Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Single-Serving Wit

Thanks to my own personal Technology Czar, I am starting to fall in love with Twitter. Thanks to a genius idea from Simon at The Next Stage in Vancouver, I'm now a member of a Theatre Twitter group that is allowing me to make friends with folks who share my passion and craft all over this increasingly tiny globe of ours.

It's mind-blowing, really, to be able to follow the daily musings and movments of folks from Austin to Dublin to Sidney - all from my temp-tastic desk. And thanks to the good people at blip.fm I can add my own personal soundtrack.

Empowered and emboldened, I'm finding that the 160 character limit is creating a box in which my witty irony is running wild. Type, type type - send! and my sparkling conversation floats through the intertubes to - literally - the whole world. Well, at least I think I'm terribly clever.

For example, when I found out this morning that Touch is on the brink of selling out for the weekend (and it's only Tuesday!) I was able to joyously declare it in song.

I can Tweet from my cell phone, from my computer - will this lead to a bevy of national/INTERnational collaboration? I dunno. I hope so. Maybe I'll Tweet about that next and see what ripples.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What is our call to service?

As per usual, my friend Dan has inspired me to think big thoughts.

He came to visit last weekend from San Francisco, to see New Leaf's production of Touch. When the company first read the play out loud, I tricked Dan into reading Kyle. He knew nothing of the play or the emotional journey of its protagonist, but because he is a sweet and trusting man he did what I asked, and I don't think he's quite forgiven me for asking. Part of me thinks he moved to San Francisco as my punishment. But suddenly, this weekend, there he was, back again. Poof! Like magic. Like intelligent, articulate, regular-guy-shaped magic.

I am intrigued by the idea Dan's exploring of kidnapping American theatre and setting it free. I think the idea of freedom rings true right now in a way it hasn't done for at least the last eight years - or a good chunk of my life as a self-aware adult-type person.

Today, on Day 2 of President Obama's (I just don't get tired of seeing those words together) administration, he released a remarkable statement in reference to the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

Now, apart from being articulate (as per usual), our President uses this issue as a way to talk about something more broad and more pervasive than just a woman's right to choose. He's talking about a woman's right - to everything. The freedom for women - the right for women - to everything made accessible to men in this country. It's not about saving us; it's about setting us free. It's not about handing us anything - it's about allowing us to come into what's ours.

And I think the same is true of the American theatre. Those of us at the relative beginnings of our journeys as artists and professionals are not so foolish as to want to dismiss our forebears and start all over again. The only way to continue to grow, to continue our relevance in an ever-changing culture, is to stand on the shoulders of the giants - and they are giants, pioneers, visionaries - who have come before us and keep reaching up, up, up.

But how do we do that? It's not just about setting American theatre free, it's also a matter of setting people who attend the American theatre free. And simultaneously re-imaginging who falls into that category. How do we build new audiences? How do we continue and grow our financial support? How do we make art that is honest and engaging that might allow us to build our audiences and increase our financial support without compromising our individual visions?

I think there are a lot of ways to do this - but none of them are easy. Just like fixing our country on the largest scale, it will take work. It will take time. It will take open minds and ready hearts. It will take trust, and faith, and grace. It will take each of us making a commitment to service in the ways that we are best able.

But what an electrifying time to be alive. What a challenge. What a gauntlet our President presents us with. Responsibility. Hard work. He challenges us to stand on the principles that once made our country great - and can help us make it great once again.

God bless him. And God grant us all the strength and courage to follow him.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

nesting instinct

A little while back I was asked to be part of this killer all-city intern get together hosted at the Goodman. It was pretty sweet, and I remember making what probably sounded like a flip comment that has more truth for me the more I think about it.

I said that making a play was like giving birth. I said it was like what I imagine giving birth must be like (that got a laugh. which was fun.) Here's why I said that - because it's effing hard. Because when you're in the middle of the tech where nothing's going right (c'mon, you know there's always that tech. always) you just want it to stop, you want to grab someone around the neck and say "You did this to me!" You bargain and beg and pray and wonder if you'll ever do this again. And then, once everything clicks into place, the amnesia starts to set in.

This is why women sometimes have more than one child, and why artists make more than one play. You forget. All you can think about is this cute tiny person who looks a little bit like you and your partner(s), but mostly looks like something totally orignal, something all its own.

And yet I wasn't actually done with this analogy. Even though some of the interns seemed to think I was at least moderately clever (sometimes moderate cleverness is all one can hope for). I think that if tech is like childbirth, opening is like dropping the kid off at college.

I think when (god willing) I have an actual child, I will be either the best or the worst mother in the history of anything.

I will worry a lot. I will hug too tightly. I will get lipstick on your face and then lick my thumb to wipe it off. I will become hysterical if you fall and scrape your knee. I will be righteously indignant to those who look at you funny or question how advanced you really are. I will not hide things like that with a cool, collected exterior. I will worry. I will show up at the slumber party with extra snacks and your favorite pillow. I will ask her what exactly her intentions are towards my baby. I will insist. I will suggest. I will wait up. I will stand in the doorway of your dorm room just a little too long. I will assume you're wondering when the hell I'm going to leave so that you can start to be a grown-up. I will call to make sure you're still doing alright five minutes after I've gone. I will worry. I will love you until it feels like my heart will burst. I will be too obvious about it when I feel this way. I will mean well. I will try not to crowd you. I will worry. I will breathe in. I will breathe out. I will repeat.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Synchronicity & Fullness

In Touch, Serena helps Bennie define "one of those coincidences--what's that called--when exactly what needs to happen to make something right happens." Its synchronicity and its fascinating. And I've been feeling an awful lot of it over the last week.

It has been a helluva week for New Leaf, and for me personally. I feel like I have poured more of my heart, more of my self into this show, and it has poured right back. Which is wonderful and terrifying and has been leaving me feeling - full. Almost to overflowing. It's a feeling that Marsha and I talk about quite a lot - feeling as if there is just so much in the world and that feeling it all at the same time can almost be too much. Too. Much. This week, Time Out Chicago ran a feature story - A Feature Story - about New Leaf. It is beautifully written and, even more importantly, captures my family as we are. It is a gift - not just to see ourselves in print, but to know that while how one sees oneself and how the world sees one can sometimes be dichotomous, at New Leaf we appear to be in harmony. Full. So full.

And then this show - oh, this show. Touch continues to surprise me - it feels like taking physics in the way Kyle describes it at the top of the show. He talks about how he kept taking physics not only because there was so little offered in his high school, but also because taking physics over and over and over, the world kept opening. This play keeps opening. I feel like I'm STILL making discoveries. These actors keep opening. These actors - I just - words cannot express how I feel about my actors. If I seem effusive, it's just because I am. So full. The beautiful full moon last night brought me to tears. When has that ever happened before? Not ever.

My brilliant stage manager Amanda and my brilliant KJ were talking on Friday after the show about how New Leaf is synchronicity. I think I agree - at least it has been for me. The way I came across the company is not surprising - I was working with a company member on another project and she brought me in for The Permanent Way. Thank goodness. But the trail that even brought me to be in Chicago at the precise moment that put me in line to meet her, work with her - it's mind-boggling. It's mind-boggling that anything comes together, really, when you think about all the ways that things could be different. But that's why there's synchronicity. I'm so glad we have a word for it - I'm so glad that it exists.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

3... 2... 1...

I've been spending my blogging energy at New Leaf so have been remarkably lax in letting my thoughts rattle around my head here. But I can say that Touch opens on Wednesday.

I am filled with anticipation. And I am filled with hope.

(That'll make more sense after you see the show. In the meantime, watch the trailer.)