The Year of Scaffolding

For most of my life I’ve been a DIY, live-off-the-land-hippie, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kinda gal.

Rebuild two car engines from a book. Check.

Build a geodesic dome cabin in the wilderness without electricity or running water which led to contracting amoebic dysentery and the attendant vomiting/diarrhea in the outhouse. Check.

Knit stupid sheep-smelling beanies from hand-dyed, hand-carded wool. Check, check and double-check.

No mas. Been there done that I am soooooooooooooooo  especially done with that, my friends, when it comes to The Moby Dick Diaries. The reason why is simple.

You wouldn’t climb Mt. Everest alone, would you?

What I’m saying is making a solo show is a helluva undertaking not to be done without proper guides, equipment, colleagues and oxygen. And that oxygen comes mainly from conversations with people of the solo performing ilk. Like you.

Research says that people want to hire and work with people who fit in. No matter how competent or incompetent.

The problem with artists is, they never fit in. Our job is to stand out, to fight squishing in which is lonely life  unless you have fellow artists to stand out, talk to, and compare notes with, be weird and unique together.

This year I’m dubbing “The Year of Scaffolding” i.e. accountability to the people who spur me on in my goal to become the best solo performer and writer I can be…especially for the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, August 17-27th.

To whit:

  • twice monthly solo performer career support group meetings
  • weekly class with David Ford
  • weekly rehearsals with Mark Kenward
  • weekly get-togethers at Artis Cafe with Irene to get feedback on six pages of the novel
  • The Field with choreographers and performers Vangie King and JoAnn Sleisker at Luna Dance to cherry-out the dance finale in Act 4. Can’t wait. So much fun!
  • sporadic blog interviews with solo performers/directors/dramaturgs/designers whose work I love and admire.

As regards this last (but not least!) bit of scaffolding, my first interview will be with Josh Korbluth. Lucky me gets to dig for the golden secrets Josh uses to create his wildly warm, funny, humane piece about the Zen Hospice Center where he’s the artist-in-residence. I’ve been lucky enough to see his WIP improvs twice. I can’t begin to say how deeply affecting this show is.

Watch this space.

Cultural Compass

Today is the first time in several months I’ve had a block of time to work on the May 18th Marsh Rising show. Holy Moley, it’s a month away!!!! The orange clock in the kitchen ticks. I set up the video camera. I angle my boots in front of my chair “just right.”

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Harpoon. Check. Boots. Check. Performer. Unh unh.

Despite vowing I would be on my feet today, not rest on my you-know-what whittling down the years, I sat at the kitchen table and wrote out a rehearsal schedule instead of rehearsing. I would stick to it like a flea on a dog.

But when I finished with that phhhhhhttttttt. That sound you heard was the air going out of my inspirational tires. What had gone wrong? I had SO looked forward to time with myself and my script.

After a few mini-hearted attempts at afixing blame (my new day job, asthma, the Republican primary circus) I pulled out my Superpower cards and rifled through them. My heart ears pricked up when I got to Cultural Compass.

I’m paraphrasing here…

“You need a reminder of who you are at your best. You need encouragement to stay true to yourself.”

True to myself.

So why am I spending time and treasure doing this? Why is this show, The Moby Dick Diaries, important to me?

This show is important to me because like many young artists, without a trust fund, rich husband, doting parents or fat paycheck career, I learned the hard way that a level-playing field in not what the Arts in the Bay Area happen to be. Thirty-six years I’ve kept going except for six months working at a full-time job and some months when my two children were newborns. This show is important to me to connect with my younger artistic self and my hopelessly deluded full-steam ahead engine of desire.

This show is important to me because when I was a young artist, freshly minted from UC Santa Cruz and before that the Central Valley, I had days of only a bag of white rice, a jar of salsa and a backyard patch of chard to eat, a rat-invested Berkeley student house to sleep in, teaching kids dance and gymnastics constantly sick with walking pneumonia and no health insurance and too poor to afford the prescription for antibiotics anyway. This show is important to me to reconnect with that person who managed to keep going by hook and crook.

This show is important to me because I had a dream. To always dance. I was sure dance would keep me alive behind the eyeballs. I didn’t see many people past the age of 16 in Porterville with eyeball light. I found light in the dance department at UCSC. I was hellbent to LIVE!!! Every single minute. Because I loved someone who died at twenty.

This show is important to me because there is Allison at my day job who hails from the Central Valley. She’s chock full of spunk and ambition splashing around in a bucketful of naivete. She wants to be a theater director. And she will.

Because Allisons are why The Moby Dick Diaries is important to me.

Please join me May 18th at The Marsh Rising in San Francisco at 7:30.

Buy tickets here:

Marsh Rising

Chapter Three –Home, Sweet Closet

 

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I woke at dawn. My closet wasn’t bad. The best part was I had a window that if I held my head at the right angle, I could see Alcatraz Prison floating in San Francisco Bay.

While Emilee slept, I went downstairs to explore the rest of my new home. The hallway was piled floor-to-ceiling with books, textbooks, cookbooks, almanacs—every kind of book—crammed into unpainted wooden bookshelves. Over the doorway hung a painting of a whale reading a book, The Banality of Evil with the Berkeley Campanile poking up in the background.

The night before Emilee explained it broke the rules to turn the heat on and told me a whole list of hippie house rules about composting, cleaning, and what foods in the refrigerator were solely-owned and what foods anyone could eat.

Here’s the craigslist ad for a new roommate posted on the fridge:

WE…are an intentional raw food community. We do not promote racism, sexism, materialism, or factism. We gladly invite all beings who desire to reach our high standards. After an Outward Bound weekend, we’ll let you know if you’re pure enough.

THE ROOM…has a floor, a sloping ceiling on one side, and is located conveniently under the stairs. It’s windowless but cozy, a “room of one’s own” for that height-challenged someone who doesn’t mind sharing their space with athletic gear. $400 month.

YOU…should are gender-fluid but pay strict attention to personal cleanliness while abstaining from soap, fragrances, deodorants, gels, and perfumes. In the interests of water conservation, one five-minute shower is allowed once per week.

INTERESTED? Please respond with a detailed life plan, projected income for the next three years, six month’s rent as a non-refundable deposit, no more than four references but no fewer than three. (If you have more than four friends we’re suspicious you’ll have sufficient time for house meetings that occur four times a month.)

Happy Artist or Sad Artist

T shirt design

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Enough promotion, now for my post. Lately folks (not in the arts) have been saying how wonderful it is that the arts are not competitive. For instance, at brunch today for an investment banker’s birthday. Once I finished snorting coffee through my nose, I thought about why this perception exists. My guess is folks in other professions want to believe there’s a world Over the Rainbow where work is always lemon drops and never sucks dead donkey dicks.

Personally, OMG I’ve found the arts to be HYPER-competitive because a lot of smart, talented, people fight for a tiny teensy slice of whatever financial or other carrot pie is held in front of our noses.

This makes me sad. At times, it makes me want to

  1. give up
  2. get out
  3. grow up and get a REAL job

And then I come to my senses. Literally. Lately I’ve been taking “Perception Walks” (TM, no just kidding). I walk out the door and stop the words in my head like “tree”. This stops the march of judgments like “pretty tree”, “ugly tree”, “mediocre tree”. I wordlessly perceive. I notice when I name whatever and give it a pass. The words in my head are the enemy. Any words. I listen to the sounds, see the sights, taste my spittle, feel the biting wind. It’s goal-less, relaxing, fun and addictive.