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, January 29, 2017

This I Believe #3

Don't forget to post your third TIB essay here before Tuesday's class. Also, be sure to bring a printed copy to class and practice reading it aloud.


  1. Did you know that in some circles lifejacket is a dirty word? In the world of water sports the foam vest you wear to prevent you from drowning is called a personal flotation device or PFD so nobody gets any funny ideas about them being fail proof and decides to sue when they don’t work. The term PFD was introduced to me on my first rafting trip. I was on a retired school bus on a twisty backroad in West Virginia, slowly making my way down to the New River and a grizzled raft guide got up to give the safety speech. He talked about how T-grips can knock your teeth out and how your helmet would only work if it was strapped on so tight it almost felt like you were choking. Then he moved on to PFDs and the numerous instances in which they would be of no help to you. One of these cases is when you’re stuck in a hydraulic. A hydraulic is basically a spot in a rapid where a big rock is disrupting the flow of water and causing a hole that recirculates water at a rapid pace. This phenomenon is usually a pretty good time for rafters because you can put your raft in the hydraulic and “surf”. They stop being a good time when you’re no longer in the raft. Being recirculated is something you are warned could you happen to you every time you go down a river. I’ve been white water rafting a dozen or so times and every time I heard the spiel I paid it little mind, thinking that would never happen to me. My last trip we were on the Upper Gauley and we decided to go surfing. The water was big and the raft got tipped in such a way that I fell out of the boat and into the water. At most places in a rapid, if you go out you just get pushed down river, but in a hydraulic you are basically put on spin cycle. It is a horrible feeling. You simultaneously need to vomit and can’t breathe. By all accounts, your PFD can’t help you in this situation but in my personal experience that isn’t the case. The pillow on my PFD was smacking me in the head over and over again. This is what brought me back to myself and made me remember how to get out. I believe in PFDs.

    1. What a terrifying experience! Glad you had a lifejacket/PFD on!

  2. I found a single antler behind the guard rail.

    Small, with just a few points, it was de-glossed by at least a few seasons of weather and the dust from cars hurling by feet away, filled with families arguing and couples not speaking to one another because driving brings disagreement and demons. I put the antler in my pocket. I never told anyone where it came from.

    I followed a string that unraveled at the pavement’s edge.

    Faded to dirty white and knotted by the wind to dead stalks of small plants born in the spring, it was dried up by the summer sun still beating down. My skin dehydrating like the weeds, I walked and counted miles and calculated the hours it would take to get home from here: 18.

    I photographed a chair upholstered with patterned velvet.

    Deconstructed by rain, gravity, and time, the once refined parlor chair had just three legs and a frame that broke further under my weight as I sat to cry against its tall back, hidden from the highway where she asked me to pull over so she could drive.

    She was right to ask. I have a sleeping disorder.

    Though delivered from a point of concern for both our lives, her request arrived at my ears as an attack simmered through miles of driven silence. Like steam from a pressure cooker, I burst from the driver-side door. I chose the option of walking with no water in the sun of late summer over suffering another minute in the brutal silence of that car. Two hours later I called her to ask if she would collect me. I would never get home soon enough by foot.

    I believe in apologizing

    1. An antler, a deconstructed couch, an apology--strange how moments of heightened tension can be marked by memories of small, insignificant objects.

  3. Who do you want to be?

    Constantly repeated.
    Constantly repeated.
    Repeated. Repeated.

    Who do you want to be?

    A simple question that might seemingly have a simple answer and yet it is never really that simple. Does it mean who you want to be in relation to other people? A caregiver, a friend, a leader. I want to be all of those and to an extent most people do as well it seems. Or is it a reference to your preferred career path? I want to work with theatre, creating things and experiences that move people and myself.

    Who do you want to be?

    During an acting workshop this weekend my partner and I used this question in a two-minute piece and ever since it has stayed with me. Haunting me with its myriad of intentions and the innumerable responses to those intentions. I began to really think about the implications of that question in that it asks you to think about what you want to change from your present situation. It asks you to in some ways think about the negatives in your life currently and in bringing those to the surface it makes you examine them. But I don’t want to focus on the negatives. I’d rather think about the positives that I forget typically. I have a loving family and I am the oldest of four children. I have a wonderful group of friends who I support and who support me. I am studying and learning about a subject I love. I am a hard worker and I enjoy the job I have.

    In the end it doesn’t always matter who I want to be, I just have to believe that I am me both good and bad. I believe in me. Constantly. Repeated.

