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, April 2, 2017

TIB #11

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


  1. I’ve always loved theatre and working with passionate people to create something fantastic for others to enjoy has long been my joy. For the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to direct Shakespeare’s classic, Much Ado About Nothing. After the countless hours of rehearsal and planning, the show is finally coming together. It started to really feel complete with the completion of our 13-hour tech rehearsal this past Sunday. There’s a weird kind of spell that takes place when the actors walk from the darkness to be enveloped in the glow of the stage lights. They are no longer themselves but begin to take on a different life, one of another time or place than their own. No matter how experienced the actor, I’ve noticed that the stage lights, sound cues and costumes always bring the character to life more fully than before. As an actor I’ve experienced this magic firsthand but there is something even more beautiful about watching the people you’ve worked with for months transform in this way. But this transformation is the result of many passionate people working just as hard and long outside of the traditional rehearsals. Without all the dedication and talent possessed by the entire cast and production team of Much Ado this production would never have been able to come as far as it has. When the very first full run of the show finished I had tears in my eyes. All the hard work, stress and late nights were coming to fruition and I couldn’t be prouder of all those involved. I believe in the magic of tech week and the hard work of passionate people.

  2. I woke, at the second request of my alarm, from a dream of Jeremy Welcome, a man now—for sure—but living on in my dreams as the kid we knew unable to find pants or belts with the fortitude to cover his ass-crack, the kid who would offer his half-eaten orange sincerely after pulling it from under his bed where it sat half-covered in twice-worn socks and stuck in the crack that grew between the wide-plank flooring every winter when the dry heat of wood stoves tightened the grain of even the oldest boards. Summer now, the boards expand, the crack shrinks and what little juice remains in the peeled and shriveled orange that once filled the toe of a Christmas stocking is pressed through a small broken spot of skin.

    “If you step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.”

    Your choruses rang behind me as we walked to the car from swimming lessons, my eyes weeping from chlorine and bright sun. The car waited for us both by Tin Bin Alley and your self-fashioned song began with the ignition of mom’s Datsun.

    “Set me in a trap, CRACK, and I’ll never come home again”

    Another day you whined your way to the front seat as we delivered PennySavers. I bagged them from the back and passed them to you. Still too small to reach the sharp hooks we installed on each mailbox—to hold our deliveries packaged in clear plastic and pierced then left swinging in the wind as mom sped on to the next house—you stood on the seat to lean out the window. Your new role had earned you the front seat but it also made each stop last an eternity. You opened your seatbelt. You cranked down the window. You stood clumsily on the seat. You accepted the bagged newspaper from me. You leaned out the window and then realized that mom was not close enough for your short arms. She had to reposition the car. In the time you took to hook one package and prepare yourself to go to the next mailbox, we would have typically hooked four. Standing and reaching to hook one newspaper, you saw a butterfly. You wanted us to see it, too. Wanting, desperately, for you to bring your head back into the car and sit down, mom pulled you. Cracked on the rolled-down window, your lip bled. I got my front seat back.

    In the years you and I worked together painting, wallpapering, and renovating the homes of others, I saw you become a most skilled person of the third kind. Do you remember the three types of people?

    1. Those who sweep and re-sweep until every ounce of dust is in the dustpan
    2. Those who load the dustpan once then push the remaining dust back into the air with a quick stroke of the broom
    3. Those who find cracks and fill them with the finer bits of dirt not captured by the dustpan on the first pass

    Though we are now separated by years, great distance, and the silence of adult siblings, I know you still sweep creatively into cracks. I know your lip still bears the scar of a crack earned by your interest in butterflies. I believe in cracks.

  3. Bulgaria is not a country of huggers. We don’t smile at strangers. We don’t ask each other “How are you”? in passing. We hug only family members, only on solemn occasions.

    In Bulgaria, everything is weighed down by stories that stretch back into personal histories. The first time I returned after living in America for a year, I asked our first-floor neighbor how she was doing. Half an hour later, I had heard a story about her aunt dying from cancer and a daughter trying to make it in Denmark. The Danish did not like Bulgarians.

    I knew none of this while I was growing up in Bulgaria. I knew not to smile for pictures. Looking at old family photographs, I see the face of my grandmother looking straight at the camera. She is not smiling. I am not smiling either, both of us composed for a quick snapshot in the midst of a knitting lesson.

    During my first months in America I became an ethnographer. I observed everyday rituals and tried to guess at the motives. I watched everyone smile all the time, not just for photographs. People smiled waiting in line at the grocery store, at the library circulation desk, at the gas station. Everyone asked each other how they were doing, even strangers. No one expected an answer. Life wet on undisturbed by information about feelings and personal histories.

