On The Table

On The Table
Liam our stage manager and friend getting the word out...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

some research and some thoughts

so, i've got a great document from jake and liz that gives some really great history of Portland and Molalla from the founding of each city through 1980. I'm going to be using it to (as will you) to create the act 1 scrapbook material that will be read by characters at the memorial service in both places. If you are interested in seeing this, just email me- its an 8 page word doc, and i don't know how to link it as a document here, and it feels too long to paste and post...they are still working on it. Its growing. And, they are moving forward with it, to 2010.

Next, separate-
thought 1...
at the benefit last weekend, we worked really fast.
We made something fun. Something delightful.
It wasn't, as a whole, a major work of Sojourn's- but it was filled with material and forms that were quickly constructed, and successful piece by piece. Rebecca's swift choreography was super satisfying to watch, and by the end of 5 performances, the scene work was feeling lived in, with some nuance and great listening. I was moving through the show as a narrator, and by the end of my third time, had basically learned what i needed to give, content and emotionally, to give the audience what they needed. I was able to refine, repeat and be present. The whole 36 hours was a great reminder to me of how, when focused with clear goals, we can make stuff that can stand up in performance very swiftly when need be. And I bring this up because, of course we always devise. We rarely begin with a script. But here, especially here, with so many moving pieces and elements of discovery that will occur over the summer, i feel like i want to do everything i can do as director, and as writer, to create structures where we are building and investing from day one, even though we may not settle on text or absolutely done choices til quite late. We need to be building preparedness for our event the whole summer, even though our score may be in our imaginations long before its in our hands.

Thought 2-
The other night, here in Evanston, I was on a panel at the public library. The city of evanston put out a call for poetry submissions. They are creating a new ramp up to the big central library's main entrance, and a public art commission persuaded them to stamp 5 locally authored poems of 50 words or less into the concrete. I was invited to be a judge. I have no idea why. 354 poems were submitted; we all read them, picked our top ten, and then met for 2 hours in a conference room on the top floor of the library.

It was fascinating.
I loved it.
And, it was really really helpful in terms of thinking about our act 3, and how we can engage 5 portlanders and 5 molallans in a conversation amidst the story of act 3.

There were 6 of us- me, a retired library director, a marketing lady in her 30s from a small evanston business, a senior citizen lady who had taken alot of poetry classes; a HS student, and a college student from somewhere who was from evanston, and was back from school for the summer.
Plus, a public art consultant dude who was there to watch, and the Evanston director of cultural affairs, who was our facilitator.

And we had the 25 poems that had gotten the most votes printed out for each of us.
And we had to sift through, talk about various factors, rank, then re-rank, and finally get down to 5 choices and 2 alternates.

I have served on grant panels before- at a national and local level. But in those, even though they shoot for diversity, there is generally a level of professional experience and familiarity with a fairly advanced vocabulary about the work- and, we all consider ourselves in those situations, experts.

Here, other than poetry class lady, we were all very aware we were not experts.
Nor did we have similar life experiences.
Or shared criteria for good art.
Or the purpose of these words on a ramp.
We liked different stuff; we hated different stuff.
We had to talk about point of view, voice, politics, aesthetics...about our own perspective. we had to listen, be polite while arguing at times.
Having those texts in front of us, to respond to, and to make choices about...
It made that conversation possible, and necessary.

I am thinking a great deal about this in relation to the task of our act 3, amidst a meal, amidst a story in 2010 unfolding, amidst a couple bringing their families and communities together...

somehow connected to the choice of where this new family/unit should live...of what is to be treasured and overcome with regard to urban and rural...with what the conversations are.

What is on that table. What is the task. What is the text.
I'm working on this- just thought i'd share.

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