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, March 26, 2017

TIB #10

Same as always - post your tenth TIB essay here before Tuesday's class, and be prepared to read it aloud for our guests.


  1. Like many couples, my boyfriend and I have very different taste in movies and TV shows. I like movies about relationships, movies where two people fall in love or a son finally reconciles with his dying father. Robert prefers movies where at least a dozen people are shot by a very buff guy with aim so good it’s statistically impossible or the entire plot revolves around people driving cars and blowing things up. I am not remotely interested in watching nondescript, buff men drive Dodge Chargers and blow up buildings in a way that defies physics and Robert is not interested in watching two average white people overcome some self-made obstacle and fall in love. So when we scroll through Netflix looking for something to watch, we have a hard time finding common ground, or at least we did before we discovered stand-up comedy. We used to take turns picking movies. I would pick something I liked and he barely tolerated and vice versa. It wasn’t a system that really worked for us so we started to watch comedy shows instead. We both enjoy hearing the details of John Mulaney’s encounter with Bill Clinton or how Ali Wong accidentally slept with a homeless dude. Twice. I don’t have to see any explosions, he doesn’t have to see anyone kiss in the rain and everybody is happy. Stand-up appeals to nearly everyone because it’s really just a way to tell everyday stories. In most people’s everyday life, nothing catches on fire and no whirlwind romance takes place. Instead, people cut you off in traffic, you leave your keys in the doctor’s office, and your kids embarrass you in the supermarket. These stories are relatable and that’s why they’re so funny. They lend some humor to the things you have to do every day and make things a little more bearable. I believe in stand-up comedy.

  2. One night, early in August Term, I was alone in my room. At some point, I got up to let the blinds down and close them. At the window, I pulled the string and they began to slowly fall. But if you've been to my room, or know my roommate, you probably know that she owns six small plants—all of which make their homes in our windowsill. Since it was so early in the year and I had not yet had to let the blinds down, I was unaware that one of the plants lives right in the same line as where the blinds fall. Before I had time to notice, one tiny cactus went crashing to the ground. It fell behind her desk, which is adjacent to our windowsill and heating unit. Next thing I know, there's soil on the heating unit, behind her desk, and all over the floor underneath it. In the moment, I was thankful to be in the room alone—my roommate and I had barely met, and I didn't want this to be one of her first impressions of me in real life—but I quickly realized she could walk in at any moment. I began to try to solve the problem, and noticed I'd never gotten a broom or vacuum. I wondered anxiously why I'd left WalMart without one of the two. To make matters worse, the plant had fallen out of its pot, and it was a cactus, meaning I couldn't actually even touch it. I thought back to all the dorm materials I had gotten and remembered my box of plastic spoons and rolls of paper towels. I pulled the materials out. I sat in the floor, quickly trying to get as much soil out of the floor as possible with them, and used a paper towel to move the cactus back to the pot. The plant was extremely uncooperative because the soil had become so unlevel in its fall, but I managed to get it back to its proper place in the windowsill before my roommate returned. I told her what happened later, but to this day, the cactus is still kinda tilted in its tiny green pot. I don't think there's a way to help it. But the soil is gone, thanks to a plastic spoon and some paper towels. I believe in dorm supplies.

  3. Ever since I was old enough to hold a crayon in my hand, I was one of those children who was constantly drawing. Somewhere in the storage building next to our house exists a photo album dedicated to pictures of me crafting at the dining room table, wearing my favorite pajamas, looking rather pleased with myself. I was dedicated to the art of coloring books and finger painting. I enjoyed it so much, I disappeared for nearly an hour one day. This, of course, sent my mother into a panic while I was holed up in the laundry room, contentedly coloring our dog with markers as she ate directly from a giant bag of dog food (there’s a photo of that floating around somewhere, too).

    As I got older, I started to channel my energy into drawing. I would fill up several sketchbooks a year, mostly with drawings of my favorite characters from the cartoons and anime I watched. I eventually created my own characters too and obsessed over creating their own stories. This evolved into writing my own fiction, when the books I read and shows I watched were not enough to satisfy me. I constantly had new ideas, but hardly ever did I have complete stories.

    Then came 8th grade. I figured it was high time I started to get into theatre. So I auditioned for a small part in a local youth theatre program, and I even got to play part of the production’s original soundtrack on piano. That, in turn, sparked my interest in playing with a music ensemble, so I stepped outside of the box once again and joined concert band, despite not really knowing how to play anything besides piano. The rest, as you might guess by my music major, is history.

    Though I am primarily a musician today, I like to define myself as an artist. I still write original stuff (even if it is a weekly class assignment or a venty journal entry). I still doodle in the margins of my notes when lecturers get monotonous. I still like to hide between the curtains backstage before walking out to perform. Truthfully, I would not be my full self if I had to pick only one of these things to pursue, so I choose to pursue all artforms that I can, when I can. I believe in art.