    Most of all I was amazed by college women returning to school for a new semester. They shrieked at the sight of each other and ran into each other’s arms, a hug lasting a full minute. They did this over and over again, a ritual to mark the end of a separation. The volume and exuberance of their gesture made me second-guess its sincerity. Americans appeared shallow, prone to prescribed emotion.

    Years later I, too, have become a hugger. Often, I hug people when I know words won’t do. At times I know I hide my feelings behind an American tradition that now welcomes me like home.

    Last night I hugged women who’ve become dear friends. Saying that to them doesn’t seem right. I stretch my arms around them, wishing them a good night instead. I believe they know what I mean.

    I believe in hugging, the American way.

  4. I took a nap in Connie’s room. At first I curled up at the foot of the bed, horizontal so there’d be room for the three of us. But Maura said she’d rather sleep on the floor, and Connie offered me a spot on the pillow. Before I slept, I noticed the spot on Connie’s back where just one year before Maura and I knelt over her with sewing needles and punched IT’S ME just below her bra line, only visible thanks to her open-backed blouse. The letters were mostly faded, the single line I had done the darkest one remaining. When I woke up I could hear Maura and Charles laughing in the kitchen.

    Later that same day, Devan rode up on her bike just in time to see us scrambling to fit photos in before mine and Charles’s Lyft arrived. Maura screeched at her to stop, wanting to snap a photo of her mid motion, bands askew under the brim of her helmet. (Devan loves helmets- she imagines all the ways her head could get squished when she forgets to wear one.) We all posed together and the car was a minute away. I hugged Maura first. Then Devan. Before I reached her she said, “Katie I’ve gotten used to you,” and I could have cried. We hugged and I cupped the back of her head. Connie was last. Then Charles and I were buckled in next to each other. We kept each other company, sharing fears and hopes, standing with each other through security, until finally parting ways in the terminal. He lives out west now, but he’s trying to make his way permanently back to Philly.

    Mick once asked me what my happiest memory was. The question frustrated me. I revisited it later, opting to make a list instead of trying to pick just one. Both of the above stories made the list.

    I’ve been thinking about survival a lot lately, and I believe my move to Philly is an act done in the name of it. I will have giant windows and Maura will be just down the hall. No spaces will be tainted. There will be no ghost lined streets.

  5. As I lay awake at four a.m. tossing, turning, aching, and sweating I think of my mother. When I was a child and I got sick my mother would wake me up every four hours to make me take Tylenol and whatever other meds she deemed necessary. It infuriated me that she would dare wake me in the middle of the night to give me a pill when I wasn’t evening feeling poorly at the moment. I was too young to understand that her vigilance was the exact reason I didn’t feel awful. So much of what my mother did for me when I was a child was met with resistance because I couldn’t understand that it was done for my own good, even if it wasn’t what I wanted at the moment.

    When I got sick, this escalated to a whole other level. The late night medication was the least of it. My mother is a very superstitious, traditional woman. She administered Tylenol and Mucinex and the like and she took me to the doctor if she thought I needed to go but she also had a slew of home remedies she threw at me regardless of my objections. The second someone in the house sniffled she would cut up onions and leave them in a bowl in every room of the house to “absorb the germs”. She made me gargle salt water every time I complained of a sore throat, a thing I quickly stopped doing since I objected to the practice. If she thought I sounded congested she would make me drink “tea” that was really a mixture of vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, and honey with a splash of tea. It was vile. While I may not take all of my mother’s healing remedies under advisement now that she doesn’t care for me when I’m sick but I believe in Tylenol at four a.m.

  6. I’m not sure what compelled me to buy a bag of sunflower seeds in the first place. I didn’t know anyone who did any sort of gardening, unless you count that one time our neighbor made a blackberry cobbler from the wild, untended bushes in her backyard. Nonetheless, I was determined to grow those sunflowers. Once the threat of frost was gone, I circled around our house several times before I found an optimal spot that would provide enough sunlight. I weeded the spot where holly bushes used to reside and planted the seeds there at the very beginning of summer. I watered them every few days or so, careful not to overwater them before they even had a chance to sprout. When I went to stay with my grandparents for a week, I even called my parents every night to make sure that they had taken care of my flowers. I was so pleased to find that they had started to grow leaves when I returned. I could hardly contain my excitement when the first one blossomed into a great yellow bloom, long after I had first planted it. I immediately took a picture to share with my friends. By the fall, the heads had grown so heavy that the plants were bent over in what looked like exhaustion. At the end of their lifetimes, we harvested hundreds of seeds that had come from what was originally only a handful.

