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 11, 2017

This I Believe #5

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


  1. From the very moment I arrived earth side my brother, Robert, was determined to find a way to get rid of me. He got the chickenpox two days before I was born and he had to be kept away from my mom and me until he was totally healthy. When you're three, ten days away from your mom is an ordeal. So when he finally got his mom back and discovered he would have to share her, he started hatching plans. When we dropped my grandma off at the airport when I was a month old, Robert broke through security chasing after her yelling "Grandma, grandma, you forgot your baby." Up until I was three he would offer to give me to every babysitter we had. When he realized no one was going to take me willingly, he decided he would have to force someone's hand.

    We were driving to Arkansas to see my grandparents and my mom took us to the Pink Palace Museum. In the gift shop, I asked my mother to buy me a rose quartz egg. She said no and as any mischievous four year old would do, I pocketed it. We were on the road a few hours later when I pulled my new treasure out to look at. Robert saw right away and began demanding that my mother turn around immediately and take me to the police. She refused. He pouted.

    I was a pain in his ass for fifteen years. He never wanted me to play with him and his friends, I was never allowed to borrow his things, and anytime we had to be in the car together for a long while he would complain endlessly about how annoying I was. Even now he fusses at me to be careful when I borrow his stuff and gets testy if I spend too much time around his friends. Despite all that bickering and all the threats to give me away or rat me out, I believe in big brothers.

    1. You are clearly a very kind and forgiving person, Elly :).

  2. I have been known to laugh at
    appropriate times and
    not-so-appropriate times.
    It’s a bad habit of mine.
    Some people drink,
    others smoke,
    I laugh.

    As far as coping mechanisms go,
    I believe mine is
    arguably better than some.
    I tell myself
    it could be worse.

    But that doesn’t change the time when
    I had to film a skit for a class project with
    a partner. We had barely finished the scene before
    I burst into my
    giddy, giggly bubbles,
    eliciting in response his own
    uneasy, frustrated snicker.
    (Sorry, Drew.)

    In the end he
    removed all evidence of my outburst with
    a somewhat stilted cutscene and
    a slightly awkward transition.
    It’s not that the scene itself was funny -
    I am just self-conscious on camera.

    I didn’t know how to tell him that
    nervous laughter is an unfortunate habit of mine,
    or that he hasn’t been the only one to
    reprimand me for being so damn giggly,
    or that I wish that I could put the
    stopper on the bottle of
    my anxiety and
    throw it away from me like
    some sort of
    metaphorical Molotov cocktail,

    because that’s not something you can just tell a person.
    So instead,
    I laugh.

    1. A beautiful poem....but you don't say what you believe in.

    2. Reading this about a week after writing it, I agree. To put it clearly, I believe in laughing as a means of coping with anxiety, even though it may make a situation more uncomfortable. An unconventional coping mechanism, but, as I may not have made clear in the poem, one I believe is better than more harmful means.

  3. Years ago I heard a radio program while in the car with my mom. We like to listen to story/narrative based radio shows when we go on drives together, and they have all blurred together over the years, so I can’t be sure when I heard it, or where we driving from/to. This one was by a man who had traveled to a village in Africa. I wish I could remember where specifically, but that’s as much as I know. While there, he met a woman who was in charge of performing a ritual that was supposed to cure depression. There were a lot of steps and it took several days, and was physically and emotionally exhausting, but it supposedly worked.

    This man was immediately interested because he had been struggling with severe depression for a while. He must have earned their trust somehow because even though this was not something that was open to people not from there, they allowed him to be the recipient. I can’t remember any of the steps except the last one. It involved him repeating a phrase over and over in their language that roughly translates to, “please leave me alone to do what I want in my life, and know that I will never forget you.” This was to be said as if he was speaking to the evil spirits in his life, those that were causing his depression. He was so moved, so touched that his depression needed to know that its impact and purpose were acknowledged and valued. I have always been comforted by this. I believe I will always be.

    I would be lying if I said I hadn’t repeated that phrase to myself before. It is reassuring. 4 years ago Maura wrote to me about how she hopes my depression grows tired of my hospitality, describing my relationship with it as “leaving the light on for it,” and I still have days where I wonder if she’s still right.