  4. the summer of frankie cosmos,
    mango curry,
    my bogus-ass heart.
    there is still dirt under my fingernails
    from the makeshift home we built together.

    lightning bugs fill the trees
    and nathan says it looks like a stadium
    where thousands of people are snapping our photo,
    we all agree and then turn to build a fire.

    i hover my hand over one of your eyes
    and i call you elle driver. i believe david’s voicemail
    has been full for years. arms out and face first,
    we walk into the rain.

    white snail shells greet me at the shoreline-
    my finger hooked around my car keys, my shoes,
    pebbles filling my palm already, you pick it up,
    offering it to me in your outstretched palm.
    it lives on my bedside table.

    the tent collapses around us.
    unashamed and sacrificial
    you float along the tree line.
    gradually the fireflies fall asleep.

  5. I rode my bike to the farm where my father was raised. I swam in the hole he dug with his brothers. Four children stretched this slow-moving stream into a pool: water warmed by the morning sun and, now, filled with leaches. Submerging into the soil that fed him, the stream rises again into a spring, shaded by the tall trees at the edge of a forest across the road. My father once left his toy rake here, balanced in the crotch of a small tree.

    We climbed down slick rocks shaped like stairs and found the stone he discovered as a child, cut by time to form a fountain. I sipped the water and imagined myself in another place as my brother offered a drink to our cousin from a beer can he filled with urine and left earlier to cool in the shaded stream. Above, the braided red and white pattern polychromed on the pressed steel of my father’s toy rake was still visible though the tree had long ago absorbed half the handle.

    Years later, I came home from college to build a stone wall at the base of this soft staircase of water, a passageway I now recognized as the work of the Mohicans who carved the earth as my father had with his swimming hole. Drowning in quiet for the weeks I worked in solitude with wet rocks, I thought about my father’s rake: barely visible in the side of a tree still growing swiftly, long spring arms sprout fresh leaves stories above the rusted toy. The pieces of his life were dissolving.

    A small rusty elephant watches as my wall tumbles, the stones relocated by the waters that end each winter. A braid, kept colorful by memory, wraps itself around the elephant and reaches deep into the center of a tree just now finding purpose.

    I believe in relics.

  6. In between my junior and senior years of high school, I had the privilege of spending five summer weeks making amazing friends, gaining a few inspirational role models, becoming acquainted with dorm room life, and reflecting heavily on my educational journey. Each year on the three campuses of the Governor’s Scholar Program, young learners enter a community of no pressure, enlightening classes, intellectually-stimulating fun, and personal acceptance. Undoubtedly, that summer was the greatest of my life so far because the people, conversations, and emotional moments made it so.

    The seminar class was by far my favorite, in which fifteen or so students from across the commonwealth were led through a five-week course in examining who we were, what we believed, and how we could better our communities upon returning home. For the first time in a formal setting, I got to not only discuss my personal beliefs, but I was prompted to listen to others’ varying opinions respectfully. I grew with my classmates as we learned together about privilege, stereotypes, each other’s personal struggles, and ways to move forward. Throughout this often-difficult class, we always knew we could depend on our seminar leaders for support. The most powerful moment in the class was the day I spent outside in an arboretum reflecting on how I had grown in my ability to analyze, contemplate, and respect the opinions of others while holding strong in my beliefs. I’d always been afraid of silence, but a small seed of appreciation was planted that day that I am still trying to water.

    This summer, I will be trusted with leading a seminar class of my own, in addition to the other administrative duties of program RAs. Admittedly, I am quite nervous about my ability to encourage respectful consideration in a group of high schoolers who, like I did, think that they already know it all. Because I know the powerful effects that the class can have on an individual, I am terrified that I will do an inadequate job and deprive a student of the opportunity for growth. However, I am confident that I can connect with my scholars and encourage them to be more accepting, thoughtful, and aware of the issues surrounding them. Just by bringing one student to a position of more open-mindedness with surely make all the nerves worth it. I believe that five weeks can make a huge difference in one person’s life. I believe in learning with others about one’s self.

  7. One day a Little Rabbit decided she was tired of being a rabbit. “I hate my boring brown fur and floppy ears. I wish I had a coat as beautiful as the brilliant red Fox’s fur and ears as small and dainty as the Squirrel’s.” So the Little Rabbit went out into the forest and found some red berries and long grass. She smashed the berries into a paste that she smeared over her brown fur and tied her long floppy ears to her head. “Now my coat is red and beautiful and my ears don’t flop around,” she thought happily.

