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 4, 2017

This I Believe #4

Same as last week - please post your fourth TIB essay here before Tuesday's class. Don't forget to bring a printed copy to class and practice reading it aloud.


  1. I feel safe when I am in Cincinnati. Most of my friends live on the same stretch of road and I can imagine myself walking from one apartment to the next, holding each hand when I get there. I imagine all of us together and we are all happy to see each other. On a couple of occasions we do get together in a larger group, but it has never happened with all of us. So I usually just try to balance my time and see as much of each of them as possible.

    At Erin’s, we split a massive bottle of wine (that had been left, unopened, at my apartment on New Year’s) with Callie. We sit in a circle and take turns talking about our trauma. We all cry, but none of us sob. Callie remembers the old eggs in the fridge and we climb out the window onto the roof. It is misting so we take tiny steps. We each get two eggs and the first is a practice throw- into the parking lot just past the alley next to the building. The sound when they hit is satisfying and we consider the parking lot again, but we want the second one to mean more. We waddle to the other side of the roof, the side that faces the street, and we get ready to throw again. Just before we release, a group of young women passes in our range. We stop each other from throwing, we know we would miss them, but we don’t want to startle them. They pass quickly. We throw our eggs. I believe mine goes the farthest.

    The next night when I visit Andrew, who lives a 10 minute walk away, he shares his favorite videos with me, and after a couple drinks, he begins to teach me how to play the clarinet. He says that my embouchure is nearly perfect but my fingers are too small to actually cover the holes, and that I will never actually be able to play. He stands in front of me, teaching me to a play a scale, pushing the keys that I can't reach, both of us celebrating when I hit the lowest note. We met in middle school through band and it is nice to know that we can, even for a moment, return to it. His cats greet me at the door, one of them lifting his arms straight in the air until I pick him up. Maybe he knows I am the one who thought of his name. Andrew and I are better at disagreeing, both of us laughing by the end, both of us getting better at admitting defeat.

    Mick’s apartment is a new addition in my line of friendly homes. He is just 5 minutes down from Andrew. He lets me crash when I’ve waited too long to start my drive home. We sleep elbows to wrists, forearms touching, our hands loosely intertwined. He gets dressed for work in the morning without turning the light on. He tries to wake me when he leaves but he doesn’t try too hard. When I leave I make his bed, and he thanks me over text when he gets home that evening. When I am not near him and my hands smell like clementines I think of him- because even though we met at the wedding, we got close at the cabin, and late at night we peeled them together, leaning our backs against the kitchen sink. We passed each other slices in the dark. It feels like the exact same thing when at dinner Mick uses his spoon to point at the last blueberry on the creme brulee to indicate he wants me to have it. I eat it and I smile, trying to express that I understand each small gesture of kindness, and am grateful.

    I believe in the complex intimacies of friendship. Small and plenty as they are.

    1. What a beautiful, tender reflection, Katie. I hope that you will share it with Erin, Andrew, Mick.


  2. Back in high school, during the summer, we played beach volleyball everyday. By we I mean my teammates, my adopted family that I spent most of my hours outside of school with. Even after all the hours together in the pool, the jokes, laughs, cries, thoughts, and dreams could never stop being shared between us. They knew more than anybody else that I hated the sun as I never left the house without telling them, but they could always convince me to come along day after day until the sun went down. On one occasion we had ended up at Kirklevington Park. Our volleyball games had expanded to include the family members of our friends, a myriad of identities and languages would fill the court. We played a few sets before realizing that in the distance a storm was starting to bew. Not wanting to stop now, we kept on hoping that we could finish another game, or that the storm would pass on. As we played on, the rumblings of the now, much, much closer storm began to make us question whether or not one more game was worth the possibility of lightning strikes and being stuck in our cars for the remainder of the would be storm. We didn’t even have time to discuss the nature of our stay before what was now a behemoth purple body blocked out the clear sky above us. The trees blew and the wind whistled around our bodies, with the nets flapping vigorously back and forth among us. One would think at this point we would pack up and go home, but no we decided that we craved some Canes. The rain began and I rushed to my car and started the long 3 mile journey to Canes on Nicholasville Road. This what is usually a safe and quick travel, was now the most dangerous drive I’ve ever done. With windshields on high, the only reference to any type of road were the lights coming off of the streetlights, and the cars around me. This wasn’t unlike the many times we drove through ice and snow to reach each other, resulting in quite a few car crashes, but the laughs ensuing would always outweigh the temporary struggles. I finally made it to Canes with relief that I was still alive. Laughing about our experience and eating our chicken fingers, I couldn't've been happier, especially because I knew who never finished their fries and who always gave me their texas toast. Although what we did was entirely unsafe and dangerous, I never felt more alive than I did doing the daring things I was always pushed to do by my friends. Those times have past, but I will always believe in Volleyball, Purple Clouds, and Canes.

