The Four Agreements

another time of change.  and every time I feel anxious about the change, find myself pondering whether to fight or let it go,  the four agreements are hanging out in my brain.  You know, the ones from the book by Miguel Ruiz.  knowing them is one thing.  living by them is the challenge.

The Four Agreements are:

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

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Legacy

This is one of the best quotes I’ve seen lately.

“When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence,  inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgment of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself… That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life.”

Written by Stanley Kunitz

Listening

Listening

About 5 years ago I had a heavy heart. I can’t exactly explain what prompted this feeling, this weight. Perhaps I’d been influenced from a book or some documentary but I don’t remember that. Instead I remember the feeling of worry and the guilt. I drove out to the Gila one gorgeous fall day with the intention of doing a hike to clear my head. In the process of my journey, I found a giant cottonwood tree. I sat down at the base of this incredible tree and with the sound of the river close by; I shut down the voice in my head, the mitote.

When I did this, the tree spoke to me and told me that I wasn’t to blame. That I needed to go easier on myself. I thought: But I’m human, this degradation of the earth IS my fault. But the tree insisted that I lighten up. It will all happen as it is supposed to happen.

I don’t think that this means that we can ignore what we, the current dominant species, are doing. But we have a major cultural shift to make and it’s not going to be easy. It may even be impossible. But perhaps if we listen…..

 

Once you say “theater”…..

Are you one of the ones who thinks – “oh, one of those flakey, creative types” when you hear that someone is involved in theater?  Perhaps the word eccentric comes to mind.  It’s more than time that we “theater types” got a fresh look.  https://www.theaterthinking.com/transferable-skills-theater/

Oh sure, communication skills but as this author points out the word BRAVE comes to the forefront.  Yes, I agree,  insanely brave.  When I put out the announcement that I was going to direct the musical Annie in Silver City, I had no knowledge of a little girl that could play the role.  She came out of the woodwork, this amazing person that had never sang on a stage came into our midst.  And she was brave to go onstage in front of 600 people every night.  Some people dream of going on America’s Got Talent but they aren’t brave enough to actually do it.  And theater people do this all the time:  risk, take chances, fail, try something else.  Constantly.

What about Goal Oriented?  The posters are out, the tickets are printed.  Most people have the option of putting off a deadline if it’s not going well but in the theater we don’t.  The show must go on.  And everything we do – the scheduling for rehearsals, building, costumes, props, publicity – all of the areas –  are focused toward meeting that goal.  And if you are a production manager you’ve got organizational skills that will allow you to manage multifaceted projects.

Focused collaborator.  Most of us actors, designers, and directors only work on one project at a time when it comes to production.  That’s because the job easily sucks up all of your time and if you’re not dedicated, you find something easier to do with your life.  And we learn how to collaborate by working on projects with difficult, demanding, exacerbating, lazy,  and downright crazy people.  And we don’t walk away because we know that someone will be let down if we do.

So take heart theater people.  Believe in the gifts you own and perhaps the world will come around to seeing what you have to offer outside the realm of theater.

Just a short year ago

What is now/What could be

I believe in directing work that has social relevance.  A short year ago I asked a group of young people what they thought about the state of the environment and mans effect on it.  We focused on the forest and it’s relationship to the river.  What we created was a magical world of where we would grow 50 trees in front of an audience.  We introduced the human tree.  It grew and grew.  We experienced night in the forest.  The human tree took over.  We took the forest down, deconstructed it. Their concern for what is now, what is happening was on the surface but what they created was a world of butterflies, bats, owls, ravens, and our beautiful Mother River.  The giver of life.  We hope that all can and will respect her.

The power of Mind Mapping and S-Town

One of the much over-looked tools I use in Storytelling class is mind mapping.  In the very first class I ask the students to think of a central metaphor – something such as a family heirloom or an image that represents them or what is really important to them.  Then I ask them to think about the journey of their life – whether young or old we’ve all had experiences throughout time: places, people, good and bad things that have happened to us.  We also talk about time and how it is represented:  linear, in a wheel of spokes, in boxes like a comic book or in up or down ways. Now draw your life using whatever symbols or images you wish but no words.

Some students are completely baffled or say “I can’t draw.”  But there is no right or wrong way to do it and no judgement.  Stick people or elaborate faces – it doesn’t matter.  Some know the central image of their life and others have to ponder on it for a long time.  Some are detailed and want to work on it, making every image perfect.  Others are quick and general.

It’s always so interesting for me to see what they do, how much and what they reveal.  I’ve seen this exercise bring people out of shyness, create a bond when people realize what they have in common, surprise others with artistic skill.  No one believes the images without words will speak but they do.

I’m currently listening to the This American Life podcast called S-Town.  It’s a fascinating journey about a guy that restored old clocks, created sun dials and mazes.  Everyone around him had a perception of who he was but did anyone really know him?  The mind mapping I do with my classes are what they want others to know but something happens in the exercise – a layer is pulled back – it’s a freedom from using words to describe.

The Singularity

I am very proud of the fact that I directed Mary Poppins last spring.  The beautiful photo above was a moment created by many talented people:  Cari Lemon as Mary, Patrick Rogers technical director, Tasha Cooper lighting and Peter Bill projections.

But the original show created in 2012  with the students in the IDEA program called the Singularity was a highlight of my creative work.  Futurist Ray Kurzweil describes the singularity as the moment when man and machine will merge.  It’s about the time when virtual reality will be as real to us as the living world.   Written by Gabe Eyrich and Rob Torres, this work explores 4 women:  the innocent child, the mother earth, the skelton woman who must choose between the worlds, and the Raven woman who accepts death as part of life. Enjoy two clips from the production:

https://vimeo.com/148946341

https://vimeo.com/148946726

Dr. Suk Jun Kim – Sound, Anna Davis- Composer and actor, BJ Allen – projections, Peter Bill – projections, Zoe Wolfe, Actor.