  4. There are three videos on my phone, each from 2010. They are videos of my late grandfather, singing and dancing as best as he could in his recliner to Frank Sinatra, his favorite artist. Even when he got very bad, music seemed to bring him back to himself. I can’t bring myself to delete those videos. They are a part of my very few memories of him before Alzheimer’s completely took him away from us.

    My grandfather grew up in Canton, Ohio. I’ve never been there, but the name stirs up a fond feeling in my chest. He served in the U.S. Navy, and he later worked as an accountant. He had an aptitude for working with numbers. My dad and I both take after him that way.

    (In addition to his mind, we also have his nose.)

    He always loved to make people laugh, and he had a hearty laugh himself. I think he liked laughing as much as he liked to make others laugh, because he was always making jokes and laughing. As his dementia got worse, he would repeat the same jokes and phrases over and over. “Too much of a good thing,” he would often say, “can be wonderful!” We would chuckle politely as he roared with laughter. I can still hear him loud and clear to this day.

    When he passed away, we didn’t have a funeral, but a “celebration of life.” I’m not sure what the difference is, really, because we all still wept in the chapel. My father went up to give his speech with tears in his eyes and a voice that cracked as he read a poem about a sailor with no fear of death. It’s one of the very few times I’ve ever seen him cry.

    Then it was my uncle’s turn to speak. He made a joke about being told he was the favorite sibling, only to find out that they told my father the same thing. The joke worked. And then he told us that when his father - my grandfather - was told he had Alzheimer’s, his only fear was how the disease would hurt his family. He always cared about us first. I’m glad my uncle got us to laugh; it’s what my grandfather would have wanted while we were missing him.

    Some days I fear that Alzheimer’s will get my father next. Maybe one day, if I live long enough, it’ll get me too. They say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

    I believe I take after my grandfather.

    1. What a heart-warming reflection, Megan. I'd suggest you share it with your dad. Or uncle. People always like knowing about the impact they make on those around them.

  5. “When my mother went to university to become a therapist she learned that suffering, even though it may have happened a long time ago, is something that is passed from one generation to the next to the next, like flexibility or grace or dyslexia. My grandfather had big green eyes, and dimly lit scenes of slaughter, blood on snow, played out behind them all the time, even when he smiled.” All My Puny Sorrows, Miriam Toews

    “Did you know there’s such a thing as inherited trauma in your actual DNA? They did this study on bunnies where they give them electric shocks when they were smelling cherry blossoms- and the bunnies’ babies, and their babies, the grand babies, they were all afraid of cherry blossoms.” Transparent

    I wrote a play for a class about how it felt the first time I saw my aunt drunk, in my driveway, a feeling replicated when I saw her smoke a cigarette for the first time. Does she remember what she whispered at me about the magic of my mother while leaning half her body out of the passenger side window of her husband’s truck? “Oh my god,” was all I could manage to say. Her response, “I know, I know. I’m grasping.” Does she remember calling me in the middle of the night? Does she know what she told me? What she hinted at about my mother and refused to say out loud? I will never bring it up. I do not doubt what I understood.

    These conversations do not happen often, and she is not always drunk when she wants to have them. Sometimes, she slips a secret out the car window when she drops me off at my apartment. She calls me later that night with the whole story, and it ends up being an hour and a half of us both crying, pausing to wipe off our phone screens.

    A text at midnight, about her husband, how my brother and I mean more to him than his estranged daughter, how that makes her love him more.

    A text at midnight, “sometimes I think I was put on this Earth to meet you.” I send back, “love you so much.” A goodnight text in return, “I know.”

    My aunt has told me many things about my family that they do not know I know, that they cannot know I know. When the weight of the information gets too heavy, I call Maura and tell her half of it, never all. My aunt has no children, a stepdaughter who hates her for not being religious does not count I don’t think. She is trying to make sure she lives on. She wants me to know our shared history, where I have come from, what individual traumas my family members have endured. Sometimes when I’m alone in my car, I say it all out loud. I do not want to forget. But I am not sure I will be able to pass it on.

    I believe in the strength of the women in my family. My aunt, my mom, their mother. Is this something I share with them? Will it be?

    When my dad’s mother was dying, she told my mom she had something very important to tell her, something about my dad’s side of the family she had kept secret from everyone. My mother did not go to her. She did not want to know.

    1. Oh, Katie. This is such a poignant reflection. Family stories and secrets and the desire to live on in the people who come after you...this is the stuff we are all made of.

