Saturday, December 31, 2016

Welcome 2017

Here comes a new year. A time to make resolutions. A time to start fresh.  A brand new, clean calendar to fill up with all the things. I love my new dayplanner. Empty and clean and ready to go.

                                                                Sunset in Bogota

I was looking back at the year through all the photos on my phone. 2016 was a full and exciting year. Tricklock had a wonderful Revolutions with old friends and exciting new work. We toured to Colombia, Poland, and Ukraine performing and teaching workshops and making lovely connections with artists and students. Hannah and I had a great time at the TCG conference in Washington DC. Elsa and I participated in a clown and mask intensive at the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance in Canada with the amazing John Turner. I was able to attend the Boska Komedia festival in Krakow. I had the best time with my travel companion Dominika as we also made a rockstar, whirlwind trip to Szczecin and Wroclaw to see more theatre, meet new people, and connect with old friends. 
                                                          Friends in Amsterdam

Aaron and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. I am so grateful we found each other again. I love this man more than anything else in the entire world. 

                                                              True love

I got to spend time visiting the greatest of friends. Karen and Carla in Baltimore, Byron and Brandon in Phoenix, and Kerry, Joe, and Eric in LA. These are friends I have had for 15, 20, 25 years. I also just got back from a wedding in El Paso of two amazing women. I am surrounded by such amazing people. 

                                                    Young and beautiful forever.

This year I had knee surgery after 5 years of pain and trouble with movement. I am still recovering and it will get better, but I am pretty sure it will never be the same. It is a weird thing when your body changes because of time. I have a damaged knee and that is just how it is now. People ask me what happened but I think it is simply 20 years of being a physical theatre performer. Training and performing take its toll. I am not complaining. I am so pleased my body is still pretty strong and my knee was awesome for 39 years. Now I just have to do things in a different way. I can still move and that is what counts.  

Overall, it was a fine year. Really. I know a lot of people had a hard year but when I look back, it was pretty good. 

                                                            Baltimore in the summer

The bad thing about 2016 was Donald Trump. Warning: this paragraph is really unpleasant. I do think my heart and hope will lighten up as time goes on, but right now my feelings are very grim. My country voted for a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic bully. The hate and terror this man wears so boldly on his sleeve means that EVERYONE who voted for him is a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic bully. Or they are some version of that. There is no way they could vote for this man unless some of this hate runs in their blood. I realize this is a blanket statement but it is where I stand right now. I have no desire to "connect" with these people. I have no desire to unite. The people who voted for him clearly do not want a united country. They had no thought for what is good and safe for the majority of the people. The evil side of me slightly looks forward to the downfall of this country because it will hit these racist assholes hard. Trump is not going to save jobs. He is not going to help the middle and lower class. He is not going to keep our country safe. He is not going to bring prosperity. He is not going to lift this nation up. It is going to be a terrible four years and I am horrified and humiliated that we voted this man in. Shame on us. I am still unsure what to do next. 

I am holding some light and love as I look forward. There are some exciting and good things already planned for this year. More travel and exchange. More theatre and festivals. Big plans and ideas. Clear focus and also a sense of mystery as I just dive in. My hopes and dreams for the year are simple and also huge. I was recently told by a theatre colleague that I needed to think of the biggest and boldest plan, a plan that seems impossible and then pitch that idea and make it happen. 
Okay. 
I have a few of those so that is what I will do this year. 

                                                      More Colombia in 2017 please

I recently saw Rogue One. I very much enjoyed it for reasons I won't go into right now but I keep thinking about the character Chirrut Imwe. As he walks through the battle to the master switch he says, "I am the force, the force is with me. I am the force, the force is with me. I am the force, the force is with me. I am the force, the force is with me. I am the force, the force is with me. I am the force, the force is with me." I have decided this is my mantra for 2017. 

                                                                 Travelers

Holding onto light and love. Pitch the impossible. I am the force and the force is with me. 

Happy New Year! 💗

                                                         Relaxing at Tent Rocks
                                          Here is a picture of a bunch of salsa. I love salsa.









Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Polish theatre holiday

Hey Poland, I'm back! Aren't you beautiful? All full of holiday lights and a great big theatre festival. What a delight you are! 



