympia Springs, Kentucky on Friday, March 3, 1876. Scientists did what scientists do. They ate it. I do not believe in eating meat that falls from the sky.

    I do believe in candy necklaces, Peanut-Butter-Banana Ice Cream, hot dogs, the alliteration of bed-time books, and a set of siblings with psychosomatic somnambulance.

    And I believe in the sound of my mother’s wedding ring tapping on the stair rail as she came up, the tapping an omen of the scolding saved for those not sleeping by as she cleared the top step. Tap, tap, tap.

    I believe in the
    of a metronome.

    And in cricks that flow right by still water ponds. And still, I believe in snail mail, mesmerism, and the sympathetic vibration of mated pairs.

    Vibrations abrade and break the brocade stretched across overstuffed arms, patterns worn thin by pressure and repeated acts of our skin.

    I believe in cracks.

    And community.

    And like Dalton Stevens who would give a visiting artist lecture to my students for the fee of 5,000 red ones, I believe that buttons mean more than money.

    I have believed in telling lies, gently. I have been tempted to believe in Taco Bell. And I am pleased to be reminded that I no longer believe sleep will kill me.

    And now, after seven years of essays, it is time for students to tell me what I should believe in. It is time to upend the assumption that it is a professor’s job to tell the students where to place their beliefs week after week.

  5. When I was a child, we always had people who helped us in school. Obviously there was the teacher who was your main resource when you needed help or guidance. But after school there were older students from high school and college who would come and help us with our homework and also play with us after we were done with our homework. Also, mothers of children would stay and supervise groups of children to make sure that everything was in order and that the children were not getting out of control. They would also help cook meals or help distribute food to the children in the program. Once i got to highschool, students had to complete a total of sixty hours of community service in order to graduate. At first I hated it because i had no clue who needed help around the community and also because i was a lazy freshman who had no interest in doing any service. But i soon realized how selfish that was of me and knew that although it is being forced upon us, that it would help us become better individuals. The first place where I volunteered was at the beach cleaning up trash. That was probably the worst thing i could have done because it was the LONGEST two hours of my life and i was exhausted after those two hours. It was not horrible but i knew that i simply could not keep doing that for another fifty-eight hours. I managed to find a place that did not kill me so much and ended up volunteering at a science center. Many of the volunteers did the same jobs as the employees and basically helped supervise the exhibits, teach children awesome things about science, and also made sure that they did not get out of control. Volunteering is a very important thing that should be done by everyone. It helps the community and also connects you with it. Volunteering helps those who you are helping as well as the place where you are volunteering at. I definitely have a better day after volunteering because I go home knowing that i helped people out and made their days easier and hopefully more enjoyable. I believe in volunteering. I believe in lending a helping hand and helping others as much as possible when they need it.

  6. I believe I am lucky to be alive.

    From the outside, my life is an endless comedy of nonsensical actions, utterances and coincidences; strung together exclusively by this body named “luke” that I – from time to time – notice myself breathing in.

    The fact that I’m still breathing at all I find to be a miracle on the order of humanity reaching the moon, or (as someone like me would see it) humanity getting back from the moon.

    I mean come on: It’s easy to pretend from the reclining chair that is “the present” that Buzz, Neil and Michael (lolz - sucks to be that third guy no one remembers) played it totally cool the whole time from low-lunar orbit…but I suspect when the radios were turned off, at least SOMEBODY was like: “ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….hmm…….ok, fuck.”

    Anyway: much like the crew from Apollo 11, (gallivanting through the solar system with the technological might of a programmable toaster oven) I can’t believe I’m still alive either.

    I tallied it up the other day for fun, and, during the past 2 decades this body named “luke” has survived no less than 9 (maybe 10) not-funny incidences that respectively kill off hundreds of thousands of unlucky folks a year. That’s just the big stuff, though. I usually run out of fingers counting the little (usually quite-funny) things by lunchtime.

    Chaos is the ebb and flow of my routine, it would appear. But as the old Yiddish saying goes: “to a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish.” Same thing for me really. I’ve developed a frightening indifference to forces vying to end my life. It is all I know.

    In a word: luck is all I know. And I thank the stars everyday (when I’m not cranky) for that luck.