  6. When I was younger, I was terrified of change. Maybe every little kid is. I'm not really sure. I wanted my life to stay almost exactly the same—but eventually, a string of crazy events turned my entire world upside-down, and changed my life to be what I know it as today. The dust has settled, and I can't imagine what my life would be like if those events had never happened.
    As the years passed, I picked up more and more about change and how to live with it. Namely the negative stuff that you don't want to live with or think you can get through. But something happened after all this change. I realized I did live through it. That pain, while not exactly fun, is survivable. This concept reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite books, Paper Towns by John Green: "I'm not saying that everything is survivable. Just that everything except the last thing is."
    This realization really started forming in my senior year of high school, and ended up leaving a great impact on me in terms of my college decision. I'd spent the first three years of high school terrified that one day my friends and I would all graduate and be in different places. I would've done anything to stop it. But the fourth year—the last year—I realized I wanted change. That if what I wanted to do was different from most of what my friends were doing, I could live through it. So I made a decision on Transy, despite knowing only two other people here, both of whom were freshmen during my senior year. And despite more than a few struggles, I still think I made the right decision.
    For this reason, I believe in change.

  7. We base our friends around our interests. Sports, videogames, religion, TV shows, etc. That then separates us into specific stereotypical circles where hardly anyone crosses over into the others. We are practically stuck in the same circles for years at a time. Although we may have friends from other circles we tend to generally stick to the same circles we always have unless absolutely necessary. There are some things though that can cross over to every group no matter who shares them or what the context is.
    Who ever shares it to others is not frowned upon or looked at by other whom are wondering why they are even talking to them. These things are so common yet every time one is shared it always something different. These things are shared throughout social media with new captions everyday. They come in a variety of different forms from frogs to bees to old songs that somehow make a comeback. I am not talking about animals though. I am talking about memes.
    Everyday we see memes on facebook, instagram, tumblr and they either suggest a situation you have never been in or one you identify with well. They discuss recent events and past events in a hilarious and generally non-harmful way. Memes shape the youth, speech and our society. They bring together communities through funny jokes like a cat that say “I can haz cheeseburger?” or a “dat boi” coming at you. As our speech evolves so do we, as a whole and a society. We bond together and share the most common and obscure memes to find friendship and companionship based on the shared personal and cultural interests in memes. I believe in Memes.

  8. TIB 3
    Every little girl dreams of the day they find their true love and he sweeps her off her feet. They dream of the wedding they will have and sometimes play dress up with friends to bring it to life. But, true love doesn’t have to be the man of your dreams, it can come in different forms. For me it came from my dog Cassidy Avery ZaZa Bacon. She is the love of my life, but she is not the last. I love her so much and would do anything for her. She is a full-blooded German Shepherd, and with this has grown my obsession over German Shepherds. German Shepherds as a whole are one of my true loves. I love to research and read about them, if I could take classes on it I would. I am currently planning on majoring in Business and minoring in German. With this degree I plan to become a dog breeder and trainer of German Shepherds. This is my dream job, because I love and have a deep connection with German Shepherds. They are my true my true love. I believe in true love is more than just a connection between two people but with multiple.

    1. You are right: true love doesn't have to come in the shape of a boy or man for any girl or woman. There are girls who fall in love with girls. And women who fall in love with women. It is good to know there are many options :)

  9. This I Believe
    I was born is war, my birth was just the make of the second Congolese war. I was born in 1898 over my lifetime over 5.6 miller people have dead in Congo. As a baby, my family my flee over time to time from my home to my village. My cousins and aunts tell me now of the stories of how they had to care me on their shoulder during that time. Over the course of my life, more than 10 miller people have been displacing from their home, with 45,000 people kill every month and the UN budget of 1.5 billion dolls and 22,590 manpower. Most of the people killed are women and children. As child people told me when you hear a gunshot run home. As a kid, my childhood memory are filled with blond, neighborhoods crying at night, people running away from their home.
    The question of the day would be what do I really believe in. the word have become more violence than every racial and injustice has grown.

    1. I doubt anyone else in the class can tell a similar story, Cubaka. Thank you for sharing it. I want to know more though. I want to know more about your cousins and aunts, about what they did and where they are now. I want to know more about this story: a story everyone should hear.