    But just looking not like a rabbit wasn’t enough, “I want to sing like a Bird,” she thought, “I’m tired of being quiet all the time.” So the Little Rabbit sat up on her hind legs and began to wail in her attempt at singing. Her ‘singing’ attracted a Bobcat who was in the forest. As the Bobcat approached, the Little Rabbit continued singing. The Bobcat was at first surprised to see the red, ears tied down, wailing creature was in reality a rabbit and he began to laugh. The Little Rabbit could not hear the Bobcat though due to her ears being tied tightly to her head, so the Bobcat continued to stalk the Little Rabbit from behind. Just as the Bobcat was preparing to pounce, the Little Rabbit turned and saw the Bobcat. The Bobcat sat up and smiled saying, “You have made my job very easy, Little Rabbit. You might have avoided my attention if you weren’t so loud or colorful and you might have heard me if your ears weren’t closed.”

    “Please don’t eat me!” cried Little Rabbit.

    The Bobcat laughed, “Eat you? You are a pathetic little thing aren’t you?” The Bobcat looked at the Little Rabbit covered in dried berry juice and sighed, “Fine I won’t eat you but only because I just ate earlier. But for goodness sake stop trying to be something you’re not or I really will have to eat you next time.” With that the Bobcat turned and stalked away.

    Little Rabbit ran away before the Bobcat could change his mind. She cleaned the berries from her coat and untied her ears. “Who knew my ears and brown fur were so useful and important?” she thought. From that day on Little Rabbit decided being a rabbit was just fine with her and she never tried to be something she wasn’t ever again.

    I believe in appreciating your unique talents and abilities.


  8. My roommates are great but all too quiet. Every time I am in the room they are always doing things on their own and in their own spaces. There is no atmosphere or community sense. I try to converse with them but they are always doing their own things and not really wanting to do anything else. Sometimes its suffocating being in the room with them and not being able to bring my friends in in a way it wouldn’t disturb them.
    Thankfully my friends live together and I am able to spend most of my time with them in their room. Even though we sometimes lay around not saying a word to each other it’s a friendlier atmosphere. One where there is no obligation to fill the silence with something to make everything less awkward.
    I leave some food in their room as well as my books and some games just so I don’t have to move them every time I go to their room. I spend countless hours in their room just hanging out and sometimes doing homework. The longer I spend there the less time I spend in my own room. On more than one occasion I have accidently woken up my roommates from coming back to the room too late. And on more than one occasion I have debated with myself whether I should just spend the night or not. Either way my friends wouldn’t mind if I stay or if I go.
    I believe in couch surfing.

  9. When I was growing up there was an amusement park close to where I live. My dad and I would get season passes every year when I was little and we would ride the same ride every time, Grease Lightning. It was my favorite ride and even though my dad barely fit in because he was too tall he got in every time I wanted to ride. These are my favorite memories from when I was a kid and now that I have a little brother I want him to have these same experiences. I also take my brother to the zoo every year because it is one of my favorite places in the world. I am a huge animal lover, and am actually planning on working with animals for my forever job. The experiences I have created with my brother from going to the zoo are memories that him and I will never forget. Last year we rode a camel for the first time and I know that I will never forget and he will not either. Through these experiences, it is a way I believe that you connect better with your family having fun and letting loose which can be hard to do when you are stuck in the same house with the same people all the time. I believe in going out with your family to amusement parks and zoos to create the best memories that will last a life time.

  10. I miss home sometimes. I can’t explain why, and I can’t reason with myself why. How could I miss the suffocating sparseness? How could I miss the feeling of being intensely-watched and judged in public for my queer appearance or that light kick in my step that reveals my gay identity? How could I miss having to craft another excuse to my grandmother as to why I wasn’t looking to date girls right now?

    I guess it’s the familiarity. There’s something comforting in being enveloped by people who have known you since birth; at the same time, I’m able to disappear in their company. It’s usually a relief---sometimes it’s a burden. Similarly, I kind of get a kick out of every time I have to explain to my family what art history is and why I’m studying it.

    I fear talking about money of course. My next trip home I’ll be budgeting the next two years of my life. Yay. I don’t like the money part of going home. I don’t like feeling guilty about getting little tips from my grandparents. I don’t like feeling guilty that my mom has to spend money on me for the week or weekend, when she generally only has the budget to care for my sister.

    There’s an odd sort of enjoyment I get from the elaborate “nights out on the town” my dad likes to plan for me and my sister, spending money he says he doesn’t have. Do we drink all that craft beer in celebration of our renewed relationship? Or do we do it because otherwise we don’t have much to say?

    My dog is perfect. Period. She is the constant happy factor in this experiment. When you are a member of a family with histories of mental disorders, things can snap from euphoric to manic quite suddenly. It’s good to have a constant like a loving puppy.

    I believe in going home. I haven’t in awhile. I am missing it now. It doesn’t have to make sense.