I wrote my last blog the day before the election. It was a blog filled with fear and anxiety. It turns out that if you add in some anger, this is often my state of being now. Except for the past five days. I am in Krakow, Poland at The Divine Comedy Theatre Festival. I haven't thought about the future of my nation for at least three whole days (until I turned on BBC yesterday. Ugh.) It's been a nice break. 



The brief description for the festival is "A theatre holiday where the best Polish shows are presented in a true Polish showcase. The most dramatic part of the Festival is the Polish Contest INFERNO within which the most provocative and exciting productions of the past season compete for the grand prize. 'Inferno, comprises the most distinguished and widely discussed performances, that showcase the wide range of talents and artistic aspirations of Polish directors. Its main purpose is to present the diverse landscape of Polish theatre life as well as to expose audiences to the latest trends and areas of artistic exploration and experimentation that our directors have to offer,' enthuses Bartosz Szydłowski, Divine Comedy's Artistic Director." 

If I was a zillionaire, I would bring most of these show to Revolutions. Not because they are perfect but because they are brave and exciting experiments. As I often encounter in Polish theatre, performers have a fantastic mix of both bold courage and natural ease. It's like watching a charismatic tightrope walker. A performer who is wild and electric but also in complete control and in their element. Self awareness goes away. That "Look at me! I am acting so well!" veneer does not exist. The check in. All of it is gone. What is left is skilled bravery, which is captivating to watch. And that is just the actors. The minds of the directors, writers, and designers run wild. Again, not all is perfect. The editor in me often goes on overload. The writer and director in me has a lot of notes but the sheer imagination and creativity is inspiring and joyful. 

It would be too much to write about each show, but here are some thoughts on a few that I enjoyed very much. 

Lars Jan's The Institute of Memory (TIMe) is a multimedia show about family and history. It is a detailed and sharply performed investigation that starts with a desire to understand an absent father and turns into a discovery of identity and culture. The actors have a lovely mix of wonderful technical skill and deep emotions which allows the storytelling style of repetition, pieced stories, and grid based movements to come alive in a deeply felt way. I am fascinated with memory and I loved the way the show dug into that.  I really enjoyed this piece, and I am hoping to bring it to Revolutions. 

Robert Robur is a performance based on an unfinished novel called "The Unusual Adventures of Robert Robur" by Miroslaw Nahacz. Directed by Krzysztof Garbaczewski, this show is epic. It is a science fiction/adventure/love story utilizing live action film. They had a set behind the set where they performed and filmed scenes with a GoPro type camera and we witnessed this film in real time on a giant eyeball shaped screen. As the play went along more of the live action moved on stage (and all around the theatre.) This four hour play was full of magic. Of course I have a million notes, things I would fix or change, but what a crazy night at the theatre. It tapped into issues around the media, reality tv, disconnection, desire, culture, and technology. It was wrapped up in a weird murder mystery, changed gears in the third act, and used fabulous 1980's style graphics and synthesized music. It was bananas and I really had a good time.



And then there was We Get What We Believe In. I arrived at the theatre to find an enormous table had been constructed with seats all around for the audience. In the center of the giant table was a man in a bathtub. At your seat was an electronic voting device and piece of paper and a pen. Ahhhhhhh...an interactive piece. Yes, please. As with all these shows it is complicated to explain, but this show was described as being based on the novel "The Master and Margarita" (and it was, kinda) but it was really an exploration into democracy, choices, classism, politics, and modern Poland life. I was very taken with these actors who made direct contact with most of the audience, using the audience's interactions as part of the work. We voted on questions posed to us and were able to see the results. They had videos of the Warsaw actors experimenting with the themes out in the world. My favorite was one of the actresses in a store sobbing in front of the diaper section because the choices for diapers was overwhelming. Her interaction with an older woman trying to help her was hilarious. The show had many elements of bouffon and it was used well. Taking the piss, exposing the bullshit, pulling back the curtain. I appreciated this work very much. I am certain this show is too large and expensive to bring to Albuquerque, but I plan to check in with the director. It was funny, strange, and fascinating. I liked this show very much. 



There are four days left and they are packed! Tonight I am going to see Teatr Figur Krakow's new piece Huljet, huljet which we are bringing to Revolutions in 2018. How much do we love TFK??? I can't wait to see this new work. It is an installation inspired by the memoirs of Jewish Krakow citizens in the Ghetto. I saw Daga the first night I got here, but I can't wait to see the rest of the gang tonight. There are more shows on the schedule, a tour of the Kantor museum, a few more meetings with directors and curators, more pierogi and zurek, more vodka, more castle and Krakowian magic. I am having a fabulous time with Dominika and Greg. It is so lovely to spend time with brilliant artists who you admire and connect with in your favorite city in all the world. 

