When I conduct my interviews, I take a digi recorder and mic along with my now not-so-trusty macbook with me so that way I have a back up copy of the talk. I am not sure why, but for the interview with Bill, he sounds like he is sitting in a whole other room. I can barely hear what he’s saying, and it just makes me even more angry that this happened. Especially since I was about an hour away from posting episode 2.
In short my friends, there will be no interview with Bill Starr. I will have to try and catch him another time and see if he would be willing to have another meeting. So, I am trying to get another interview to fit into a podcast and post it later today. I will keep you updated in an hour or so.
I don’t know what happened, but I lost all of the tracks for Episode 2. I am so disgusted right now that I can’t even type this. My interview with Bill Starr is wiped clean and everything except the stupid jingles are gone. I saved the episode and was going to begin my show notes, when I figured that I can import it to my itunes to hear how the finished product came out. As the file was loading, I got three error messages saying that tracks 1, 2, and 4 were unable to be found. I think I am going to be sick!
The other day my great friend, Sarah, asked…”Who is your audience? Who are you trying to connect with? Is it strictly other people that are involved with theatre and such, or is it for everyone?”
My goal is to be as inclusive as possible so I would LOVE to be a service to all of you. So, I would like to take a moment and find out from you, the public, what it is that I can do to bring the Arts to life for you? What is it that you would like to hear about? Is there a particular theatre company that you would like me to feature? Maybe a local show that is being performed is something that you would like me to talk about or interview someone in? In any case, let me know.
Just like theatre, this is a collaborative effort, and I am pretty easy to work with. So, why not hit me up with an email, or a message on Facebook (See my link on the right hand margin).
This afternoon, I attended a performance at the Pacifica Spindrift Players Stage 2. I was treated, um…I don’t know if “treated” is the right word. It’s not often that I have personally witnessed a script tackle an issue head on while being both very insightful, funny, and genuinely moving. The play Coping Through Pain written and directed by Elizabeth Fatum was exactly that experience.
Susan (Maggie de Vera) is a woman who has a “unique” way of coping with stress and emotion. This play was brought to life because, like all great theatre before, it’s a necessary topic that needs to be brought to light for the safety of those involved.
The lights went down in the audience and came up on the stage that had a podium, a white board on an easle, and a chair behind the podium; all of which are stage right of center. When the first few actors came on set, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It seemed like it was supposed to be improvised interactions between various groups. Then, enter Susan and you get sucked in by her presence. She begins as a quiet demure woman somewhat clumsy, but when needed, she becomes assertive until she accomplishes her goal, then goes back to quiet and unassuming. And she makes you laugh while doing it. A quick lesson in acting: playing the opposites within moments or beats of each other create interest and energy. Susan uses the following during the opening scene: quiet and mousey to strong and assertive and then back which is funny when done well, and Ms. de Vera was right on the money.
The funny thing about this is that once she gets the actors on stage to leave, she starts the show as though she were presenting to us a lecture about Controlling Uncontrollable Things. She writes the acronym on the board – C.U.T. She begins to explain that emotions and stress are things that are uncontrollable items in life that actually can be controlled. She begins to use an example of a volcano and is suddenly interrupted by a loud thump backstage and then some of the other actors re-enter the stage and play out a scene, and you come to realize that those actors are the physical representations of Susan’s thoughts that show the audience glimpses into Susan’s past and private life which feature Stephanie Rose Neimann who plays Young Susan. This explains the opening of the show. Clever. Following the departure of the “thoughts”, there is a small interaction between Susan with a person that was a focus in the scene before. Once Susan “gathers” her thoughts, she continues with the presentation aspect but is again interrupted. The play is told through this manner of storytelling.
As you can probably guess from the acronym, she suffers from Deliberate Self Harm Syndrome and is considered a “cutter.” This behavior is not unique. The problem is that it’s such a personal act that no one talks about it. And it’s personal for any number of reasons. Sometimes there’s feelings of shame or guilt tied to the action, while some do it because they “feel numb” and are looking to “feel alive.” This behavior affects millions of people, and in a society that is so full of pressure to fit in, the possibility for it to become worse is high. Ms. Fatum made it a point to explain in the show that Susan was a bright and well rounded person. There isn’t a general group that this action encompasses. There is no way to simply look at a person and know if this something that they are going through. I am grateful that Ms. Fatum has planted her foot in the ground and heaved this issue in the audience’s lap.