  11. I believe in Bird Songs

    I know I’ve already kind’ve written about nature, birds, and how cool the science behind both are, but I’m still learning knew things about them all the time. So I’m still going to write about them. On Monday in my biology class we began discussing the science behind bird calls. Like their many purposes, and variations. A couple of things came out of this discussion that I find wild and fascinating when reflecting upon how we as the human species exist and interact with each other and in reference to other animals.The first of those things is that bird calls and songs are sometimes understood within species just like how we understand languages, like each song call has a subject and a predicate kind’ve. What’s interesting even more within that is that some species even can recognize calls that mean specific things. For example, chickens like say “there is a hawk” or “there is a (insert bird name here)” and then as a group they react according to this specific. I think that is wild and cool because as humans we think so like within our own species, and we don’t often recognize that other types of animals have similar intelligences. Another example is that some parrots have names and they also recognize and utilize the names of other parrots. Learning this really opened my mind to being more aware about how we as humans interact and damage species that are aware of such things as language and names within communities. Now that doesn’t mean that I think we should damage living things that don’t have such capacities, but I think knowing things such as that can help people begin to think about species other than humans. And for that reason I believe in bird songs.


  12. Train rides once took me to Fort Matilda.

    The destination wasn’t decided until the subway ride to the station, until the elevator glided me to signs in scottish names scrolling in a capitalized orange. The left flashed the arrivals, the right flashed the soon departures, the information friendly yet demanding. I quickly scanned through the departures with my phone out in my hands, seeing if I can google enough information about a town in enough time to be convinced to go, by the ticket, and make the train before it wisped away. Fort Matilda seemed to be a favorite among locals. Although small it had a hill to climb which led to a view of the entire town and the brisk Atlantic. I was looking for some revolution inside me, and what is more metaphorical and blissful than climbing a hill and panting prayers over a dreamy scottish inlet.

    As a study abroad student, I had a lot of free time in Scotland. I would wake up early on a weekend morning and fill my blue backpack with journals, a film camera, a water bottle, and if I remembered, a hairbrush for the expected winds. I pulled most of these things out during the forty-five minute train ride. The trains are surprisingly quiet, as if the engine new that loudness would not fit with Scotland’s constant drizzle.

    Only a few other feet stepped out along with mine when the train reached Fort Matilda. The rain was here but soft. My GPS said I was a mile away from the hilltop and I did not mind. Halfway up the hill my favorite Scottish plant, gorse, greeted me with its prickliness and yellow bloom. Until now I forgotten it was Easter morning. Maybe that’s why it was all so quiet, why I was the only one pulling myself up to see a foggy seaside. Once I made I watched out for dog poo in the grass and found a safe place at the edge. I paused my music and breathed in the cold Scottish spring. I found myself homesick and I dreamed of my brother and my mother coming in slowly by boat, “oh that’s why they are taking so long to see me” I thought. Oh how I missed them. These sad thoughts did not make this moment more sad, but made it special. I felt alone when I looked at the waves but comforted from the thatched roofs of the little white houses. There they felt warm, and here I felt warm too. A jolt of sadness can make heart warm, only if you let it.

    This I believe in travel and self-discovery. Train rides once took me to Fort Matilda, train rides once took me home, too.

  13. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in an average 1970s Bulgarian household. Among other things, that meant we lived lives of simplicity—some may say poverty. In the fall, my grandmother pickled green tomatoes, red bell peppers, carrots, and gherkin cucumbers. They had to last us through the winter. There were no fresh vegetables available after the fall ended. In late fall, my grandfather made sausage by filling pigs’ intestines with ground pork mixed with spices. It took a couple of months for the mix to dry and acquire the taste we associated with long winter nights, home-made wine, and white bread purchased at the corner the store. In our society—marked by scarcity—generosity was a virtue. I grew up saying thank you whenever someone did me good.

    Or perhaps it’s because I grew up in a country trying to build Communism. The experiment failed in my teenage years, but we did learn to think of ourselves as parts of something bigger and greater. Until I came to America, I was never asked to consider my needs first. To the contrary, being young and female, I was expected to submit to others’ directives. Collective wisdom prevailed. And I was a good student. I excelled at considering others’ needs before mine. Thanking someone was acknowledging I had seen their effort and sacrifice.

    Twenty-one years later, my American friend says, “You always thank us.” She means this as a compliment. Of course, I am grateful to her son. Because he took initiative for something he didn’t have to do, I have made new friends dearer to me than people I’ve known for years. Because of him, my world has grown bigger and richer. My heart is fuller too.

    At times, I hear similar words tinged with frustration: “You always have to thank everyone.” I do. Because no one owes me anything. Because when people show generosity, it feels like unearned magic.

    I believe in saying Thank you.