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 19, 2017

TIB #9

Same as always - post your ninth TIB essay here before Tuesday's class, and be prepared to read it aloud. I hope you all had a restful spring break - only four more weeks left in the semester!


  1. I remember watching whey drip from cheesecloth sacks that draped low from a loose knot tied around the tall faucet in the kitchen sink. I remember the squeaking sound of fresh curds on my teeth when we persuaded our mother to let us have a few before she finished making them into cottage cheese.

    I loved climbing high into the apple tree behind the stream. We filled rough plastic feed bags with apples and made enough apple sauce to last all year. Months later when served at the table the very center of the bowl would still be frozen. Everyone wanted that frozen serving of apple sauce. It was nice to cool your insides against the dry heat of the wood stoves that I had to keep supplied with hand-split wood throughout the winter.

    I took frog eggs into my first grade classroom so everyone could watch them hatch and grow. We raised monarch butterflies on the porch and my mother brought a baby pig to show the other kids in school. The pig was probably a runt. We raised runts in the house until they were strong enough to survive with the other pigs—indeed until they were too tall to fit comfortably under the dining room table.

    We made our own butter when I was a child, and I found a churn much like ours in an antique shop when I was fifteen. It was at least ten years newer than the one we were using and although the technological advances in the crank and paddle structure looked useful they were not worth $150.

    I was sometimes embarrassed and sometimes annoyed by the fact that my life was nothing like my classmates. They had television, video games and blacktop driveways. I have memories that belong to someone twice my age, and years later I know that specific details of these memories mean less to me than the story they tell of my childhood.

    I believe in antiquated memories.

  2. When I was in eighth grade, I learned that a theatre a 30-minute drive from my house held open auditions for all their shows. As a person who had wanted to be an actress since the age of eight years old, I was ecstatic. A few short months later, one of my best friends and I went to audition together. Though it turned out that time that I was cast and she, unfortunately, was not, we both eventually ended up getting cast in future shows, along with most of our other best friends.
    Sitting there on that first night, I never would have imagined the impact this theatre would have on me, my friends, and my life. Though the number of shows we've all done there is fairly limited, my friends and I still go there occasionally to see shows when we're home for breaks. We all gained a lot of appreciation for musical theatre beyond what we knew before those first auditions. For years, and even until I got to Transy, I thought acting was my true career path. I never imagined I'd change my mind about that. But I did.
    Though I still adore plays and musicals, and would likely not pass up an opportunity to do a show again, I realized I have more of a love for visual art than I was ever aware. So here I am, attempting to put together new artistic ideas for what I want to do after college.
    Though things are very different now than I imagined they'd be when I was thirteen, I believe in Paramount Arts Center... and I believe in changing my mind.

  3. To open the reception, the bride and groom were introduced for the first time as “Mr. and Mrs.” before taking their places at the focal table. They walked across the dance floor as “September” by Earth. Wind, & Fire played over the DJ’s speakers. This was a sly message to the crowd that included grandparents, mothers, younger siblings, and friends. It is unclear how many knew beforehand, how many understood the reference, or how many made the assumptive leap after the small wedding. September is the month the baby will arrive.

    Speaking with the groom just a day before the ceremony, I could tell how eagerly he anticipated this next step. He obviously was not the slightest bit nervous about the upcoming wedding, rebuking all stereotypes of cold-footed bachelors. The young man nearly shook from excitement when he broke the news about his impending fatherhood, divulging the name he and his then-fiancée had already chosen for their son. He acknowledged the speedy nature of the wedding and apologized for creating a distraction during the basketball frenzy of the moment. We, of course, did not mind, especially considering the obvious excitement with which he waited at the edge of his future.

    His optimism was much more comforting than annoying, as expected from the often-polarizing individual. However, it did feel strange to witness the disparity in feeling and expression at the reception. Why were these two young lovers, obviously ecstatic about their surprise opportunity, forced to stifle this good news for the sake of a few audience members? Why did arbitrary social conventions prevent them from fully reveling in their fortune on a day dedicated to their love? However, older relatives’ opinions and children’s pervasive questions did not prove to be a barrier to happiness as they were to openness. Everyone in the room may not have known the details of the couple’s near future, but other common knowledge persisted: that of the undeniable love between them. I believe in first dances and joy amid others’ disapproval.

  4. My cousin Isaac wanted to be a physical therapist. He didn’t get into the school, though, and so he moved to Colorado and started growing a warehouse worth of weed. His mom went out to visit him, found out about it, and I guess convinced Isaac to do something else. He then started mining his own rocks and crystals and began making jewelry he would sell on facebook. He gifted my brother a crystal years ago for his birthday. I’ve never received anything from him. Isaac relocated to California and started working in a shop where he could sell his rocks and his jewelry. He also had a store on etsy.