Dominika and I have a crazy last few days travelling to Szczecin for a show and then to Wroclaw for more meetings (and Hubert!) so I hope to write again soon with more adventures. Love from Krakow to Albuquerque. 

Oh hey. I just looked outside and it is snowing. Magic. 




Monday, November 7, 2016

Crazytown

I'm having a hard time focusing. 

Mondays are mostly "work from home" days. Monday evenings are always filled with company meetings or trainings, but the day is spent working from home. It's a nice way to start the week. I can wear comfy slippers and my dog always wants to be close to me while I am emailing. I have a lot to do. We have to raise a lot of money for the festival. I'm working on a new solo show that has an Excavations in early December. Hannah and I have an artistic retreat in a few days. But I just can't seem to focus. I am distracted by the election. 

What if he wins? 

I know that somehow we will all carry on. The president does not have ultimate power. Hopefully my people in Congress will put up a good fight. Our nation is big. It's divided. Really, it's hard to get anything done. In moments of despair I think, "I don't have any kids. My husband and I love international travel and we are both hard workers. We'll just take off and see what happens." Of course I am committed to trying to make our country a better place but... who are these people?



My first presidential election (that I could vote in) was 1992. I was twenty years old and super excited to vote. I was young and my knowledge of the world was minimal but I liked my candidate. He was young(er) and charismatic but one thing I especially liked was his wife. She was smart and strong. She dressed sensibly and stuck up for herself. Nothing against any previous First Ladies but Hillary was different. Various people gave her a bunch of shit because she kept her maiden name and she was like, "FUCK YOU, WHAT A STUPID THING TO TALK ABOUT!"  She was a tough woman with an important and interesting career and I looked up to her. Hillary has received an enormous amount of shit throughout her career and I truly believe a large part of it is because she is a woman. I know that a portion of the hate is simply that. If she was a man, it would not be like this. It just wouldn't. Do I think she is perfect and never made a mistake? Of course not. Do I think US politics are fairly corrupt and that she plays that political game too? Yup. Just like I think all US politicians do.  She plays the game and it drives people crazy because it shatters their view of what women should be. The mother, the wife, the pin-up, the lover, but not the president. It may be subconscious, but it rubs people wrong. They feel deeply disgusted by her. Seriously? But not by all the men out there doing the same or worse? Nope. Because that feels normal. People may not like it when male politicians behave that way but it is familiar. This is not. It make people feel weird. If Hillary was a man with the same expertise and experience (and mistakes) she would have this thing in the bag. 

But wait, you say, I think Hillary does play the game and the game is corrupt. I want change! I wanted Bernie! I want the system to be different! I want more options! We need to change the system! Cool. I am jaded and don't believe the system will ever change too much from what it is now. Sorry. But what if it could...?



In 2000, I was in Ireland when the election happened. I had done an absentee vote (sooooo much harder back then) before I left. I woke up super early the day after the election in my tiny room at the bed and breakfast in Dublin. I went downstairs and turned on the tv in the common room. GEORGE BUSH WINS THE ELECTION! I turned it off. I was bummed out. Not surprised but sad. I went upstairs and went back to sleep. I woke up a few hours later and went downstairs and turned the tv on again. AL GORE WINS THE ELECTION! 

What the fuck?

I went out to explore and later in the day I stopped in a pub. I sat at the bar and ordered a Guinness and turned my attention to the tv in the corner. NO ONE KNOWS WHO WON THE ELECTION! The bartender asked where I was from and after I told him, he said, "For fuck's sake, what is happening in your country?" I think I said something like, "I DON'T KNOW, IT'S CRAZYTOWN!" 
There are a lot of factors in the 2000 election but one thing for sure, people wanted a change in the system. They wanted more than our two party system and a large group of people wanted the option of Nader. It worked. He got in there and a bunch of people voted for him. Good for you, everyone! It worked! And then Bush won ("won") and then not much really came about regarding the two party system. There was a rally and then quiet. Bush was our president. I don't know about you, but he wasn't my favorite. Where is the constant fight for change? Where did all those Nader supporters go? During the election people were bananas and then...not so much. Is the election the only time people want to fight? Is THIS election really the time to fight the whole system? How does this nation deal with its wants and needs as a collective group?