  4. People say that words are our best tools for communication. Regardless of what language we speak, or if we know more than one, words are the tools we use to communicate when facial expressions and hand gestures aren't enough—and, of course, these things aren't enough most of the time. We are left with only verbal language. Sometimes, as humans, we make short references to how limited we are in our ways of communication. We say things like "words can't describe..." and "I'm not sure how to say this..."
    We are simultaneously aware of words' limitations and yet forced to continue using them, since they are still our best hope.
    • • •
    I have become heavily dependent on words in the last few months—more so than usual, I think.
    Dependent on my words to convey how I was feeling.
    Dependent on others' words to help me understand how they were feeling.
    But sometimes, you just end up digging a hole and filling it with all the things that got lost in translation.
    Sometimes, the people who usually understand you the most still misunderstand you.
    Sometimes, we misunderstand the people who we usually understand the most.
    We think people have changed because of their words.
    We think people have changed because they use no words at all.
    Sometimes, we're wrong about this. Sometimes, we’re right.
    Sometimes, it's just a gray area, and you have to accept that there is no clear answer.
    Questions are quick and easy to ask—
    It's the answers that take strength
    And time.
    • • •
    I believe that words are our greatest hope in communication—
    But I also believe that, sometimes, words fail.

  5. TIB 5
    Dogs are a man’s best friend. Man, does not just mean a man it means a woman too, I believe. I have never lived without a dog, my entire life; I couldn’t imagine a life without one and would not want too. The first dog I ever lived with was there the day I came home for the first time from the Hospital where I was born. His name was Gizmo, he was a feisty Pomeranian, who lived with us in our little Arizona apartment. I do not remember much of him, just what I have gathered from pictures. I was much too young to know exactly what happened to him, but what I have come to learn is that we could not bring him back to Kentucky with us. The next dog that entered my life was Jasmine, we finally found a house to live in, in Kentucky. Jasmine was in my life for 18 years, she passed away recently and I am still devastated by how she is no longer with us. She was there from the first day of kindergarten to high school graduation, but she won’t be there for my College graduation. I had more than one dog at a time, Jasmine was around to meet all my dogs. Belle was my first dog we got when I was old enough to understand how to take care of one. She was supposed to be mine, but after a year her and Jasmine couldn’t get along so we gave her to my Grandpa. She came into my life as my birthday present and passed away two days after my birthday a year ago. Russell I had for about a week when my dad decided he was too loud and got rid of him without telling me; I found out when I got home from school my second grade year, he had sold him. Then came along Sophie, she is still around but is getting old. She came into my life, because my dad finally let me have a dog at his house. Then my dad got started dating my current step mom and she had two dogs, Dusty and Connor. Dusty passed away after being in my life for six years and Connor is still kicking it with Sophie. At my mom’s, Jasmine was still young and vibrant when I got Abagail. She was my first German Shepherd, I got her when my mom and I moved into our first house, but she didn’t make it to see one. She got a rare virus, parvo, which killed her. I still cannot look at photos of her. The thought of how much pain she was in and her journey, devastates me. Two years later I got Bailey, she is now seven years old and is more energetic than ever, I got her a couple days after my birthday, with my birthday money. Then the dog that I have never felt a stronger connection with Cassidy my first full blooded German Shepherd. I got her for my sixteenth birthday. I have loved all my dogs, and writing this has brought up a flood of emotions but I know I will see them again. My dogs all have a piece of me no matter how old I was or how long I had them. A piece of me lived and died with everyone them. I hope my impact on them was as strong as their impact on me. I believe that my dogs will be patiently waiting for me over the Rainbow Bridge.

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  7. I scroll through my camera roll trying to pick the right photo for whatever hashtag, day of the week, or holiday calls for today’s post. I struggle to find one that I like enough to deliver to my humble number of followers. None of them are especially bad, but in each one I see something that a filter can’t quite cover. My stance is unflattering. My smile is exaggerated. Chocolate, enthusiastically received as a gift moments earlier, returns as a visible burden on my teeth. After two decades of posing for pictures, I still never know just what to do with my hands. Candid photos look stiff, posed ones look unstable.

    Since graduating from high school a year and a half ago, I haven’t been able to get away from engagement, pregnancy, and wedding announcements on social media. Each one is perfectly staged, the beauty of the photo just as perfect as the news it is sharing. Today, Valentine’s Day, I prepare for a slew of heartfelt messages and gift inventories, each with a perfectly structured, vibrantly colored picture. I share in my friends’ joy, but I can’t help but feel a little jealous of their photo-studio life.

    I may not be able to keep my eyes open for pictures 100% of the time. My smiles may inadvertently come across as snarls every now and then. But the photo has no effect on the life it tries and fails to capture. Blurry pictures are sometimes a result of a laughing photographer. My eyes are often hidden by the creases that accompany a radiant smile. Visible blemishes cannot mar the elated expressions that have crossed that same face. My hair doesn’t fall perfectly in place after an excited hug from a long-separated friend. For these reasons and so many more, I have ended my pursuit of an Instagram-perfect life. Instead, I aim to notice more often how these imperfections really are indicators of my success. Then, of course, to let the likes roll in.