    I saw his posts on facebook one night and had a weird urge to own something from him. I found a pendant I could afford, with a stone I liked, and I bought it. When messaging me about the order, he called me niece. He’s done this before, when I’ve written on his facebook wall for his birthday. He is my mother’s brother’s son, so there’s not really any room for confusion about the fact that we are cousins- he is not my uncle. I told my mother about this habit of his, and she admitted she thinks he believes he is his father, who is dead.

    This theory is supported by all the posts he’s made recently about how he is the fire. My uncle Clayton died in a fire. Isaac recently changed his profile picture to him scattering Clayton’s ashes. Someone commented on it, “littering?” which made me feel so sad and weird.

    Isaac traveled to Costa Rica for a week and has been back in California for less than that. No one knows what is happening, but he’s rapidly tail spinning. He is now officially experiencing homelessness. He is posting videos and numbering them out of 10,000. One of them is a 6 minute video of him dancing in a bar at 3:30 PM by himself. None of his statuses make sense. People who know him out there are commenting saying he has been scaring people, and they want to know what changed.

    My aunt Kynda, his mom, is out there with him right now, trying to convince him to come home. He is refusing to. He asserts that he is happy. It seems impossible, but who am I to say? In one of his videos he talked about heading west and ending up in Kentucky, so maybe he’s just going to take the long way. The last time my aunt Lori saw him, Isaac told her he only had so much room to care about things, and that she didn’t quite make the cut. If she doesn't, obviously I don’t. Will I see him again? Would he even recognize me? I keep telling myself he’s going to be okay, but I don’t know if I believe it.

  5. Fresh, fluffy snow blanketed the ground. Even after an entire night of precipitation, snowflakes continued to gently and gracefully fall from the sky. I was hesitant to disturb that peaceful, perfect image, yet I could not resist the call of the woods. I layered up as best as I could, wrapped a scarf around my head, strapped my hiking boots on, and ventured out into the whitened world on my own.

    The wind made the trees around and above me creak, occasionally dumping snow from their heavily laden branches. My breath, visible, puffed out in front of me. My boots softly crunched through the snow underneath. Blessedly, I was somehow not cold. Perhaps I was too in awe of my surroundings to really notice.

    I stuck to the visible trails for the first fifteen or so minutes before I started to veer off and forge one of my own. It led me to an old, rusted barbed fence. The bottom wires had been removed, leaving a big enough space for me to crawl through to the other side. I left the woods behind me and found myself at the top of a hill with a glorious view of the nearest mountain ridge. The wind stung more here, but I stood there for a long time, drinking in the mountains’ beauty.

    I ventured further into neighboring pastures before I returned to the woods. I found myself on another path, one created long before my visit, and it led me to the center of the woods. There stood the Grandmother Hemlock - an ancient, massive tree with long branches, which extended over twelve feet in all directions, creating a circular clearing around its base. Nestled in its roots was a small, clay figurine, perhaps a symbol of homage. I could not sit at the base, for even the snow found its way under the tree, so I stood in awe, staring up at its multitude of branches. Who knew how long this matriarch had been here, silently watching over her dominion, unchallenged?

    My ears started to sting from the icy wind, and it felt like my nose had turned into a block of ice attached to my face. It was time for my to hike back to the retreat center before my body got too cold. I cast one last glance at the grand tree before I turned to the path back. Later that day, as I reflected on my little adventure, I felt restored, as if something inside me I had been neglecting had been nurtured back to life. I found myself wanting to one day stand as tall as the Grandmother Hemlock: grounded and strong, a pillar of silent strength upon whom many can rely.

    I believe in the restorative power of long, wandering hikes in the snow.

  6. TIB 8

    I am very involved on and off campus, just to name a few: I have three jobs, I have work study, I am in Alpha Omicron Pi and hold two positions in it, and Jr. Panhel. I am in even more but am not about to list it all off, to have to keep track of all this would be ridiculous. I could not live this life without my planner, it is a huge part of my life. At the beginning of the year I had a planner that was simple and only had the day and I had to write in the time the event was going on. And it was challenging getting it all in the little box it provided. The more the year went on the more things I got involved with and the more events I was aware of going on at Transy. Even though I had a planner it was still hard to keep up with everything, until I got a planner that had the day laid out in hours. It goes from six am to ten pm and it help everything be a little more organized in my life. I continued to write all the events and things I was intending to go to out on the planner but then everything is color coded now from when it starts to when the event ends, which is great, because the colors help me to better focus on what is happening next and how much I can fit in to one day. This is a great way to help me organize my life. And that is why I believe in planners that are broken down hourly.

