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Let’s Talk About Love!

Question!

What is love?

What does it look like? Smell like? Taste like? Sound like? Feel like? Is it everlasting or time sensitive? Is it simple or complicated? Is it a thing you do or a thing you find?

If I learned rediscovered reinforced anything this semester, is that there are an infinite amount of answers.

  • For Movement class, I read “Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste” by Carl Wilson, which takes apart what people love and appreciate in Celine Dion and her music.
  • In Dramaturgy class, fellow dramaturgs and I engaged with different adaptations of Medea and found key differences in Medea and Jason’s relationship – what their love looks like, if their love matters in the end, if love is lost. Because of the different cultures in our plays, The Hungry Woman by Cherrie Moraga, Medea Queen of Colchester by Marianne McDonald, and wAve by Sung Rno, communication and meaning of love was different between all of them. And we thought about different relationships a dramaturg may hold and nurture in the theatre in general.
  • In Rehearsal and Production, I reminded myself to take moments to enjoy what I am doing, to have fun and be good to others while I might be deeply stressing out or resisting my own generosity.
  • And in general, in this semester before I go abroad, I spend moments and say goodbyes to people I won’t see for a while…some I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again.

A few days ago, a close friend of mine introduced me to the concept of Love Languages, which comes from Gary Chapman’s book “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.” Each person expresses, communicates, and receives love in different ways – the five categories include Gift Giving, Word Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, and Quality Time – and being aware of our own primary language can help us build better relationships.

Of course, I took the personality quiz as soon as I could (You take it too!) and thought of how this affected me personally… but it got me thinking about how this could help creative collaborations as well – which are still personal relationships right?

It goes back to developing a common vocabulary and creating a foundation where everyone is on the same page, active listening, and being a good ensemble member when creating a safe space – we don’t necessarily need everyone to take a Love Language or Myers-Briggs test, or read everyone’s Astrology birth charts or believe in any of those things, but the structure behind these concepts are helpful and lead to clearer communication.

(Another lesson I remembered: I like structure. It’s not limiting or a trap, more like it creates boundaries to push against)

It also goes back to entry points, what we bring to the work, and why we do the work. It should all be with love. This is no way an original thought, but the romanticized narratives of a tortured artist, suffering for their art – gotta go. If what I am working on does not make me happy or is not fulfilling, why am I wasting my time? (I feel like I am becoming a hedonist) But soon (or maybe already) getting graded won’t motivate me to get work done or at the quality I want; so what else would motivate me to keep creating and also stay healthy? Yes, money. But also love – self-love, love for the craft, love for the process, love for who or what we might be helping…of course none of that is easy because of life’s many distractions, but perhaps this is another mantra to reinforce so that the idea brings more ease.

 

 

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capture it.

I am very happy to go home after a long, tiring semester. I’m really excited to see my family and spend time with them. Though I am excited to go home, there’s been something on my mind about home that I haven’t really addressed.

Over the past couple months, my grandmother’s memory has been worsening. She’s 87 years old. Her short-term memory isn’t great, but her long-term memory is still pretty strong. After 15 years from the death of her son and 9 years from the death of her husband, she hasn’t recovered, but who expects someone to recover from that. It’s so painful to see someone go through as much as she has. She carries years and years of pain, but I also have to remind myself that she also carries so much life and happiness.

The thing that anyone who has ever my grandma will know about her is that she loves to tell stories. During my entire life, I have heard countless stories about her childhood in Jamaica, her wild partying nights, her move to America, her beautiful experiences with my grandpa, and so many more. My grandma is an endless storybook. She’s filled with so much joy every time she revisits different moments in her life.

I realized that I have been stuck in the sadness of seeing my grandma suffer that I I’m forgetting to recognize her joy and liveliness. I need to capture it. I want to compile my grandma’s stories so we never lose them. I want to record them, write them all down and have them live on forever. She is such a precious, special woman that I want to make sure her words and stories are never lost or forgotten. I want to do this for her, my family, my descendants and myself.

I can’t wait to give her a big hug and tell her how much I love her. I want to revel in her spirit and energy. Enjoy this video of my grandma dancing for her 87th birthday this past April. You’ll get a taste of this amazing woman.

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AN INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS MITSOCK: Before and After His First Read

BEFORE

First, tell us your, play and like, maybe just a blurb on what you’d describe your play as.