    I believe in a life unedited, unfiltered.

  8. I honestly can’t find the ways to put down what I want to in a storytelling format so I’m going to explore(attempt to explore) my thoughts with a poetic list.

    I believe in 5.50, gays in a dorm room.

    Eight Eyes Tearing Up
    Eight Cackling Laughs
    Six Brothers
    Six Red Faces
    Five Ethnicities
    Four “Bitch!” In the Good Way
    Three Laptops
    Three Seniors
    Three “Gurlllll!”s Said Aloud
    Two Desks
    Two Beds Bunked
    Two Juniors
    Two Instagram Videos Played
    One City
    One College Campus
    One Dorm Building
    One Dorm Room
    One Open Library
    One Sunken In Futon
    One Laundry Basket
    One Carpet
    One Bottle of Wine
    One Understanding
    One Good Time

  9. let me believe i love you

    the open heart surgery got the best of me
    the scar, lifted and pink, carved
    where they made a crater under your ribs
    you told me this was the second time.

    in the ICU, a plastic tube bowed
    out of your mouth, lips like lavender
    iodine still fresh on your skin, i told them
    not to lift the sheets,
    please don’t lift the sheets.

    at twenty your heart sat outside you
    the fleshy pig valve recouped with metal

    which clicks and clicks and clicks
    and clicks and clicks and clicks and

    drove you mad that you could hear
    you working again, you were mad
    you were working again and at twenty
    your heart sat outside you and so
    did mine because i did not know

    sadness was a side effect that
    drinking was a side effect that
    abuse was a side effect but you
    let me believe I loved you
    just because you cried my name

  10. Four friends around a kitchen table.
    One friend periodically gets up to pull cookies from the oven while the others continue talking.
    The clock continues to keep its steady pace but the friends do not care to notice.
    Cookies and memories are shared round the small kitchen table.
    The mood is content and comforting.
    It has been a long time since all four friends have been around this table at the same time.
    I missed this feeling. The feeling of simple comfort and friendship.
    Four friends around a kitchen table.

    It’s not that we’ve been in a bad place in terms of our mutual friendship but there has been something keeping us from spending as much time together this semester. Last semester we all had a class together and so we were guaranteed at least a little time all together but this semester we all have varying schedules. There are weeks when I feel like I haven’t seen one of my housemates for days even though we share a house together. We’re all constantly coming and going from the house and to classes, work, and other various activities that sometimes I wish we could all just find a moment to sit and talk. That’s why last night even though it wasn’t a very interesting topic per say or a dedicated time scraped out to spend together, it nevertheless meant a lot to me. These three people are some of my closest friends and I miss being able to talk to them as long and often as I’d like to. Unfortunately the nature of life is chaos more often than not. But that makes the moments of simple stillness all the sweeter. I believe in late night banana chocolate chip cookies and psychology debates held by four friends around a kitchen table.

  11. Once a month every month we would get together. Though there was a designated book we always strayed off into other books and tv shows. We would sit together in a big circle talking and laughing in our own separate conversations. Though this time we weren’t too loud, the pizza machine next door roared over our small chatter as we contemplated our society. The book was Giant Days and though it discussed day-to-day interactions in a small community we couldn’t get our minds off the bigger problems. December had been cold and though we were a small group we held strong against the others who dared to tear down our group.
    The shop held many patrons with many women but most being men and many did not approve of a women’s only book club especially when talking about comic books. Through the election there were many times when frequenting the place became too much to bear as men would discuss whom they would vote for and that Captain America and Iron Man would also vote for their choice. Despite the distaste from the men we continue to meet. Its one of the few places I truly feel safe and wanted for who I am. The group is full of caring and nonjudgmental women who truly love comics and how they relate to our societal problems now.
    This month we sat together smaller than usual and stayed relatively quiet about everything that is happening now. This month we talked about our favorite book that truly makes us happy. Many brought political books but I brought Seconds from the creator of Scott Pilgrim VS The World. It brought a sense of relief to the group as we got to talking about the artist/creator instead of everything else. This month we didn’t even hear the pizza machine next door as we talked about what we look forward to in the future. I believe in Book Clubs.

    1. So glad to know you have a good book club. I love how you describe it.

  12. Twenty minutes into my son’s first basketball game, I left for a walk. I have never enjoyed the role of a spectator when other people play sports. I would rather move my own body than sit or stand while others jump, run, or dribble a ball.

    But really, my departure was prompted by intense ambiguity about my son’s involvement with a basketball team. I had pressured him to do it exactly a week earlier when, on a mild winter Saturday, he pressured me to shoot baskets with him. I had been vaguely aware that he likes to shoot baskets, that he might even be good at it (more than 2 years ago our neighbor to the left had offered to be his agent as a money-making venture for her). Yet, until I shot baskets with Nicholas, I had not realized how good of a shot he had.