I can NOT believe the amount of hate that is out there. I can NOT believe anyone would want to vote for Trump. No matter what you think of Hillary it is fucking night and day. What is it? What is happening for these people, these Trump supporters? Here are some things I assume:

People are afraid their guns will be taken away. I just don't know what to say about this. No one is taking away anyone's fucking guns. It's America. This nation loves its guns. If a mentally unstable person can shoot a bunch of little kids and NOTHING HAPPENS to change the laws, it never will. All the guns are safe. People can fucking keep their guns. Also, what is wrong with people that their number one priority in life is having guns? I don't understand these people and I never will. 

The most important thing to someone is something, something, blah, blah, God/faith/religion and that is how they want to vote. Again, no idea what to do with these people. Believe and worship whatever/however you want. This should really, truly have nothing to do with the government. I don't know why this is confusing. Also, everything I know of God is about trying to do the right thing and be a good, kind person. If people look to Trump as a role model for kind and good, I...I...I don't know what to say to these people. 

Fear, hate, racism, sexism.
Yup. And there we have it. If people vote for Trump, they suffer from one or all of these. I don't know what happened to these people, but I feel really sorry for them. It must just be miserable to be full of such hate and fear. How awful for these people that they walk around and spend all their time just hating other people. For no reason. Listening to Trump and his supporters hearts my heart. It's so ugly.



I feel very fortunate that I have carved out a career for myself that takes my work out on a global level. I am able to travel and my work is about connecting with people. I care deeply about trying to be a decent world citizen. I am learning every day how to be the best person I can. I (like probably everyone) have my own issues. I get excited about things and jump without looking where I am going. Sometimes this ends up impacting people as I will then have to jump back and disappoint or let people down. I try my best to be sensitive and smart but I say the wrong thing sometimes. I offend. I think I know what I am talking about only to learn my facts were wrong. I struggle to forgive. I become incensed when I feel like I or someone I love has been wronged and I hold onto it tightly. I'm selfish and self righteous. I keep people at a distance. I judge. I do a lot of things that aren't great but GODDAMMIT I genuinely try to be decent, kind, and fair and I stay open to learning everyday. Do Trump supporters think they are doing good things? Do they self reflect and think similar things to what I think? Who are these people?????



The world is a scary and beautiful place. This nation is a big, wondrous, crazy place.
I am full of fear and anxiety about tomorrow but I'm going to just keep having faith.
Love trumps hate. It really does. No matter what happens tomorrow, that is truth.

****On a side note, I was telling my husband that I was writing this blog and was nervous about posting it. I didn't want it to sound uninformed or messy. I was worried about how it would be perceived. After saying other supportive things he then said, "It's okay because you are a woman so it doesn't matter what you say. It only matters how you look."
I really, really, really appreciate my husband's humor. I suppose if Trump does win, at least I have that to get me through the next 4 years.







Friday, August 19, 2016

Well...we're back in the car again.

When people ask me what my favorite movies are, I always say the same thing. Star Wars, Alien, Breaking the Waves, Rushmore, Young Frankenstein. Great movies, a good mix for a theatre nerd type, and good representation of me. A certain comic style that I always try to recapture on stage in Young Frankenstein. A little Von Trier and Anderson (love them both.) Classic sci-fi movies that show my love for fantasy, melodrama, being scared, and Ripley. I never say Jurassic Park but the truth is I love this movie. I’ve watched it a lot. It’s exciting and scary and fun. The female character is smart and interesting and wears sensible shoes. There is this part in the movie where the young boy Tim has crashed into a tree in the car after being attacked by a T Rex (what is not to love about this movie?) Dr. Grant is trying to save him by getting him out the car and as they climb down the tree, the car falls down the tree and lands on top on them, enclosing them in the car again. At this point, Tim says, “Well…we’re back in the car again.” I like the young actor’s reading on that line. It’s not a complaint. It’s just a fact. It is what it is. I quote this line a lot. Well… I’m back in the car again. Well… I’m back at the airport again. Well…I’m back on the train again. Well…I’m back in a strange bed again. That is long story to explain the title of this blog.

EPIC SUMMER THEATRE ADVENTURE PART TWO.