    1. I like your detailed descriptions--they really do make your experiences come to life.

  3. When my family goes to the beach, we almost invariably go to Holden Beach, a small island off the southern coast of North Carolina. It’s been a tradition ever since my dad and his brother were little boys. The Atlantic Ocean is colder than the Gulf, where most Southerners tend to visit, and it doesn’t have that gorgeous blue-green hue to it, but I prefer the former over the latter. Must be the nostalgia.

    There are very few attractions in Holden Beach, but I like it that way. We spend nearly 14 hours traveling to the beach every other summer, so we may as well stay on the shore as long as we can before we are summoned back to reality. I pass the time making sand castles, going on walks along the shore, and swimming in the cool water. For a week, I don’t have to worry about growing up.

    It’s tradition to end each day of the week at the aptly named Yellow Cottage, an ice cream store and miniature golf place on the mainland. Neither the ice cream nor the course are especially remarkable - it’s just the way it’s always been for my family, and none of us see a reason to change that.

    This summer, I discovered a secret on the beach. My family usually stays on the west side of the island - there are fewer houses there and therefore less people hogging space on the beach - but I convinced my dad to go on a walk with me on the east end. Splashing our feet through the incoming tide, we looped around the eastern tip until we were facing the mainland, a good mile or so beyond the residential area. I spotted a colorful mailbox, nearly hidden by the brush, with “Holden Golden Memories” painted on the side. It overflowed with all sorts of papers, crinkled by the salty ocean air - stationery, a bent notebook, sheets of loose paper. Each contained notes from locals and visitors alike. Some were love letters, others were uplifting quotes, and others still were shameless self-promotions of social media accounts (the times, they are a-changin’).

    Neither of us contributed to the collection, but I wish I did. The next time I go there, I think I will, though I have no idea what I will write. Traditions have to start somewhere.

    I believe in family traditions - particularly the ones that involve going to the beach.

  4. There are a lot of things on Facebook these days that make people mad. Social media has turned into the middle school cafeteria where everyone is just waiting for the next fight to break out. I do my best not to engage in conflicts on the internet as I don’t think anyone has ever changed their opinion because someone called them a dumbass in a comment. The Facebook posts that make me truly furious aren’t the ones about politicians or international policy; they usually go something like this “6-month old black and white puppy needs new home. Good dog, very sweet, can’t keep her, $400 OBO”. They show up on Facebook yard sale and Craigslist every day. I understand that sometimes people adopt dogs and then their financial situation changes or they move and their new landlord said no but many of these postings are coming from people who never should have adopted in the first place. Every year around Christmas I go to the animal shelter and there are hardly any animals there. Part of me is thrilled about this. Animals getting adopted should always be an exciting prospect but part of me is furious because I know that many of the puppies and kittens adopted right before Christmas will come back to the shelter in a few months. They will be returned by people who “never thought he would get that big” or parents whose six year old son “just wasn’t taking care of her”. But despite my anger towards those who adopt pets with little forethought and then return them the moment it becomes inconvenient for them is nothing compared with the fury I feel toward people looking to make a profit off of their pet. Those people care more about making a little money than whether or not that animal goes to a safe home. When you adopt or buy a pet, you are committing to taking care of that animal for the rest of its life or at the very least until you are genuinely no longer capable. I believe in responsible pet ownership.

    1. Me too. And it's a good thing my grandmother liked the puppy I got my parents to buy me when I was in middle school. She became the responsible pet owner I was too young or naive to be.