    Four years later, I am growing flowers of a different kind. These flowers are beautiful, but in a different way, and I love making them. They need no water nor soil nor sun to grow. Their seeds come not from a package, but from the roots of my imagination and a plastic bottle. They will last much, much longer than my original sunflowers did, at least until they end up in a recycling bin. These flowers will not go in my personal garden, but will join hundreds upon hundreds of others in a garden of cement and glass, wooden planks and PVC pipes. They will honor the memory of several thousands of men and women who were enslaved against their will. The purpose of this artificial garden is not just to bring attention to our city’s darker history, but to remember the lives of these people. These flowers are significant not for their beauty alone but for the lives they are honoring, lives which were once considered insignificant by society at large - but we know that way of thinking was and is wrong. This garden is not enough to undo the suffering that enslaved people endured, but hopefully by sharing these flowers, we are taking steps toward further breaking down those invisible, rigid barriers that still stand to this day.

    I believe in flowers, organic and plastic.

  7. Language arts has always been among my favorite subjects. In grade school, reading, spelling, analyzing passages, and informative writing were a blast for me. I loved the organizational aspect of vocabulary and purposeful writing exercises, and I took any chance I could get to be taken away to different worlds through the written word. Despite now knowing its evil nature, standardized on-demand writing tests were perfect for young Carrie, and I enjoyed putting together the puzzle of effective informative or persuasive writing. Restate the prompt, list and explain my points, conclude with a call to action. Simple, really.

    What was not simple was what came around Christmas time every year, personal narrative assignments. The annual struggle did not vary too much. The initial days of brainstorming consisted of me wracking my memories for an interesting event from young adolescence that someone else would want to read. Nearly every year I came up short, convicted that nothing in my life was worthy of becoming a narrative. Unlike my classmates, I had never broken a bone, traveled to a faraway place, had a baby sibling, moved to a new town, lost a close loved one, or even played a sport. Despite their technical quality, my own narratives were not writings I took pride in. I was convinced that if I had had a life intriguing enough to write about, I would be able to produce something spectacular. Instead, I mostly wrote about roller coasters.

    A seed was planted in sixth grade that I may not have truly harvested until now. We wrote Where I’m From poems, adapted from George Ella Lyon’s writings, that focused not on specific events in our young lives, but our upbringing as a whole. I wrote about Thanksgiving dinners and trips to the cemetery and weekend cinnamon toast. For the first time, my view of creative writing expanded to include the complexity of people, places, and memories. However, this epiphany was quickly put aside when we returned to personal narratives in language arts class a few weeks later. But in the past few months, during which I have taken a few minutes per week to express in writing my beliefs, however miniscule or grandiose, I am reminded of the poem I wrote when I was twelve. While I still may not have very many publishable personal stories, that doesn’t mean that I am not interesting. I am still figuring out who I am and who I should be. I’m still being revised; I shouldn’t expect to be a published novel at this point in my journey. I am a product of my environment, my culture, my birthplace, my home, wherever that may be at the moment. I am an embodiment of myself, my choices, my individual beliefs.

    I believe in Where I’m From and I believe in where I am. I believe that my life doesn’t have to be condensed into moments for others’ consumption. I believe that I am still writing my personal narrative.

  8. Rain on my skin.
    Happy tears.
    Moved, for reasons unknown.
    Sad? Maybe a little.
    I can’t always name what's within me.

    "This bitter earth,
    Well, what a fruit it bears.
    What good is love
    That no one shares?"

    I miss something.
    I don’t know what.
    Lips, long arms,
    Curls of hair, eyes that make me small.
    Why are you always there?

    "And if my life is like the dust
    That hides the glow of a rose
    What good am I?
    Heaven only knows."

    Sometimes I don’t feel fully here.
    And that scares me.
    Other times.
    like now maybe
    The force of my presence
    Could tear through the ground
    and blow out a hole saying

    "Oh, this bitter earth
    Yes, can it be so cold?
    Today you're young
    Too soon you're old"

    I’m not going away.

    "But while a voice
    Within me cries"

    I’m not going away.
    I’m not going away.
    I’m not going away.

    "I'm sure someone
    May answer my call"

    I can feel my love pumping through my arms
    Out of my fingertips.
    Into the soil.
    I believe I will grow anew.

    "And this bitter earth
    May not be so bitter after all."