Elsa and I are back in the airport/airplane/car/strange bed again. I’m not sure when I will post this exactly (I am at the Toronto airport right now) but we are headed to The Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance in Canada for a Mask and Clown Intensive with the wonderful John Turner and Michael Kennard aka Mump and Smoot aka the Canadian Clowns of Horror. Elsa and I have been trying to come to this intensive for about 5 years and every year something happens. Usually being broke happens, but also summer schedules are hard. We made it happen this year. 
Determination and sacrifice (mainly on Elsa’s part) MADE. IT. HAPPEN. I am 79% excited and 21% scared. We rented a small cabin and will accomplish 100 hours of clown and mask training over the next 15 days. I think we are very close to the lake and I plan to swim as often as I am able. I think I will be offline most of the time but we’ll post a bit as we are able.

We aren’t the only Tricklockers continuing on with adventure. Hannah is still in Poland teaching with Teatr Figur Krakow at their summer education camp and then she heads the Summer Intensive at The Gardzienice Center for Theatre Practices. I will let her tell her story on this, but I'm soooooooo excited for her. 

***side note: I don't know why my blog did that ^ I can't fix it so whatev. Maybe it's highlighting it because it is IMPORTANT!

So that leaves Krakow. Oh Poland. Poland, where a part of my heart always lives. On the last night, Aaron and I walked back to our flat after dessert and coffee and Aaron said dramatically, “Boohoohoohoo.” I said, “What’s wrong?” He said, “I don’t want to leave Krakow!”  This is how we always feel. The shows at Teatr Barakah were great. The audiences were great. Barakha was great. We saw old friends, made new friends, hung around the city, John and Bernadette joined us (John is our longest Board member and all around cool guy) and we just generally had a fabulous experience.  I ate so much Zurek, a sour soup with sausage, potato, and a hard boiled egg. Aaron calls it breakfast soup. It is delicious.
                                                                  Krakow

We traveled by train from Keiv to Warsaw, Warsaw to Krakow. 12 people and about 36 bags. Narrow halls, tiny sleeping cars, in Warsaw we had 6 minutes to get off the train. Six. Minutes. This group of people is just remarkable. They were upbeat, worked together, and loved each other. On the train we went from compartment to compartment hanging out, laughing, talking, drinking Ukrainian vodka (gifts from PostPlay.) This is an amazing group. No doubt about it.

                                                                          Love these people

Now I am in Canada. I lucked out and stayed at the perfect Toronto hotel for my travelling troubles. I arrived Wednesday night at the hotel at 11pm and I had to pick up Elsa the next day at 5:30pm. Then we rent a car. When I arrived on Wednesday, I was exhausted. They let me have a late check out, they had laundry on site so I cleaned my clothes, they had a restaurant with a yummy veggie omelette, they let me hang around in the big comfy chair in the lobby and use wifi, and the lovely man at the little store in the lobby where I bought my gum asked about my peppermint oil which sparked a 30 minutes conversation about practicing mindfulness. This was a particularly interesting moment. I put the gum on the counter and he said, “I don’t know that you need this gum, you already smell so minty.” I explained I use peppermint oil to help with my headaches and anxiety. Something about this opened him up to me and we talked for a long time about releasing anger, removing greed, and letting go of ego. Or at least recognizing it when it is happening.

I had a few days of emotional roller coasting riding immediately after the tour. Depressed it was over, elated it was so successful, homesick, in love with Krakow, freaked out that instead of going home I was going to an intensive training, massive separation anxiety from Aaron. I would get weepy, “I can’t believe we are going to be apart for 17 days!” Sometimes you just have to take the ride.

                                                                 This guy. I love this guy. 

Elsa and I are at the hotel in Sudbury (half way between Toronto and Manitoulin Island) and I went swimming this morning. I thought it would be magic for my knee but even swimming hurts it a bit. Kicking my leg on my first lap and I gasped in pain. Oh man. Healing sucks. It is just going to be months of recovery. I have to be okay with this. I have been healing my knee along the way.  I will admit that a crazy tour is not the way to heal a knee, but it’s what I have been doing. I will keep at it.