  5. TIB 4
    Growing up I was in love with Disney. Disney movies, toys, theme park, etc. you just couldn’t go wrong. I would watch Disney movies every chance I got and I would attempt to sing along. Disney is where your dreams come true. My love of Disney has become a great obsession. I watch Disney movies all the time while still singing along, I listen to Disney radio every chance I get, and I try to persuade my family to take vacations to their again every year. Everyone else has seemed to outgrow it but I haven’t and I do not care. Disney is just the best every, but out of all the Disney movies and cartoons, only one has stayed my favorite throughout the years. I can recite the entire movie and its sequel. Two worlds that join through a romantic love, with beautiful music. Yet, she gives up her amazing voice to the evil sea queen. Love is sacrifice and striving through the imperfections. This movie makes me smile and want to sing every time I think about it. I try to live my life like her, in a way, to strive for the things I want and to see a different world outside what I am used to. I catch myself day dreaming about what it would be like to be the best princess ever, especially when I am on the beach. I believe that The Little Mermaid is the best Disney movie ever made.

  6. I think I’ve grown to be afraid of my emotions.

    When I was diagnosed with depression around one-and-a-half years ago, I started to remove myself from situations that I did not enjoy or took me to unhealthy places. Somewhere in that process of restructuring my life, I let one of my greatest passions---theater---take a backseat to my now selective group of priorities.

    Until the beginning of this semester, it had been over a year since I had performed or even had to think theatrically. And then, as a senior theater major is apt to be, I was tossed back into the raging currents of this art form. I didn’t want to be.

    Every day for the past month, I have hesitated before leaving my room to walk to theater class or to a Neo-Futurist workshop. I knew such activities had the potential to be emotionally-taxing or to involve me going places in my psyche to which I had not been in a long while. I didn’t want to go there.

    As the first few weeks of this semester have gone by, however, I have found myself growing increasingly eager to attend to my theater-related business. I began to remember the person I once was, the person who was so intimately in-tune with his emotions and on any given day was cognizant of every loop and curve of the roller-coaster of being alive. I began to remember how to make these currents into art in such a way that revealed my identity to an audience and held up a mirror from which they could view their own selves.

    I think I’ve reached the point in my recovery from depression where I can start to put the old me back together. Instead of being the somewhat cynical person/artist/academic I think I’ve become, someone who is less prone to “feeling,” I can be the same, vastly curious, endlessly moved individual that I once knew and love. I just have to be careful to not put myself back together with the shards of depression and anxiety that were once interwoven into my ware. And I suppose my greatest fear is that by pushing myself to the ridges of artistic exploration, those shards will once again enter my bloodstream and throw me off the proper course of my life.

    I’ll be careful going forward.

    I believe in theater and its ability to communicate and inform the human condition. I believe in its ability to bring my full self to life. I’m trying to not be as afraid.

    1. Do not become an academic! (Look who's saying that...!) I hope you can continue to not be as afraid.

    2. Oh my, this was beautifully said

  7. We carried Kentucky everywhere: to the Panera 2 miles off the West Virginia highway, to the Queen City Creamery in downtown Cumberland, MD, to the mile-long ticket line for D.C.-bound trains in College Park, to a train full of men, women, and children wearing pink hats with cat ears.

    I carried Kentucky when two women from Ithaca asked where I had traveled from. They wore matching hats that said “Ithaca Up.” Their surprise that I had come from Kentucky was audible. They asked what it was like to be gay in the place where I live.

    I held Kentucky close in a metro station named Archives. When the too-hot-too-crowded boy next to me started to cry, I gave him a pink-and-red home-made button. I hoped it might distract him from a place so packed with people, they had to turn off the escalators so our weight would not damage them. The boy’s mother told me she had never been to Kentucky, that it’s not where Black people like to go. She thanked us for traveling so far.

    I carried Kentucky across 4 states, 20 hours of driving, and car conversations that ranged from chicken coops to tattoos to women’s rights in Latin America. Kentucky was part of our car lunches and a late dinner consumed in front of a hotel TV that allowed us to hear words we had missed while riding a too-full train. We carried Kentucky though we were born in places as far away as Bulgaria, Mexico, and what used to be Czechoslovakia.

    But most of all, I carried Kentucky in my first march. The man with a young daughter on his shoulders kept chanting “This is what democracy looks like.” His daughter fell asleep half way through. We interwove our arms so we would not get separated and we walked on. We walked for justice, compassion, and love.

