Shrewpost 9: transformation

4.5 has reared its ugly head again, late in the game. Our journey into laugher was feeling hollow, forced, contrived. I have always felt that pretending to laugh on stage is worse than pretending to cry. But that’s just me. Anyway, I expressed my frustration about it during a note session and we went back to work on it last night, after a run-through.

Tom, John (Vincencio), Frank (Hortensio), Ceal and I sat around the ring of the stage and talked about the scene for a bit. Poor Keith had been called back to Whole Foods. We were oddly spaced apart, each of staking out unique positions in the room, not by design but by chance or inclination. It felt like we were satellites circling an invisible sun. I began by asking – again – what everyone thought was happening in the scene. The conversation felt labored and strained, with Ceal quiet and listening. We spoke the scene through from our dispersed positions a couple of times and got nowhere. My frustration grew. We finally had to acknowledge that this was the most major wrenching of the script we were doing. As written, it’s a scene about K caving, giving in. We are looking for “the contrivance of least offense” to pull K’s transformation into a 21st century context we can all live with. Finally, we landed on a choice involving P having a “tantrum” – or at least sinking into some kind of agonized despair at Kate’s refusal “play his game.” K sees the effect her choices are having on him, and comforts him. While rehearsing, I looked up from the embrace Tom and I found ourselves in as we worked through this choice and there were tears in Ceal’s eyes. “She’s learning compassion” she said.

Then, this morning, my Buddhist Mom sent me a Unitarian sermon by Kurt Kuhwald. It’s an extraordinary piece called “I am carried by a great wind across the sky” – a quote from a Chippowa song. Late in the sermon, he lists seven “great demands” he has articulated in response to our poor world’s dilemmas. The first great demand is Be Loyal and Dedicated to your Transformation. “Get it, a very deep and visceral level, that you do need to change: that you, along with all of us, have been wounded by empire, by parents, by school, by lovers, who didn’t know any better. You have been wounded by by your attempts, all these years, to protect yourself from further pain, and to gain some sense of self value. And, along with these truths, you also have the capacity for liberation, both internal and external. Be loyal to yourself in that transformation and in all your efforts to grow. It is our true work.” Yeah . . . that’s what I want Kate to see, somehow, in the tiny, two-page act 4 scene 5. And, of course, it would be nice for some of that to rub off on me, too.

The other Great Demands?

2. Cultivate Intention, Then Surrender
3. Lean into Obstructions
4. Give.
5. Encourage Curiosity
6. Let Joy Alone
7. Be Patient, Then Dare to Reach Out Boldly at Any Appearance of Light, of Relief, of Compassion. 

As far as I can tell, this sermon is not available on line yet.

Is there a connection between our work on 4.5, my dark mood these days and my Mom’s email? Yes. It’s God. See, I’m a Quaker, so I choose to locate God in the events and confluences of my life. This is deeply informed by what I learned in The Rooms: there are no coincidences. God speaks to me through patterns and poems in my life, and sometimes quite directly through people. That’s called ministry, and as a Quaker, I don’t confine ministry to pulpits or people in robes. Continuing revelation leads me to sense God hovering in the midst of artists working together, in the electronic transmissions between loved ones and certainly, certainly in the energy emanating from the luminous sun of our play, when we all – actors, designers, director, playwright – are in synch.

My acting is ministry, and as such, I will bring a rehearsal to a grinding halt in order to be sure we are taking responsibility for what we are sending out.

By the way, they’re not bike shorts. They’re bike . . . tights. They go down to my ankles. Kate’s costume is a fluid business still. I had an odd head piece until last night, when the production team took pity on me and scrapped it. But the general consensus is that they want my (balding, crew-cut) head covered with something. Just not sure what yet.

And found this on the web yesterday: that’s Sir Lawrence Olivier as – you guessed it – Katarina the Shrew. What company!