Okay. Off to clown camp we go! A couple of mid to late 40 year old best friends, living in a rustic cabin on a lake, training in clown and mask 10 hours a day, in an old farmhouse in Canada. This is the life.  I’m so grateful that I have awesome parents who help and support my work so much (they took care of our creatures while were gone and spoiled the crap out of little Shudek!) I’m so in love with my amazing theatre company. I’m so lucky that I get to really experience part of the world not just with travelling but with actual artistic exchange. I have great friends and an amazing partner. I have so much gratitude. I’m going to focus on all of that goodness. Take it with me into the clown work. Open the door. Up, up, up. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Amsterdam to Kiev and all the love in between

****** I wrote this blog several days ago but was unable to post it. SO MUCH HAPPENED BETWEEN NOW AND THEN! I will leave this blog as is and end with some new updates.

“I pretty much live my life jumping from one moment of laughing to another moment of laughing. I just can’t remember the bits in between very well. “  -Katy Houska

I am on a train traveling from Amsterdam to Kiev. In case geography is hard, that is a pretty long ride. We do Amsterdam to Berlin, change trains and travel to Prague, change trains and take a sleeper car to Kiev. I love a train. It’s so lovely to watch the world from a train. Our seats now (we are in Germany) are facing a way that requires us to travel backwards. It’s not Aaron’s favorite, but I don’t mind.


New York was great. As always. Our show went well and awesome people came to see it and we all hung out after. It’s such a great city. I love being there. I was sitting at Washington Square Park, people watching and listening. I always learn about myself when I am in New York. I fall in love with humankind and my heart swells to be a part of it. It struck me that New York is Donald Trump’s home. How on earth can he live in New York, such a rich and diverse tapestry of people from all over the world, and be such a hateful, racist monster? How is that possible? I just don’t understand.  I don’t want to talk about politics in this blog. I have A LOT of thoughts. It’s been rough to be on social media so much promoting the tour. It’s hard to not get sucked into the headlines or comments on people’s page. I don’t want to engage right now. For one, having a mean and divisive “conservation” through a comment feed is never going to change someone’s mind. But it was hard to ignore all of the comments on Doug’s page about how “it isn’t about gender.”  Ugh. I’ll blog soon about HRC.
It is fascinating to be touring while all of this is going on. I can’t wait to hear what people think of this crazy. I should just make a shirt that says, “I AM SORRY ABOUT TRUMP. I DON’T UNDERSTAND EITHER!” It has been nice to catch up on the speeches from the DNC. So many beautiful and inspiring moments. I am holding faith that a little more than half the people in the US are kind, thoughtful people who want to help others and see themselves as a world citizen. Fingers crossed.
I haven’t been sleeping very well. Jetlag, I know, but it’s been a little worse than normal. I have bouts of troubled sleeping brought on by anxiety. It’s usually money related. Running a non-profit is hard. Being responsible for all the bills is stressful. Back home, I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, heart racing with thoughts of “How are we going to get through the month?”  I have a little bit of this going on so last night instead of reading my scary apocalypse novel, I started re-reading Yes Please by Amy Poehler. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT. SAY IT LOUD. THEN SHUT UP.  She’s the best. I also watched the movie “Sisters” on the plane and it is funny and the cast is awesome. I also watched “The Lobster” which is super weird and AMAZING. What the fuck? Have you seen that movie?
We had a minibreak in Amsterdam so that Aaron and Katy could finish shooting some scenes for the movie. Amsterdam is so pretty. Bikes and canals and slanted houses and windmills. Sigh… Also, pancakes with savory things baked in them are delicious.  It is still a dream to retire part of the year there. At least visit for chunks of time as we can.
Alex, Hannah, and Erin are already in Ukraine and apparently, it is incredible. I can’t wait to get there!

****** THREE DAYS LATER…

I am here. We will blog properly about Ukraine on the Tricklock blog but what a powerful place. If you don’t know the history of Ukraine or the recent things that have been happening here, you should look it up. It is heartbreaking and overwhelming. I was in the square yesterday and imagining the photos I had seen from only two years ago, in this same exact spot. Rubble and fires, protesters and military, I think about Mariana talking about the piano that the artists rolled out and played in the midst of it all. I think about the flag that was held up amidst the bombing that said, “You are beautiful.” Also, this city is lovely. The architecture is amazing. The churches, oh THE CHURCHES!

If you are my friend on Facebook you probably know that we traveled by train for 48 hours. We were on one train from Prague to Kiev for 35 hours straight (one break to grab food.) It was crazy. I knew it seemed like a fast trip for the distance, but I was overwhelmed with planning this tour. Twelve people, three cities, three different shows, plus workshops, insurance, budgets, reports, PR, taking care of home, etc. It’s a lot. When I saw the itinerary for 26 hours I thought, that sounds fine. There was no arrival date so it looked like a trip that left early in the morning and arrived early the next morning.
It arrived early TWO mornings later. Ahhhh. Gotcha.