    Ten hours away, Kentucky, too, walked. On the TV I saw images of the same words that had surrounded us in Washington but held up on North Limestone Rd in Lexington.

    I believe in Kentucky, where people stand up, resist, and work to change what they won’t tolerate.

  8. As the great Michael Scott once said, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” Against my better judgment, luck plays a big role in my daily life. Rarely do I ignore a penny lying on the street, a sprinkle of spilled salt, or a clock displaying 11:11. While I am fully aware that these actions have no consequence on the real world, I could never miss an opportunity for better luck, fewer misfortunes, or an unlikely wish.

    In my family, superstition is deeply entrenched in our lifestyle. At our intersection of Irish and Southern roots, I grew up hearing stories of my ancestors’ beliefs. For example, my maternal great-grandmother allegedly thought that every step one took with only one shoe on took a year from one’s life; My mom often tells of the time in her rebellious youth when, to Granny’s horror, she ran in circles around her home, half-barefoot, proclaiming “I should be dead by now!” More than anything, though, these superstitions have given my family opportunities to relate to one another. Being huge sports fans, my immediate family all know the procedures of the rally cap, halftime seat-switching, and wearing the same unwashed jersey for several games in a row. One of my fondest memories with my father was the half-hour we spent in the backyard one October Sunday afternoon before a football game catching drifting maple leaves for good luck.

    Now that I am for the most part away from home, my superstitions have been a link and a way of reinforcing optimism. Each time I throw salt over my shoulder or avoid walking under a ladder, a bit of anxiety disappears as I attempt to take hold of some agency amid life’s chaos. My dorm nightstand hosts a growing collection of lucky pennies. Each one has been on a journey through an unknown number of owners before me: forgotten, found again, celebrated, and carried around for a day before being added to the collection. This pile of coins is worth much more than its copper content. Rather, it is a solid reminder of the days that have been made from the tiniest of coincidences. I believe that life is best lived heads-up.

  9. Cold weather on a rainy day was not something really questioned. But in the middle of June it was something of a spectacle. The temperature was below 30 and the wind was harsh. Layers upon layers of jackets and raincoats but no umbrellas, as we would spook the horses if we had them. Wet boots, wet socks, wet everything. Not even an hour goes by and the rain has turned from constant wetness to torrential downpour as I am helped by the young girls from my farm tack up and ready to ride. Wet boots, atop soaked white pants barely covered by the jacket traditionally worn.
    Cold hands, cold ears, frozen toes the wind blows harder as my horse and I jump some warm up jumps along with the others in my division everyone is moody and cold. Numbers are quickly called out and those people are quick to jump and return back to their barns but with that mindset many were eliminated or fell off. The small group of children that helped me were huddled together under a tree waiting out my ride time and wanting to be supportive despite there parents pleas to leave while the roads were still clear. It felt like an eternity till my number was called and was ushered down to the arena now starting to flood, I picked up my pace quickly and rushed every jump not worrying if we would hit any at that point I didn’t care I just didn’t want to fall in front of the young children from my barn who stuck around in the storm to watch me ride. As we finished just within the allowed time my horse and I were both shivering but the others were there to help get both my horse and I out of wet clothes and tack and warm up with blankets and jackets. That show was not one of my best but because of everyone that was there was one of the more memorable ones. I believe in cold weather and second families.

  10. You would think two things that belong together wouldn’t try to destroy each other. It would seem logical that say for instance, a tooth would be nice to the mouth it lived in since they are supposed to work together. They each have a similar purpose and do similar jobs and yet… For the past three days my tooth most wise has decided it has a huge problem with the location of the inside of my cheek. And to punish the cheek, my tooth has been working with its friends to chew my cheek until it swells and is impossible to not chew on. This creates further issues with doing things as simple as chewing food or eating anything remotely spicy or minty. Forget about eating anything too hot or cold either! That would just upset the balance of order set up by my cheek in response to the tooth’s taunts. But alas, this has just become a bigger vicious cycle in that the pain caused by my cheek, the tooth is not allowed to chew much of anything. And if I do chew anything, my cheek radiates pain. If only the world were a better place in which two things that are supposed to get along could work together rather than being vindictive and spiteful to those that annoyed or hurt them. I personally think that we all could use a bit more love and fairness in the world rather than injustice and cruelty. I believe in cooperation over petty vengeance and spite.