  7. I am told she and I are like twins.

    I am flattered though I don’t know how she and I might be twin-like.

    To begin with, I am taller than her. Much taller.

    I am also older than her. I should probably say much older except I never consider our age difference. She is my friend and that’s that.

    It’s true. Both of us favor dresses and skirts. I always see her wearing a long dress. Though she has seen me wear pants once, everyone knows I am a skirt-kind-of-person. The second time we share coffee, I tell her I want to wear dresses more often.

    Though she and I don’t wear pants, we are marked by a visible—some will say insurmountable—difference: Nada wears a hijab. Because we met and still see each other in public, her face is always framed by a head-cover. I love looking at her face: as if composed for a photograph even when she bursts out laughing. I tell her and her sister I want to take pictures of them whenever I see them.

    We do have a connection I cherish. Though Nada’s name is spelled with an “a” in the middle, it is pronounced the way “Neda” is, which was the name of my maternal grandfather’s mother. Baba Neda, as we called her, died when I was four. I don’t know if my only memory of her is something I made up or a true story. I remember her at the dinner table, sitting upright, an old woman wearing a black headscarf, the way old peasant women still do in Bulgaria. I grew up hearing stories about Baba Neda, my grandfather’s family’s matriarch.

    No one knows Nada and my grandmother share the same name. So I ask: How are Nada and I like twins?

    I am told both of us are fierce fighters. We fight back when things don’t seem right or good, when injustice threatens the world.

    I believe in Nada’s fighting spirit. I believe one day her voice will carry loud and strong over a sea of people gathered to hear her. Tonight she addresses a church hall full of Christians. Like me, they hang on to every word she says.

  8. “Oh just do it!” you yelled at me while I stood at the top of our high dive at the Transylvania pool. “Fuck you! I’m not gonna” I threw back as a response which was met with the typical “Oh come on! You can do it!”. See I wasn’t a stranger to this banter, it was in fact something that our relationship was mostly comprised of. It’s how you got me to go rock climbing as many times as we did, despite the fact that I would shutter and yell about it the whole time. It’s how you got me to go outside and play whatever new game you had found or come up with, although you knew, and I made it very clear every time, how much I didn’t want to go outside. It’s how you got me to always pay for the pizza you wanted to order, and how you always got me to take your plates up at the caf. I mean one time I lost a bet where I had to run naked into the ocean in front of the swim team, and I fell on face on my way to it! This story in particular all started when you got me to do a 1 and a half, and then to my objection that soon became a two, and, as I should have expected, you wanted me to do a two in a half. As usual I vehemently objectified, but as I’m sure you(you the audience) gathered by hearing how things have worked out thus far, that I ended up doing it. Everyone gathered around the pool, and we made sure that someone was taking a video. I took three big step ups to the tip of the board, then I tried my best to perfectly time and place my two jumps. After my second jump I flew upwards, tucked my body inward, and prayed that I sent myself forward with enough forward velocity to complete the rotations. What felt like the three longest seconds of my life, ended with my fast smacking into the flat water. I had failed. The pool erupted with laughter, and I struggled to get to the edge of the pool because my head was throbbing and swimming. Although like this incident, I was sometimes pushed to an uncomfortable dangerous edge, I still miss the adrenaline of those moments, and how you got me to believe that I could do some outrageous things. For that I thank and remember you. I believe in appreciating the good moments of a not so entirely good past.

  9. One week
    One old house
    One new house
    Two heavy couches
    Four solid wood bookcases
    One iron bedframe
    One wooden bedframe
    Two TVs
    352 books
    4 sets of dishes
    What felt like 720 cardboard boxes that in reality was more like 72
    Countless stairs
    Aching muscles
    3 stubbed toes
    4 mysterious cuts
    1 not so mysterious bruise
    Seven trips to and from Cynthiana and Nicholasville
    Two warm furry cats on one bed
    One smiling pup waiting at the door.
    Two grandparents helping out
    Two parents
    One brother
    One family all together under one roof for the first time in a long time
    One great week.

    I believe in the countless rewards of helping and spending time with family.