The discovery moment when the train conductor is showing us the long list of stations along the way and making a circle with his finger like a clock and says in English, “24 hours” in his thick Russian accent was a shocking moment. Katy looked back at me with disbelief and the Polrail email that said something about a two day trip (that I thought was another trip I didn’t buy) comes flooding back to me. Katy, Drew, Aaron, and I made the best of it. The train was hot. It was cramped. It was not comfortable. I always look for the lesson. What is the universe teaching me?  Here are the things I learned:
1. People are kind. The Slovakian guy in the next car who was helping us translate Russia as best he could watched our shock, horror, and disappointment take place in real time. I said, “24 more hours? We don’t have any food.” This man gave us his bag of food. Meat and cheese and bread and two beers. We said, “No, no, we can’t possibly take your food.” He said, “Of course you can. I am almost home. Take it and eat it. It is okay.” This is one example of a series of things that people did to help us along the way.
2. Sometimes you get a gift at just the right moment. About 30 minutes after our discovery, the train conductor helped us to understand that at the next station we would have almost an hour stop. This station had an ATM and a grocery store. We pulled out money and bought food and water. There was not another stop like this the entire rest of the trip. If we were stopped  for a long time it was in the middle of nowhere. If we were at a good station, we only stopped for 5 minutes. That stop and station was our one and only combination and it came right after our discovery. It made the train ride much better.
3. My privilege is a luxury that most people don’t have. I went to use the bathroom in the train and the seat is broken and there is no toilet paper and there is a bloody rag in the trash and it smells strongly of pee (I am not a person who is bothered by much. Years of taking care of small children, I can take almost anything, but the smell of pee is gross) and I thought to myself, a huge number of people in the world live like this every day. Not necessarily on a train, but my clean bathroom back home and my comfortable bed and the food in my fridge, and the water that I can drink that runs from a faucet in my home is a fucking luxury and I should never, ever take it for granted.
4. Pay attention to details. UGH. If I had just taken a breath and read the email properly and asked one question and waited for an answer we would have known about our train trip. I got frazzled and busy. Slow down. Calm down. Deep breaths.

So, now we are here. All of Tricklock is here. We open tomorrow. More soon.   


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Human

Whew.
The Theatre Communications Group (TCG) conference has ended. And what a conference it was. I had a lot of experiences, highs and lows, that I am still processing. I met some incredible people, connected with friends, people I admire, colleagues, etc. So many thoughts and feelings as I pack my suitcase up and prepare to return to real life. I'm lucky that my real life is a continuation, in part, of this conference. I am a theatre maker. I am grateful that I get to do that everyday of my life.
However, the part of this work that has become my heart is the international exchange and collaboration. There were several sessions about this work, including an entire day dedicated to it with the pre-conference hosted by TCG and The Lab for Global Performances and Politics. It is so clear to me what I should be doing with my life. It is this work. I attended many different sessions at the conference. I was one of about 80 Artistic Directors in a 3 part session called the Artistic Directors Summit. I even co-moderated two of the sessions. It was interesting and I met some cool people, but I also had moments where I felt strongly this is not my place. A group of mostly men (over 40 white men) with the challenges of running their LORT theatres, managing staff, funders, etc. talking and talking and talking and my mind would drift back to the global pre-conference.
                                          Global pre-conference at Georgetown University

This is where I belong. Working to support voices from artists around the world. Producing their work. Getting their stories out there. More, more, more. Here are some things I heard (reworded from me, I did my best) from some of these artists.

"Culture and theatre help explain global politics."
"This is much more important than you."
"We can't speak this outside of the theatre"
"I am tired of being invited to the museum of my life."
"The weight of being erased."
"Racism and genocide are dehumanizing. Theatre is about humanizing. Theatre makes us human."

Artists from around the globe gathered to talk about these issues. The work, the politics, the art. Several artists had to join via Skype because they are unable to travel for various reasons including this woman:

This is Reem Alsayyah. She is a Syrian actress and refugee. Her smile is the one of the brightest things I have ever seen. I was lucky enough to hear a bit of her story and hope one day to see her performance of Trojan Women (which was not able to come to the US because the US denied their visas.)