  11. After slicing a bagel made board-stiff by its 24-hour vintage, I push both halves into a toaster too often adjusted by others who prefer bread barely warmed. I toast it twice. Covered thick with cream cheese old enough to require thin skimming to remove the top-most mold-developing layers, the two halves of my bagel don’t fit neatly onto the antique plate—yellow rimmed, with a painting of a small moth and smaller ladybug.

    My right hand, laden with a laptop, twists to maintain the shoulder shape needed to balance one strap for a camera bag and another for a quilted lunch cooler. My left hand, in charge of carrying breakfast, fits the foot of my bagel plate over the thick lip of a tumbler filled with orange juice. I hold the juice glass below the bagel plate and pull the inside door open with my foot. My son steps out before me.

    I believe at times you have to eat small sticks and a bit of gravel with your cream cheese because your bagel is launched from the top of a breakable-dish-tower when the screen door slams against it, because your teenage son doesn’t know screen doors shut faster when cold mornings condense the air inside pneumatic chambers built to maintain predictable pace to closing doors.

    I believe day-old bagels and screen doors conspire to make Friday mornings harder than they are intended to be.

  12. This, she believed, in grandmother’s
    blackberry jam. This saint of summer
    stickied her fingers, the butterknife smooth
    against her palm. She’d melt her mouth
    around the sugary tart toast, peel her eyes
    back, her shoulders arching
    towards heaven, towards the kitchen wall.

    The blue light out of the window,
    angled itself on the tile in front of her and
    made it an early morning without a complaint.
    August has had it’s fair share of hot days,
    and she was glad to lay her hand on the screen
    react with goosebumps and thoughts of sweaters and long sleeves.

    Maybe you’ve known, a girl like that;
    all soft, gooey-eyed and blushing?
    A halo of rooted love surrounds her.
    Appalachia thickened by coal songs
    days that pulse like a rocking chair
    sing in the sweetness of these summer berries
    picked and shaped into a favorite sermon
    teaches the city girl of quiet, gentle love.

    1. all the images, but especially "gooey-eyed"...

  13. I never really understood the American Farming still this last summer. Most of my time in American was spent traveling City to city: from DC to California. One of the things I found out was that food is there it does not matter if it's in season or not, food is there in the Walmart and Kroger twenty-four seven. I asked myself how big these farms are. Thought-out my traveling all I saw on the side of the road was corn and soybeans .inset of me, I feel like if I had time to travel to the rural I could see all these farms that grow this beautifully tomato and plan radishes, a route, apples and all thing I in the Kroger.
    The rural are have a special place in my heart there remind me of my grandparents and-and all I would eat that from the grass they had grown in my hear the rural area where the haven of fresh food.
    This last summer I went to southern Kentucky this time I went there to live like everyone there my first thought were I can't go to you eat fresh I cannot where to see low down life. Eviy where I looked corn and more corn and soybeans. My first question I was where does the food you eat come from “Walmart” my childhood dreams are gone I cannot longer go the haven of freshness I can no longer move from a neighbor to the other seeing more different food grown I can no longer climb the tree to look for the best fruit. I believe fresh home was grown

  14. I believe there should be a third day in the weekend.
    How? I'm not sure.
    Maybe turn Monday into a permanent weekend day.
    Or Friday.
    Either works, really.
    I believe that weekends are often busy.
    Most people I know spend them doing homework,
    attempting to catch up and get things done on time for the next week.
    But I often see that there just isn't enough time.
    To me, weekends are about taking a break from the prior weekdays.
    But instead, weekends are often scheduled full.
    I'm not sure why we have 5 weekdays and 2 weekend days,
    But I do know this:
    I believe in lazy Friday evenings, full of the knowledge I won't have class the next day.
    I believe in Saturdays and Sundays, spent trying to get things done.
    (I believe in the feeling of checking things off my to-do list.)
    But I also believe there should be more time.
    Just one more day, to allow for just a little bit more downtime.
    Time to catch up with friends and family.
    Time to explore Lexington freely.
    Time to really study French so I can learn it the way I want to.
    Time to finish that painting I started three weekends ago—
    (I believe in art—
    I also miss it.)
    I believe there should be a third day in the weekend.