  10. this i believe in pugent sound, for i bet
    it bellows in the local’s mouth
    and salts the bellies of the harbor seals

    how many cups of caffeine keeps
    them warm as the wind is full of drizzle
    can every apartment see the reasons
    why they settled, for the horizon of their
    God of Mount Rainer, the God Mount Rainer
    peaks praised and reconsidered with each sip of silence?

    do the children normalize it’s power as they
    swing over dewed grass, wish to land
    on the steeple of their city? Has their mother
    dared the same? When the sun comes out
    on one of the forty-two days it has, does the
    beach become a nude park? Do they dig for
    sunglasses and poetry?

    this i believe in pugent sound, for i bet
    it will swallow me like a cocoon, to first settle,
    then erode and at last cradle -
    my mouth full of salt.

  11. Spring break started out great a weekend to myself. I could sleep in and watch movies all day knowing that I had to work the next week. Monday roles around and I get the horses ready to teach new campers. Only two this week but still excited to show them how to ride. I was told they were all day campers which should have meant they were over the age of 6 yet when they showed up one was four and the other was eight. Both had the attention span of a nat.
    Monday was so awful I almost quit at the end of the day. the only reason I stayed was because I needed the money in this. They wouldn’t listen couldn’t figure out how to turn their horses. The youngest wanted to be lead around all day. Both wanted to get off and back on ever 15 minutes to warm up or go to the bathroom and I was left standing in the cold holding their ponies. Of course they would not understand how much time passed each time they got off and 15 minutes later they would come out again. As the week went I was able to spend most of my time teaching the older one by putting the younger one on a horse that didn’t really move and let him figure it out while the older one went to ride on his own and started to learn to jump.
    Off the horses was the worst part. They didn’t want to learn anything that had to do with taking care of the horse only wanted to draw and play horseopoly. I have never played so many games of monopoly in my life as I did in the week. Back on campus I was able to relax and not have to worry about the kids that shouldn’t have been at camp that week. I believe in paychecks and end of breaks.

  12. “Hello Stranger” by Barbara Lewis. A slow, nervous glance toward Chiron. Chiron looks up at Kevin and is entranced. Has this reunion become the stuff of their fantasies? The scene is unlike anything I’ve ever seen; I am entranced.

    Alison looks at her dad, only a memory now. She confronts him with questions he cannot possibly answer from the grave. Was Bruce so ashamed of her attraction to women that he killed himself? Was he tortured that he as a gay man was never afforded the kind of liberation his own daughter would feel in a new age? The stage has never seen such an intimate, complex moment. I feel like I’m getting hit by a train.

    Ennis says goodbye to Jack after their time together on the mountain. He doesn’t know if they’ll see each other again. He tries to act nonchalant and detached. Jack drives away. Ennis runs into an alley and throws up. His torment makes my stomach twist and my face hurt.

    Prior faces the angels in Heaven. Despite being abandoned by Louis, despite contracting AIDS and facing a society that couldn’t care less if he lived or died, he rejects the offer of infinity in Heaven. He rejects the notion that the world must slow down. He begs for more life, no matter how painful it might be. I found myself here, in these pages, in this character.

    Moonlight. Fun Home. Brokeback Mountain. Angels in America.

    I owe so much of my being to these dynamic pieces of literature, theater, and film. Some of them knew my heart before I did. They have taught me. They have reassured me. They have saved me. In their own way, they have changed the world.

    I believe in representation. I believe in seeing myself in art. I believe everyone needs a mirror fashioned by those who love and create.

  13. As I pull drywall screws out of the wall, leaving a constellation of pea sized holes, I think of all the times my dad would hang pictures in our house. He always made sure to hang things on the studs in the walls and refused to move pictures around at the whimsy of my artist mother to minimize the damage he inflicted. My father is a very particular man. I grew up watching him repair things, putting them back together in such a way that they were stronger than they ever were before they were broken. I grew up in a house that was taken care of by someone who was invested in it. My whole childhood I listened to my dad grumble every time we drove past an apartment complex about how renters don’t take care of their homes. Never has that been truer than the house my boyfriend lives in now. It’s owned by friends of ours and when they moved to a bigger home they decided to rent out this one. The first renters put exactly 39 holes in the bedroom walls. They hung curtain rods that are painfully crooked and painted most of the house an awful brown color without asking. They did all of these things with hardware and paint of the cheapest quality possible so the walls are now streaky and full of holes. Two of the kitchen cabinets had to be replaced because their dogs had chewed the corners off them and we found dog food in a light fixture. They let their cats pee on the tile floor in the basement and now every time it rains, urine smells penetrates the whole floor of the house. Despite all of this damage, this house will look great again soon. In exchange for cheap rent for the next few months, we have agreed to repair all the damage, repaint, and help get the house ready to go on the market. I believe in spackle.