– So, my play is called There Was No Room for Them in the Inn, and it is, sort of a contemporary reimagining of Mary and Joseph from the bible if they were both queer people growing up.

Cool cool. So, what was your first, would you say, what was the first thought or impulse or source of inspiration?

– Okay, well, I think a lot of the scenes started out as isolated pieces. And then I slowly realized I was writing the same two characters over and over and exploring their relationship a lot. So—my inspiration came from, like, what would happen if I created a connection between a relationship that is so, maybe, confusing to some people and not easily put into a box and not defined—and what would happen if I aligned that with something so biblical and so traditional as Mary and Joseph. I kind of—in my mind, this relationship between these two people (the characters) is so biblical and so…

Like the proportions of it?

– …fated and destined. Yeah. It’s really epic in that way. And I thought, obviously about my catholic upbringing.

Right! That was my next question.

– Yeah, yeah. And so thinking about those things interesting, and also thinking about the relationships in my life that are not platonic but not romantic and everything in between, and kind of explain that.

You explore so many things in the play and so many different themes. A few I noticed were discovering your sexuality, being confused about yourself and your feelings, and a relationship between a child and their mother. What would you say is the theme or the thought that is the highest or—the most up front in your brain when you think about the play or read it or edit.

– The word that comes to mind is just love. I’m interested in exploring the love that we don’t see a lot. And I think a lot of good plays have done that. I—this relationship that these two characters have in this play is one I’ve experienced and haven’t really been able to put a, put a finger on. It’s really kind of elusive in that way and so I think the love that these two people experience is unlike anything I’ve seen written about or seen on stage…I realized that that is something unique that I had an insight to that I really wanted to explore.

Right and that’s theatre, you getting to explore all of it. So when you think about this reading coming up, is it the first official read you’ve had?

– Yeah so this is the full-length play I’ve written. I’ve always really loved to write but kind of forgot. I’ve been focusing on acting for a while, but this semester in playwriting I really have gotten to rekindle my love for it. I’m really excited and interested to hear people’s thoughts about it.

Do you have any other goals or anything you really want to see or get out there or think through after this process?

– Yeah. I feel a little bit stuck with it. I keep going back to make edits and I don’t really know where to start. It feels like the next edits will be either really really big in scale or really minute. So in really interested to hear it out loud and hear where it lands, because I’ve never really heard it all the way through.

So you’d say that this is not the finished product? Definitely still working?

– Yes, definitely

Awesome. Well we are excited to hear it. Thanks for talking with me.

AFTER

I’m back with Thomas! How was it hearing your play read for the first time?

– It was such a cool experience. It was really valuable. It was really interesting being the playwright in the room and not the actor.

What would you say some of the differences are?

– I think I’m just not comfortable, completely comfortable yet as a playwright in a room. I felt a little bit of, ‘oh I’m so sorry for making you all read my words and listen to my words. So definitely a less familiar role to be in in the creative process.

Was there anything that surprised you along the way about your play that you might not have thought about before. Or maybe something, a few words that you haven’t heard from reading it yourself?

– Hearing it out loud I think I got more feeling for what I think the setting is. I wasn’t sure how all these scenes came together or where they came together cause they’re kind of all over the place in terms of where they take place. But, I kind of saw a more unified setting.

Were there any reactions from the audience or anything the audience did or responded to that you were surprised by or reassured by?

– There was. There is this one scene where the groan man teaches how to tie a bowtie. And it kind of comes out of left field, and I kind of wrote it on a whim, and didn’t really know what it would be like to be read allowed. And then, god-bless Dylan C Wack. He read it so specifically to how I wrote it in terms of indentation and how the lines are written and the words and the drawing out of the vowels. It played so comically and so specifically that it really stood out and worked. I really appreciated how he took the time to trust the way I had written it. It was really gratifying to see that the way I wrote it actually played out if it’s kept to its form.

My last question: are you unstuck? We talked a little last time about how you were feeling stuck.

– Oh I’m totally unstuck. I’m really grateful to the people who were there at the reading. They gave me a lot of brain food and ideas and I left knowing what my next steps are. I’ve been writing random scraps of things and not knowing where they’re going to go yet, but I’m writing again.

Are you going to continue on the playwriting track?

– Yeah I am. For sure.

Cool. All right thank you.

– Thanks Kalei.