    So I did what every loving parent and responsible citizen ought to do: I encouraged him to pursue something he enjoyed while lecturing him how life is all about team work. “You’ll almost never work on your own,” I told him. Because I approximated the right amount of pressure, Nicholas conceded to play on a YMCA team. It would be casual and relaxed.

    Indeed, Nicholas’ team was relaxed, coached by two UK sophomores whose big smiles lit up the court. When they told me they had never played basketball, I assumed they were pulling my leg. “My brother loves to play basketball,” one of them said as a way of establishing her own coaching credentials. They had indeed never played basketball. Their team, the Warriors, was fun and relaxed.

    Not so the Grinders during Nicholas’ first basketball game. That was when I had to walk out. I left because my son didn’t have the drive that moved most of the boys on the other team. They chased after the ball, trying to wrestle it from the opposing team, exercising muscle and verve. One needed a dose of aggression to do well in that game.

    Twenty minutes into my son’s first basketball game I wondered if it was going to damage his gentleness. I like that Nicholas feels no need to tussle with someone over a ball. I like that he likes to smile, that he can spend hours shooting baskets alone, that he points out the fun patterns made by a few drops of spilled milk. I like that he isn’t aggressive, that he hasn’t yet learned competition.

    I don’t know if I believe in basketball. I do believe in the big smiles of two women who help kids to have fun on a basketball court.

  13. My sister looks so graceful, tall, and commanding as she stands among over a hundred teenagers on the overwhelming stage of Louisville’s Whitney Hall.

    I am sitting between my mom and my dad, who are divorced. I am the wall between their failed marriage. I know that I might have been the trigger to that separation, but I was not the cause. I didn’t think about that when I was sitting there. I worried that someone would mistake us for a happy, complete family unit.

    As my sister’s voice blends with the dynamic and disciplined sounds of the the Kentucky All-State Choir, I am fascinated by the complexity of the three hymns they sing---from different styles, continents, and eras---as a single, resounding unit of praise. My mom cries at a slow, somber lullaby. My dad is too busy taking photos to enjoy the music.

    My family is divided, but still we have a dedication to love.

    I feel like a caretaker for my mom and my sister. I don’t know why I do. I don’t like feeling that way. But in many ways I am. Whenever I come home, I am exhausted by the stresses of their daily lives. Do they ever rest? Do they ever catch a break? Why are their lives so difficult? How do they manage when I am not there?

    My aunt once suggested that I like to be in control. That made me feel like a misogynist. Like I was asserting my masculine dominance over my mother and sister because I needed to control them. I don’t think I agree with my aunt. I take care of my mom and sister because somehow, with all the shit I’ve been through, I am put-together, more than my dad, mom, or sister.

    I don’t have money troubles. I don’t fear the future. I don’t have crippling medical conditions. I know how to make decisions and how to plan. I can manage myself.

    If I didn’t help, my family would be worse off. I am very likely moving any number of hours away from them. I don’t know if my mom will ever be okay with that. My sister is moving to college.

    My family is divided, but still we have a dedication to love.

    I have a growing fear that my mom will die in her sleep (or falling asleep at an inconvenient time) and nobody will be home to help her.

    I have a fear that my dad will never be happy. I can’t help him with that, but at least we’ve learned to be kind and respectful to each other.

    I have a fear that my sister won’t survive college. I’m only a phone call away. I don’t call her enough.

    We meet my sister in the lobby after her performance. We are so unbelievably proud of her. She is happy with her performance. We take photos together. For a few minutes, the four of us are united again, with smiles and warmth. My mom and sister soon go back to their hotel. I go out for drinks with Dad and stay the night with him.

    I believe my family is divided, but still we have a dedication to love.

    1. I love that you read your reflection in class. And I love your reflection.

  14. I don`t know why I do this every time before a speck to group of people. I have found myself talking to people that are older than me college professor, and high graduate student. Though I may know what I’m talking about, I feel smaller and think maybe I should not talk but I can’t help myself if I feel something I have to say it. The point I’m getting to is that the last few week I found myself disagreeing with some of the people in the room and hate to be the only one that see it. On Thursday The Lexington Community leaders had a meeting and I was there, the discussion was on police about police and members of the community that feel unsafe with the police around and the police political climate in the county , looking at it on a smaller scale to our community one pastor said something like this “ the police should have a goal of number of black people that are in police. As mu voice rise and the time was all most time to go. “ if the police where to have this number of black people that mean there will not have to go look for more black people, are we just a number or you putting us in this box as black people that we can only this much in society.