There are many great moments throughout this too short 40 minute performance. One of the most honest, I think, was when Jodie (Kyeshia Arrington) is talking to Susan and offering her a friendly ear to confide in. One would think that something so simple and easy could be pulled of by anyone. That’s the problem. Nothing is ever that simple. This particular scene felt so genuine that I felt like I was actually in a high school watching two friends secretly talking.
Another great moment is again Susan interacting with her Mom (Shannon Quinn) after a flashback. This was a really well written scene. The mother was questioning her role in her child’s illness.
The most powerful moment is the point when Susan realizes that while she isn’t hurting anyone else, she is hurting the most important person. Herself. At this point, the entire cast is on stage and Susan has just stopped Young Susan from placing another cut on her arm. Then while in an embrace, the Susans in unison ask for help. The rest of the cast, also in unison answer the call. It’s a very moving scene.
Congratulations to Pacifica Spindrift Players Stage 2 for producing an important piece of work for the sake of all those that suffer from this behavior. While there were a few tiny, tiny choices I would have liked to have seen done in a different way, this was a great debut for Stage 2. I live in Campbell, and if this is the type of shows that Stage 2 will be performing, I will be more than happy to drive the 53 miles to see another.
My hope for Ms. Fatum is that, while this piece has grown from a 5 minute skit to a 40 minute play, she continues her work on it thus creating a full length 2 act play. I feel like so many people will be shocked to learn what I have during the 20 minute talk back after the show. If there is a way to incorporate some of that information into the middle of the play to understand the mindset of a person with this illness it could possibly have a bigger emotional pay off in the end. Still, should you ever get the chance to see this show produced elsewhere, please see it.
Since I started this site, I have been trying to get my hands on everything art-y that I can. Well, I had picked up a copy of the Theatre Bay Area magazine for March (it’s the one with the blue cover, orange was Feb.) from the great independent bookstore, Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park. It’s a beautiful day, so I sat outside and began to read the issue. While the activity was enjoyable, it didn’t last too long because I only got to Brad Erickson’s Executive Director’s Note.
I had to rush home because when inspiration strikes I have to work with it as soon as I can. On my first post Hello world! in January of this year, I explained that I would LOVE to help out all of the Arts because the decline was being felt across the board and not just in theatres. Well, the Note gives some of the actual numbers of this research. I find this research is bitter sweet because while the Arts are declining, the act of reading literary works is rising among people 18-24 years of age. So there is an upside, sort of.
I was lucky to have some sort of Arts programs in the elementary and middle schools that I had went to. And as I said in the podcast, I feel exposure to the Arts while growing up is an important factor in appreciating them. Usually, that exposure inspires people to create. It turns out that those that get involved in the Arts are more likely to attend them as well. So it’s a huge cycle. Mr. Erickson gives a great comparison of sports. As a kid they are placed into some sort of little league sport which gets them watching sports, and continuing to play them throughout middle and high school, even college where some pro athletes get made. He follows this up with a brilliant paragraph that made me speed back to Campbell and begin writing for episode 2 of the podcast. And for this short blog post. OH, here’s some of what that paragraph said:
“Can theatre and other traditional arts take a cue from the world of sports? Can we build a seamless continuum of participation that recognizes the the kinship between the youthful thespian, the middle-age community theatre star, the high school drama teacher and the Equity actor?… Can we be honest about the prejudices we hold for other art makers in our own discipline? For the way professionals sometimes not so secretly discount the work of educators, of children, of “hobbyists”? About the way theatre artists sideline the work of colleagues working in unlike genres or venues: large-budget theatres vs. small-budget, new work vs. classical, “edgy” vs. “entertainment”? Can we authentically and respectfully welcome a broad spectrum of theatre engagement motivated by our shared passion for the power of this art form to reveal – in ways both silly and profound – our common humanity?”
So many things to think about just from that one little paragraph.