  10. Sunday nights are for homework. I’ve usually spent all weekend doing everything I possibly could to avoid the responsibilities that await in my backpack on the floor of my dorm room. So, after Friday and Saturday have passed (and Sunday morning slept away), all that is left is Sunday night and a mountain of neglected responsibilities.
    This Sunday, however, did not quite go to plan. As our campus became covered in a lovely blanket of snow, I bounced between assignments and weather forecasts, the possibility of a snow day camping out in the back of my mind. Time passed and the snow began to slow. No, classes were not going to be cancelled. Yes, I absolutely needed to finish this work.
    Around 10:45, a knock. A friend pleading for me to go play in the snow. A decision: stay in and work or return for just a few minutes to childlike state of wonder? I picked the obvious choice.
    My phone in a plastic baggie to protect it from flakes, my gloveless hands shoved in my coat pockets, my toboggan quickly placed on my shivering friend’s head, two friends and I created our own adventure. We walked through Gratz Park, down to Cheapside, around the ice skating rink, and back home. Our phones shut down in the cold, we experienced making snow angels, eating flakes by the handful, and a brief snowball fight without worrying about recording these moments for later. We were not concerned with our homework waiting for us back on campus, nor the real possibility of sickness from our hasty preparation. Observing the still downtown around us, we stored as many snapshots as we could into our memories: The sparkle of snowflakes on empty streets, the yellow tint from streetlights on each other’s faces, the still-pure sidewalks that would soon be covered with slushy footprints, the crystals that intriguingly clung to street signs.
    As we walked back, shivering from the night air, we joked about the work we had to do for Monday. Sipping on hot chocolate meant to warm my hands, I thought about what I would have lost by staying in. And even as I fell asleep hours later after finally finishing the work I had ignored, I was convinced that the right decision had been made. I believe in opportunity knocking.

  11. I look around and see the food that covers the table. It consists of many different entrees, sides, and desserts; all coming from different homes and different people. This food brings many different cultures together to influence harmony and friendship. As I look around at the people I have never met before I realize how much I truly can bond with everyone here. After I fill my plate, I sit next to a photographer, later I move on to a woman of STEM, and lately a stay at home mother. The occupants, all from one neighborhood, show me how even with such great amounts of diversity there can be equally great amounts of unity.
    In my eyes food has such great power. It brings my friends and I together during lunch and dinner as we can reflex on the day we have all had, share stories of humor, and advertise care we have for one another. Food brings my friends and I together when we are studying. When we take trips to Panera to experience different environments where successful studying can be accomplished as the peace offers a better learning environment. Food joins old friends together to catch up, it offers celebration, pleasure, counseling, and survival.
    Food can offer myself tranquility and relief, as it can offer the same to others. It can give people energy and peace. It is used for survival, but it is so much more powerful than just that. It offered my August Term class experience, it offers a means of holding informal reunions, cakes are seen at nearly every birthday party, and in the time of passing others bring it to those in mourning. Food may be one feeding an addiction, or one those body conscious want to avoid. Certain foods may be seen as something to avoid, or something to collect peace and happiness. It holds more purpose than just one, that is why I believe in food.

    1. I believe in food too--for all the same reasons! We will be sharing food in CETA too!

  12. You told us to sit down on the floor in the theatre, you then took a piece of paper, ripped it in half, and and placed one on each side of the room width wise. You then picked up a chair and placed it in the middle of the two pieces of paper. The floor had now become a stage. We had done a myriad of exercises that pushed us to be ourselves, and to express in ways that shed any idea of artifice or any idea that we were giving anything other than ourselves through different prompts and collaborative exercises. This time around the exercise seemed so simple. You told us as you demonstrated that all we had to do was walk up to the stage, walk on the stage, sit in the chair, then stand behind the chair, and then simply walk off the stage. We had to do all of this all within the idea that we were to be ourselves and nothing more as we existed on the stage. Sounds easy right? Wrong, at least for me anyway. When it came to be my turn my heart began to pound and I’ll be honest in saying that the whole experience was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever had to do in my life. I couldn’t bring myself to look anyone in the eye while I was in the chair, and I felt like a microscope was analyzing and judging my existence as I did the activity. When I finished you asked how I felt up there and it was hard for me to make clear sentences through my panicked embarrassment. In those moments I realized that maybe I wasn’t as good with myself as I was constantly telling myself over the years, and it really has me thinking about what it means to be genuine and to be honest with others, but most importantly myself. I learned about a confidence that I may not have all together just yet, and I look forward to exploring what I may find when I do. That’s why I believe in two pieces of paper and a chair.