    Maybe this misguided confidence in things-turning-out-alright is why I am so prone to take risks - to lay it all down.

    I believe at this point: what the hell do I have to lose?

  7. Much to lose, but so so much more to gain by taking risks and believing in luck! What if today is your lucky day?

  8. This weekend, I spent hours admiring one of many beautiful creations. Gatlinburg, although the city itself is nothing more than a pile of pancake castles and old time photo shacks where you can dress in Western attire, is beautiful if you’re viewing it from the top of the mountains in a cabin with 50 friends and good times. My good time was exemplified by the fact that I was up by 7:30 on Saturday morning, relaxing in the hot tub on the back deck of this four story cabin. And again, at one in the afternoon when me and two girlfriends decided to travel down the huge mountain to get some lunch, where we then ended up getting Henna tattoos from an Indian woman on the street who only had one color of ink, black. And yet again at dinner that night, when one of our dates got kicked out of the bar in a family restaurant after convincing an old man beside him to bet everything he had on a horse in some race that he pretended to know everything about, after he had emerged from the men’s restroom with a fireball shot that he claimed a bathroom attendant gave him… There were no bathroom attendants, but I guess that’s beside the point, because when you’re on a fraternity formal for the weekend, you don’t really ask questions, you just take it for what it is.

    If you were to ask me what I was thinking when I crazily agreed to get the confederate flag tattooed on my hip, I would honestly say I wasn’t thinking at all. If you were to ask me if I’d do it again, even after scrubbing it the past three days with rubbing alcohol to get it off before spring break since I'm going to the beach with my mom, I’d say of course.

    I believe in long weekends and good company.

  9. I like music for the strangest reason. I tried to explain it while I was on a first date. I said I liked music because of the language and how it fits into a melody, how the syllables are spread across a foundation. He didn’t understand as he looked at me like I was a freak, a music geek, which I’m not sure I am. While I did do band in high school I am no where near an expert, music theory is far above me. I just know that certain lines catch me because of their unique spread. The way artists choose to place the words is so critical as they have to fit into that moment in the melody as well as the song as a whole.
    When I come across these lines that speak to me in this way it feels as though I just turned the lens of a kaleidoscope. The new pattern of words echoing through my ear are fresh and brilliant, just waiting for their complexity to be explored. I often try to decipher the artists meaning, I look for track commentaries, I look at artists biographies and blogs to see if I can understand their reason for writing the words the way they did. While this often fails, coming to understand someone else’s story is an adventure in itself. I often find myself reflecting what I do find back on my own life experiences, which then somehow leads me to identifying why I like the language in the song.
    For example, Motion City Soundtrack’s song “ I fell in love without you” has a line that says “ every aching wound will cauterize and bruise”. I love the word cauterize. it’s stark contrast with the flowy melody underneath I think reflects the process of healing. It’s messy on the surface, but at the end it gives you solace. You needed the pain to get to a better place, that peaceful place and maybe that realization was with you all along. Maybe it’s getting you to where you really need to be.

  10. I believe in my Daddy. As a little girl my mother and my father both worked and still do leaving them with little time to spend with me and my little brother. I grew up not only raising myself but also raising Evan. My mother works night shifts at the hospital and when she is not doing that she is working a day shift. So she is either sleeping or gone. My father works for the government so he is rarely even in America. I had a difficult childhood dealing with depression and anxiety, medical issues, being bullied and then worrying about my brother. I never really felt like anyone cared about me. That everything I was doing was in vain that nothing was really that important. But around my the time I went to high school I developed a very strong relationship with my Daddy. I learned that someone did care about me, that I was loved. I had someone to complain to, to tell all of my faults and success to. He listened to me. He was there for me. I would breakdown only when I was alone with him. I have gotten so angry with him, to the point I was cussing at the top of my lungs and throwing my stuff at the walls. But he has never gotten angry with me. I have messed up and I have forgotten things but still he is patient and understanding. He is with me through everything, he is my sounding board. I know that I can always talk to him no matter the time and I know that he is always listening not just pretending. Without him I would not be able to get through the day let alone get through life. I believe in my daddy. I believe in Abba father.