  9. This semester has been one of learning—how to write a real research paper, how to bring up grades when they're looking less than great, and how to deal with overwhelming stress behind all of it. Things built up quite quickly, but I ended up reminding myself of a truth I've known for years, but often forget about: that art relieves stress. Two months ago, in a stressed-out state, I went straight to painting. I threw some color on a canvas meaninglessly for three hours, and still haven't found a way to go back and finish it. I did the same thing some time later except with a digital art piece that I actually did finish, though very minimalist in design. And on last Friday evening, I bought some colored Sharpies because I remembered that I'd wanted to draw with markers since halfway through spring break. Later that night, at 2 a.m., I pulled out an index card and just started trying to draw typography. I have a tendency to forget how good it feels to make art, since I spend much more of my time now just looking at it. I actually have no idea what kind of artistic style I have or what my favorite medium is, though I've always considered myself an artist. But I guess for now there's really nothing wrong with that--
    art helps reduce my stress no matter what. I believe in the healing power of art.

  10. Horses have and always will be my life. I got started young and grew up with one specific organization that taught horsemanship. Pony Club. Every month there was a meeting for our club and every summer there were rallys. Those rallys brought everyone in the region together to compete against each other in riding, horse management, and knowledge.
    I lived for the months where I would sweat and breath dirt from the long days I spent at the barn. I learned so many different thinks from so many different people and so many different horses.
    The days I spent showing I met many people from the region that I didn’t know where even part of our region and created many friendships I hold till this day. I’ve been around a long time in Pony Club and I’ve seen quite a few changes within the interworking of it, some for the better of everyone’s sanity. I’ve had the opportunity to work with the horse management team for almost every rally learning from them all the different ways that each person checks the care of the horses. I’ve had the opportunity to shadow famous vets that work rallys and other trials because of this organization.
    When someone says childhood you think back to a series of memories from your childhood. When I think back to my childhood I think back to my summers being spent around horses learning true horsemanship. I hope to remember how my summers made me the horse person I am today. I believe in Pony Club.

  11. this I believe in poetry//summers night spent on the back porch

    earning moths at dusk
    the queen flosses christmas lights
    amid the back porch,
    taking care of the night butterflies

    body bends blinking under the strings,
    cross-eyed, sometimes, clasped,
    for a quick breathe

    wings are fond of the fickle lier of day
    with burnt kisses that hush the dreamer
    now glistening on the ground

    the morning dew sets it to rest
    while the king cries all again, again, again.

  12. Outside the window, smells of fresh cut grass and rain in Forrer Hall Room 412. Sitting in my dorm room with the window open and rain pouring down, takes me to a time when I had no worries. It is early spring and I am not quite a teenager; I sit in the rocking chair next to my Mama on her front porch. We have always played this game; we pick a color of a car and the person who picked the color of the car that passes the house the most wins. I always got so excited when a car the color I picked went by. We sat there patiently waiting for a car to pass and hoping the car wouldn’t turned at the intersection before passing the house, because if it didn’t fully pass the house it didn’t count as a point to the person whose color car it was. I remember feeling so happy in this moment, talking for hours with my Mama. It was a game that wasn’t super fun or constantly entertaining, such as: a board game or cards, but it was individual time I spent with my Mama. I miss the days I would spend all my time with her, because I do not get to do it as much as I would like anymore. I believe in spending as much time as you can with your grandparents.

  13. I believe there is always time to sit down and do some crafting with your classmates

    So yesterday(no intention here to refer to the Hilary Duff song, but if you feel away about that then cool), I needed to drop off some plastic bottle flowers that our elementary kids made in Shearer. Originally I had only intended to drop off the bottles, and then leave because for someone reason I had made up in my that I was busier than I actually was(this is a chronic thing). I drove over to shearer and went inside with my flowers and I was like “hey I’m gonna drop these off” and then I was like in my brain “Blake you should stay because you are part of the class and you should help more” so I stayed and had a good time with Kremena, Ellie, Carrie, and Megan. I know that story was short and not detailed, but it has a point. Sometimes I think I, and sometimes we, can get trapped in thinking that we are so busy all the time that even within our free time we don’t think we can spare time within that for others. Although I know we are supposed to help with the flower project as it is part of the class, I think this feeling can sometimes still exist within work that we may not think to as as typical as like research papers, and other class projects. So I guess what this all over the place This I believe Essay is trying to say is that sometimes, as overwhelmed as we are/think we are, that I believe there is always time to sit down and do some crafting with your classmates.

    Ps. I hope at least a bit of this makes sense.