    1. You do such a good job conveying your emotions during this experience, Blake. And I really like TIB essays that have unexpected endings/beliefs...

  13. this i believe in summer time

    Get high and go on a dip, get

    real and drop our bodies

    between rolling hills as we

    feel our crotches tingle, gravity

    swelling below us, becoming

    the inappropriate kids we are

    smearing fogged genitals

    on the windows, laughing at

    our father’s political figures

    forgetting the console among us

    finding blue in that bluegrass

    stopping the car

    the side of the field

    we pour

    our soles

    into manure and

    shit and we see

    stars float over

    you, the moon,

    never looked so beautiful.

    if we stay for a little while, knot

    our shoes and lips tight, catch concrete

    underneath, will summer come towards us

    or do we pull the strings ourselves?

  14. It was my day off. You surprised me by taking me to a segment of the Legacy Trail to which I had never been. It was a lovely, sunny, summer day, with an incredible blue sky that matched your eyes.

    You kept walking ahead of me. You wouldn’t slow down, even when I asked. I didn’t feel like I was with you. I worried that you didn’t, in fact, want to be seen with me. You kept getting further ahead: 15 feet, 30 feet. At one point, you rounded a corner, and I couldn’t even see you for a good minute.

    I fell down. I shook, and I cried. Eventually...too long, really, you made your way back to me and asked what was wrong. Maybe you didn’t ask, maybe you just looked at me with confused and otherwise expressionless eyes. I would prefer to remember that you asked what was wrong.

    I was having an anxiety attack. Not the first I’ve had with you, and not the last that I would have. But it was the most recognizable. And the most out-of-place. There we were in the beautiful Bluegrass, on a beautiful day, and I felt like I wasn’t in the world.

    After some time and some mumbled, half-hearted comments, I got up. 10 minutes later, on the way back, I had another attack. Stumble, shake, fall, cry, repeat. Why couldn’t you see me hurt? Why couldn’t you try harder to fix me? Why did I expect you to? Why was I so goddamned sensitive? Why didn’t I just catch up to you?

    On the way back to my car, I took a photo with you. I faked a smile. You didn’t try. The photo was awkward and sweet, and it later became my profile picture on Facebook. I don’t know what that says about me.

    Before we got to the parking lot, I took another picture, this time just of you. You were walking ahead of me again. The sun was setting. You became a silhouette. The photo is amazing. Your long body looks so beautiful. Your face is looking back at me, and it scares me.

    I believe in the pain it took to figure us out. The pain ended us. Some love remains.

    I want more photos with you.

    1. This reflection is heart breaking... I don't know if you are comfortable giving it to the person you wrote it about. But I suggest you try. So powerful and so beautiful.

  15. (Clearly, I forgot to post my reflection...Good thing I read it in class, so everyone knows I did my homework on time!)

    I grew up wrapped in six centuries of hatred against the Turks.

    Once I outgrew stories about princes and princesses, this sentiment filled the books I read: books about Bulgarian maidens who killed themselves rather than accept the love of Turkish men. Most of the folk stories we studied in school had the same ending: chased by the richest man in town, a Turk, the Bulgarian girl escapes to the top of the hill overlooking her village. With no exit in sight, she jumps off a cliff rather than give in to the darkness behind her. From that day on, every time the villagers look up, they can see the maiden’s young body in the outline of the hill. Her self-sacrifice becomes proof of their resilience.

    Growing up atheist in Communist Bulgaria, I didn’t know I was fed folklore that mixed nationalism, religion, and love into stories of hatred. I did know to avoid being “Turk-like.” We knew what my grandmother meant when she walked after my grandfather, muttering “Don’t be such a Turk!” whenever he strode too fast for her to keep up. Her scolding delivered a plea to slow down, to allow her to walk next to him. She was taller than him and struggled with weight most of her life, and I still don’t know which of the two embarrassed him more. I came to associate being “Turk-like” with having no concern for the feelings of others.

    My anti-Turkish upbringing was challenged when I came to America. I learned the virtues of tolerance in college classes I took in my first American year. I broke bread with students from Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Cyprus, and Germany. My closest friend was from Palestine. Together we learned to date, attend potlucks, balance checks, and break up the American way.

    Twenty years later, my American president orders me to wrap myself in hate again. I believe in the America I embraced twenty years ago, a place where Saudis and Israelis cooked macaroni and cheese whenever we ran out of food money.