  11. Thanks to the continuing snowpocolyse, we have all reach our final straw on this winter weather. It is probably safe to say that everyone cannot wait for the winter to spring transition, to wear shorts and sandals. Every cold day brings on a new series of conflict to where I no longer want to be productive, but just relax the whole day.
    I believe in roaring fires, covering myself up in layers of fleece blankets. I believe in bundling up with sweaters jackets, gloves, and boots; just like my mother told me so. I believe in hearing the tea kettle’s alarming whistle and the scent of tea leaves that precedes it. I believe in staying inside with the heat on and watching re-runs because there is no way I want to fall on my butt again while trying to cross the street. I believe in a winter that is matched with both beauty and comfort, and not just one of the above. Winter can be a pretty thing to look at when everything becomes covered in icicles and the rolling hills of the countryside are covered in the purest white.
    Despite my love of winter and how beautiful it can be, there comes a point where waking up to ice outside your door no longer is pretty, but just another lag in the day. Every winter storm that comes, I want nothing more than just to stay inside and sleep all day. The more days I have to bundle up, they more I wish we were closer to summer vacation.

  12. There have many times in my life when I have needed advice. I am a
    firm believer of asking for advice. There's not one day I go without
    asking someone what they think I should do. Whether it be about which
    color to paint my nails, what type of food to buy, or what to do with
    my life after college.

    My friends and family are always there for me when I need somebody to
    talk to and vent about something in which I need guidance. I've always
    been one to ask people's opinions about things.

    An aspect about asking for a dice that I like is being able to get
    multiple points of view and ideas. One person may be able to give me
    advice that solves my problem or at least helps me a lot and leads me
    closer to my decision while others may give me advice that just makes
    me want to punch them. But I will say that getting both types of
    advice can be helpful because you can see two or more different sets
    of pros/cons or whatever they have to say.

    I also like to give advice because receiving advice is very important
    to me and I like being able to give an unbiased opinion or an opinion
    that tries to visualize both sides of the story. Being able to analyze
    all outcomes or the major ones is very important necessary if you want
    people to take your advice seriously as well as seek you out again in
    their time of need.

    This passed school year has definitely had it's times when I have
    needed advice. I am very grateful for the people I have in my life who
    grace me with their advice as well as giving me the opportunity to
    advise and help them in whatever the situation may be.

  13. It’s hard to believe there are only three more days until the dreaded date of March 7th. Three. More. Days. This date has been on my calendar for almost three months now and it’s almost here. Although for most this is a day that has been eagerly anticipated for a while as the last day of classes before spring break, for me this is not quite the case.
    This date was previously scheduled in December, the last day of exams before winter break. It all began whenever I experienced a hurting sensation in the back of mouth. After informing my parents, we visited the dentist and sure enough after some quick x-rays it was discovered my wisdom teeth were coming in. Not just one or two, but all four of them. I was advised to immediately schedule an appointment with an oral surgeon to have them removed at my nearest convenience. This was close to the end of October, so although I was recommended to consider Thanksgiving break, I was not willing to sacrifice my ability to eat solid foods on one of the most delicious days of the year. This left winter break as my last option.
    My calendar was cleared and the date was scheduled for the last Friday of exams of fall term. The day finally arrived and I was ready to get this surgery over with. The doctor walked in and gave me a brief description of the surgery that was about to be performed. “Any more questions?” he asked. I had only one, and that was, “How long will I be out for this surgery?” “Anywhere from seven to ten days.” I was shocked. Not only because I has researched it thoroughly online, so I thought, and found that after only a few days I should be expected to be completely healed; however, mainly because I would be leaving in five short days on a trip with my family out of the country for a week. After we informed him of this trip, he immediately responded that there was no reason for me to risk the many complications that may occur while out of the country. After scheduling another appointment, I was almost disappointed after being ready and prepping myself for such a surgery, that it would be another three months before I would be going back into that office.
    That day is almost here now and it’s hard to believe how quickly the time has passed. I believe that time passes quicker each and every day. I believe that before I know it, the day will arrive and a week or two will pass, then I will be back in Lexington ready to take on whatever life has to throw at me.