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Creating Accessible Theatre

“Access” is a hot word in theater discourse right now. Often conversations revolve around how to make a performance accessible, and the solutions people come up with usually have to do with – a matinee performance labeled as Family Friendly, one or two pre-planned shows with interpreters for Deaf and Hard of Hearing patrons, Relaxed performances for people on the autism spectrum, and so on. These are all important steps and considerations as theater companies begin to care about being accessible (come on, hurry up.) However, from the first week of 360 Storytelling with BU’s Movement professor Yo-El Cassell, I began to ask the question, how can stories be accessible from inception? Stories are meant to be accessible. They are meant to build bridges and forge connection. Audience members’ heartbeats literally synchronize during performances.

Through the 360 storytelling class, I saw how layers of storytelling can be used to create accessible storytelling. I’m going to blame the film industry a bit for unwittingly creating an expectation that all performances should be the same. The story doesn’t change from viewing to viewing, nor does it change from person to person everyone “should” have the same experience. Let’s go ahead and throw that way. No, the story isn’t the same for everyone. No matter which senses a person uses to engage with a story, it will not be the same. How, as artists, can we acknowledge this and use it? I’m thinking of the story of Peter and the Wolf. There is that fantastic symphonic version by Sergei Prokofiev, and the ballet version, and the cartoon version. 360 storytelling allows a story to exist on multiple different planes of experience and engagement. Let it be visual, let it be aural.

One performance that succeeded on multiple sensorial planes for me was Les 7 Doigts’ Cuisine & Confessions. This Canadian acrobat troupe created a performance that lived in sight, sound and smell. Their acrobatic feats were beautiful to watch, the stories they shared were heartfelt and difficult, ranging from monologues to songs to poetic phrases in multiple languages. The sound of the performance also included the score the audience created of laughter, gasps, applause and silence. Through the journey of the performance they manage to bake banana bread and make pasta. The smell of the banana bread filled ArtsEmerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre.

On the other hand (haha!) Les 7 Doigts did not succeed with Reversible, their most recent performance at ArtsEmerson. This show was created in a similar fashion, from the personal histories of the performers themselves, but the layers of storytelling weren’t there. The aural journey was confused and unfocused. In the end it felt like it was missing a core ingredient that overflowed in Cuisine & Confessions – heart.

apr2015_h07_chauvetcave

Photo: Jean Clottes (Smithsonian.com)

When the early humans ventured into the Chauvet caves in what is now France, they painted beasts on the walls, using the curves, cracks, and rough patches to accentuate the story they were telling through the images. They painted to evoke life. Their beasts had many legs to simulate movement and they knew how the shadows from their torches fell on the walls of the caves and the shadows they created. They used all of it to depict movement and life — to bring the feeling of the thing into the present. Isn’t that what we do? We use what we have and we think deeply and broadly about our inherent human tools to process information and we communicate across all those facets to tell a story and speak a truth.

360 Storytelling invited students dive deeply into their physical forms and physical impulses to tell stories of relationship. How does this character (or this part of me, or the me of today) relate to this roll of paper towels. What is the power dynamic between me and the piano? What does this hat want from me? What do I want from this hat? By listening with their bodies, students were able to allow conversations to emerge between their bodies and the world.

Suppose there was a scene that followed the relationship of a person and a broom. This scene is built fully physically at first with no words. And then that story was transferred into sound – music, words, silence, sounds.   And then, in the spirit of dramaturgical thinking, what would this story be if it was told through taste? How about smell? How can this entire journey be transferred into a different plane of experience? In thinking dramaturgically from the inception of art-making, theatre has a chance to be inherently more accessible.

 

 

 

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tlkng Pt. 3

I’ve been struggling to divorce from writing strictly Appalachian stories. I love writing about where I’m from but it’s hard writing and being disconnected from my home – it’s depressing to be honest. Writing from Boston is a different atmosphere and it’s something I struggled to do. I’ve been feeling a lot of dysphoria and confusion within my own writing and I’ve been doubting myself in a city setting. 

One of my mentors Stephen Adly Guirgis told me that he’s a vomit writer. Things build up and dwell for a long time and then he throws up. It can be in a car ride, in bed, walking on the street and he has to write it down then and there because he’s not sure when he’ll throw up again. I’ve always felt similar and his confirmation is validating that I’m not doing anything wrong but also I realize this puts me in a handicap. Jami Brandi always told me you have to force your muse because we as young artists don’t have the luxury of waiting around for something to come. 

Where is the middle ground?