I hope to bring several artists I met to Revolutions so that I can share these incredible people and stories with New Mexico.

This is a complicated world. I am learning everyday. I make mistakes navigating global art and politics. I say the wrong thing, come off the wrong way, etc. It's delicate. But all I can do is apologize, pick myself up and try to keep supporting the work. I know it makes the world a better place. It creates understanding and connection. It grows love.

Also, does anyone have like... $500,000 they would like to gift me? I just want to produce this work all the time. I promise to save you a seat in the front row. :)

More thoughts soon.

                                                            Washington Monument
                                                         


Friday, May 27, 2016

That is Mrs. Doormat to you, sir.

I have been contemplating the honesty and transparency in my writing. I write about personal things but I do feel that I keep a shield up. Things are just a little bit vague or I will 50% something in order to not sound crazy, to protect people, to make sure my foot doesn't ends up in my mouth.

We all have that friend on Facebook who posts a lot and always says whatever the hell they want. A small part of you thinks, "You go girl" but the larger part of you thinks, "Jesus, you are a mess." You never say anything but you do secretly pat yourself on the back for not being like "that girl." I am thoughtful. I chose my words carefully. I try to keep my private bits private.

I don't know. Why don't we just say what we think? I'm not interested in saying hurtful things to people, but why do I find it so necessary to be careful about what I say? Is it manners? Is it my southern roots? Fear? Oppression? Habit? Is it taught to us as young girls?  Don't make people unhappy. Be a people pleaser. I see it in my female friends all the time. We aim to please.

My friend Marya and I were talking recently about the woes of being a producer. Specifically, the woes of being a female producer. The "Is there a man I can talk to?" attitude that can sometimes happen was a topic of course, but I fixated on the way I behave. I have often felt bullied. I will start strong and put my foot down only to find myself apologizing at the end. Why do I do that?
Why do I make myself small? Why do I apologize for not being able to do what someone else wants when I don't want it or I just can't make it happen?

At times, I become a doormat. I let people walk over me. Several years ago, I became a constant doormat for someone. A colleague (and I thought friend) who I worked with spent two years doormatting me. I did his work for him, I made excuses for him, I helped him out, I worked extra hard to make sure he continued to receive the same pay as I did while he lied, cheated, stole, and manipulated me. FOR TWO YEARS. I knew in my gut for about a year that it wasn't right, but I did nothing. I had moments, like when he arrived 45 minutes late to a super important meeting and then blustered about and took credit for all my hard work, when I was furious and told him how I felt. He would lie to my face about some family problem or whatever boohoohoo and I would fall right back in line. I allowed myself to be manipulated and walked all over. Again and again. I look back at this and think how on earth did I let that happen and for so long? Yes, this person is a narcissist. I'm certain he is pleased with his work. He played me and I fell for it. For way too long.
So..
How does one keep that from happening again? And why do I still have moments when I realize I am dangerously close to being a doormat again. I got myself away from that horrible person and I feel like I learned a lot from that situation. About myself and people. I'm certainly more jaded. Which maybe is a bummer but I'm okay with that. I don't think I would ever find myself in that situation again, but how can I stay away from being doormatted entirely? It really isn't up to the rest of the world, its up to me. I need to say "This won't work for me" and just let it be okay.
Of course it is okay. I work hard for my projects. I work hard to find funding. I work hard to keep things afloat. I work hard on my art, my company, the work. I shouldn't have to apologize to someone because they want to do something and I either can't or don't.

I can't afford your show in my festival. Sorry.
I can't co-produce your show. Sorry.
I don't have time to help you make your project happen. Sorry.
I can't meet with you. Sorry.
Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.

Why am I so sorry?

I stepped on your toe and it hurt you? I am so sorry. I would never want to hurt you.

I know that my tendency to doormat myself is much less than I used to be, but I would like to remove it all together. I'd like more of my female leaders to do the same. I will apologize if I hurt you. I will not apologize because I won't do what you want. It comes back to that honesty thing. What if I was just honest? What if I didn't worry about pleasing everyone or how saying no might make someone mad? This shouldn't be a bad way of working. I feel like men can function like this. They are called charismatic and powerful. This blog is not about men. It's about my patterns. I just unfortunately see that pattern with other women.

I aim to change things. At least for me. Standing strong. I'll wipe my feet and come on in.


Strong