Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I had a dream, a wonderful dream.

I am sitting in my office waiting for a patient. I am a psychiatrist. I had a dream that for the past six weeks I lived the life of a perfomer, travelling around England and even performing on the stage of the West End in the middle of Trafalgar Square eight times a week. It's hard to believe it happened, and hard to understand that it's over. It was an amazing experience. I feel so proud and accomplished, and also very humbled by the whole thing. Proud that we did what we said we'd do, and that we gave our best, night after night. I watched as Murray and I each became more able to be "present" on the stage, and came to know that we really do what we say we do. Like the proverbial actors nightmare, each show, we stood in the wings, not knowing what was going to happen, no script in mind, and no blocking to remember. And then we went on and each time twomentalking did us...we didn't do it, it did us. Something emerged each time that was new and and a learning. It became an intimate experience for us and the audience. An audience member asked me if it was real, the feeling she felt, that we were very connected with each of them. And it was real. I felt a deep connection to my fellow human beings sitting in that theatre, aware of the heat they suffered (due to an antiquated air conditioning system); touched by their attentive listening, affected by their sometimes distress, warmed by their generous laughter and ultimately moved by the connection we all shared.
I was humbled by the craft of what it means to be an "actor". The discipline and rigor that it takes to give the best one can, night after night, in the heat or the cold, whether happy or sad, knowing that there is an audience out there and they deserve my best.
People ask me where we are going after the successful run in London. I can't say. I don't know. I think time and the gods will decide what's next. In the meantime I am back to being a therapist and psychiatrist, integrating what I have learned, and working at synthesizing these very different work lives that I love.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Photo from London

With Frith Banbury

The West End

It's hard to write about because it is still happening. It's not yet a story. It's an amazing experience to be in London, walk down St Martin's Lane, past Nelson's Column, cross the Mall, and into the Trafalgar Studios theatre, which feels like home for this brief time....Each day there is the opportunity to tell a story, to co-create an experience for a group of people. I have definitely become more comfortable telling stories, using space, using my voice and body, and yet can see how there is always room for improvement and growth. I have learned is that it's possible to be joyful in telling even the saddest stories. Joy is not the opposite of sadness. It is possible to access joy, and for performing this show, it makes all the difference to the experience. Some nights I find it hard to feel joyful and then its' still a "good show" but it's a different emotional experience for me. Performing Two Men Talking is an intense journey. I am happiest on the stage performing. The times between are liminal betwixt and between space, and sometimes feel long. I can't ever forget there's a show tonight, and can't escape the process even in sleep, as my dreams are filled with images and memories of the past. Last night I had a new memory about a story I have told hundreds of times, to be shared on the stage this afternoon (if I remember). Most nights there is someone in the audience whom I have not seen in many years. Someone from the past. And the re-connections and bringing these relationships into the present is a wonderful gift.
So that's it for now, London in June, and still in the midst of a life altering time, not sure where it's going to go, but remembering that my only job is to show up, and tell my story, the rest is not up to me.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Resanctifying the desanctified

The theatre in which we perform in Colchester was once a church. There is a sign hanging on the wall saying "this building was once a church and is no longer one. One day it will be a ruin, in which case it will be the ruin of a church".
Colchester is one of the oldest towns in Britain, with an original Roman wall. The history of the place, and the beauty of the old building, with its vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows brought something to the performance, something of the ancient custom of storytelling, and a feeling of being in the realm of the sacred, and a feeling of the hundreds of lives that had been performed in that space in some capacity for centuries and centuries. For me it was a particularly moving experience having in the audience an old childhood friend and her husband who was a friend of mine at university, as well as my mother's cousin, someone I had never met, but with whom I share many well loved family members... These people and the personal history they brought to their listening, gave an immediacy and personal quality to my experience of telling that I will not forget. I am left feeling warm and tender towards Colchester.

Colchester, Manchester, Cambridge, Ipswich

The blog has been suspended in Luton because we've been on the road. And there has been no time to document all those experiences. We get into a place, do our best to learn it, become familiar with the performance space, and off we go again. In our minivan whose carpets were dipped into a disgusting strawberry deodorizer such that cowshit was welcome relief. Now they all seem like dreams. The exquisite Colcheser Arts Center, The Lowry in Salford, the Mumford in Cambridge and The Pulse Festival in Ipswich.
Once these were unfamiliar names on our brochure. No longer.
The last place on our tour was Ipswich. The performance was interrupted by a fire alarm and we had to file out of the theatre along with the audience. Once outside, some of the audience joked that we should carry on there and then. Which is what we did. I can't quite describe the thrill of it - such is the ephemeral nature of live performance. But here are some photographs from the technical manager's cell phone.

Dan about to arrive. I've got to shower and get in a quick meditation. Opening night at the Trafalgar Studios tonight.