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A Strange Crack of Light by Madeline Bugeau-Heartt

Last month, I went to Warpole, MA to see a play at the Fisher House – which is a little one room school house that was turned into a Historical Society.

A Crack of Strange Light is an otherworldly, theatrical exploration of faith, magic, and our shared hunger to feel less alone amidst the chaos. Set in suburbia and occurring over the course of three months, A Crack of Strange Light follows the journey of Richard, a fallen angel searching for his way back Home. Through three “spiritual exhibitions,” Richard will draw back the veil to illuminate mystery in the seemingly mundane and help us listen for the strangely hopeful whistle on the wind.

Originally devised, this immersive endeavor explores spirituality from a fresh perspective. The goal of the piece was not to provide answers, but to unlock the imagination of the community so that they may encounter the magic of storytelling, be together in a space outside of routine, and ultimately find awe in the shared experience of being human in an ever-changing word.

The piece is designed in such a way that one may attend all three parts and enjoy the progression of the story. 

The Story follows Richard over 3 months. Nov, Dec, Jan. Madeline Bugeau-Heartt is an amazing solo artist.

If you wanted to follow A Strange Crack: http://acrackofstrangelight.com/

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tlkng Pt. 2

I also didn’t know how to write here in Boston- which sounds strange. At Lesley, I was able to be here for two weeks then go home and write in my world. It was a very big adjustment moving from cow country to the city. It was overwhelming/overstimulating and I didn’t know what my voice was. I knew what it was then – at least I thought – and I was forcing myself to write the same way I did then and it wasn’t working. Writing 84 Bull-Orky, Mechanicsburg, PA (the bar play), changed a lot for me and in me. The best thing that happened was Ronan telling me to write without a plot in mind- I was like WHAT!- and then I did it, and I wrote a play in a voice I didn’t know I had. And I truly didn’t know I could write like that. I remember Ronan pushing me to stop writing the same thing (in my words) and I was defiant. And I think about Project Runway and RuPaul’s Drag Race (which are great shows- Both All Star Seasons are starting this winter) – and when the contestants bring/make/wear/design the same thing they created the previous week- they got put into the bottom 3 or worse, kicked of the island. I wasn’t about to go home early. I finished 84 Bull-Orky and then I began writing Dead House.

This semester I have been in Dramaturgy with Ilana Brownstein- this class has opened me up to deconstructing and really understanding the bones of the work and why. I remember asking the last time I had this big meeting with everyone- What can I do to learn how to close read and play and understand it- mostly everyone said, go out and see more theatre and read. I did that but this was the 350 degrees on the Pillsbury frozen cookie dough.

This class also helped me looked at canons of work and how the writer has adapted and changed.

ALSO, God Bless Garry Garrison who had us all work outside of our comfort zones at one point in time this semester. We all worked on stellar 10 minute plays and were able to edit them at least four times- which was very important. One thing we don’t get enough of is rewriting. Garry really showed us the stages of rewriting and developing the 10 minute. In that class I wrote a little play called, Scrimmage which I’m very proud of, about homoerotic hyper-masculinity in the football world. I remember calling my folks saying- you won’t believe it, but I wrote a play about football- my mother could only be prouder if I wrote it about the Packers. Something I also learned in Garry’s class is, there is always work to be done on a play, every single week as soon as I thought I accomplished a goal from the feed back MORE feedback came and more edits- it never ends.

Half-way through Dramaturgy I began to create a dramaturgy book for myself for a play I had no idea I was about to write. I collected images, wrote ideas, short 10 minute plays, character descriptions. Through this studio class and Dramaturgy I was able to marry the two styles I’ve had. 84 Bull-Orky was my scratch pad. Dead House is my thesis.

I entered this semester wanting to prove to myself that I wasn’t the weakest link. And I did that for myself.

Four plays I saw this semester that altered by way of how I approach work were: Home, Sleep No More, A Crack of Strange Light and The Flick (I know, why haven’t I seen or read this earlier). I’m running out of space for the two page limit so I can talk about this more in-depth in our meeting but- Home– wow, who knew a play like that was moving around the U.S. Sleep No More– I’m enthralled with idea of being able to go back again and again and be able to get different stories and the physicality of it.  The Flick– Annie Baker, is a genius. A Strange Crack of Light is a monthly installment experimental devised play by this woman named Madeline Bugeau-Heartt, who from Tisch. She’s doing incredible work out in Walpole, MA.