Thursday, May 1, 2014

Power

I have been thinking a lot about power lately. I am thinking about those with power and those who have no power; doing their best, working hard and doing the work of their life but under those people who have all the power and the money. I have never ascribed to money. I do what I do for the love of my art. I need to make a living but I have never looked for fame or fortune. I have only ever looked to the execution of the communal art of theatre. I am an artist, but it is a very specific art. I can make what others envision happen on stage. What an incredible joy.

Yet, I cannot do this alone. I am a tool others use to realize that art. I am the communicator. I am the center of the hub. I am the one person who knows what every one else needs to know and my ultimate job is to make sure all these individual artists are talking to each other and that the final piece of theatre reflects the art of all within the directors' vision.  

And the actors. What a surly bunch they can be.  (I say this lovingly!) I must manage these lovely people and help them understand we are all in this together. We have to "be in the same show." Through the run we must keep to the director's vision and yet still grow in understanding and in the playing of the piece. 

Down here in the trenches, with the crew and the stage manager staff we are left to make it all work. And we do. Most of the time. We are dedicated and as it ever was historically we are the lowest of the low. We do not get the accolades or the appreciation that should come with the work we do. We work in silence and verbally cheer the achievements of our fellows.

We are the powerless. We are the ones working for little money for the art. We give everything and get nothing except our own love of the art. Most of the time we are excluded from the most basic pizza party. 

Well. I probably wouldn't have gone to the pizza party anyway so it is okay. It would have been nice to have been invited. 

It has been said that with great power comes great responsibility. I believe that. I try to use my little bit of power to promote and help those looking to get into this stupid mercurial business. 

I have given my students an assignment. I want to talk about perception and how it effects everything. 

I am still learning that lesson now. 

mkk.

 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Report on Facebook.

I was challenged to write a blog about "Social Media." I spent some time earlier this week and wrote a very dry "book report" about how I felt. I did not publish it at the time. The blog offered nothing new and was boring!

Suffice to say, I like social media. I prefer the occasional text message (maybe that qualifies as social media?) because a text feels more personal. I far prefer a lengthy email or a phone call.. or a coffee, in person, with friends. More ... human.

For those who enjoy reading textbook-like material I have included the earlier blog below. Yawning has been pre-approved and is expected.

Wednesday, January 23:
"While examining the topic "Social Media" one is immediately drawn into a conversation about facebook in particular.  While I recognize twitter and linkedin are also quite popular they serve different interests and are not the subject of this blog.

Facebook is a remarkable entity. To have the ability to connect and share with so many "friends" is kinda brilliant. I am painfully aware of the detractors. Let me first offer some praise.

I love seeing members of my family on facebook. Some family members use it more than others. All of us share pictures and comments and funny videos. We don't live that close together so the little bit of touching base is satisfying. I enjoy watching my nieces and nephews communicate with each other. I don't know where else I could see and appreciate how fond they are of each other. I love the random comments. I gain a little bit more insight into each one. We are all set to fairly strict privacy settings. I don't see the down side.

I have enjoyed finding old friends, particularly from high school. Some of us have actually managed to get together in person. It has been lovely.

I take pleasure in reading about my students' lives. I like to see what they are up to and where they have landed after graduation. Very cool.

I delight in the conversations that have developed with my current friends and colleagues. I even appreciate the occasional cat picture!

I know a lot of people have developed a healthy... hmm, "fear" is too big a word, a healthy distrust of facebook. I get it. Some of my very dear friends do not participate very often or never joined the network or have effectively left facebook. Most are worried about privacy and feel on some level that facebook is intrusive and an imposition. Some have just become too addicted and find it takes up too much of their time. Some have been stalked. (I find that if I keep up with my privacy settings and delete the occasional inappropriate comment I feel safe and unconcerned.)

The most compelling arguments I find for leaving facebook (or not participating in the first place) are as follows:
1. Whatever you post is out there. You can't really control your own content. Once published all lives somewhere in the ether. Scary thought.
2. Facebook (and other social media like twitter) can in fact be very addicting. Some folk find the casual contact more of a nuisance. Some find it ultimately distancing. The contact is, after all, very superficial. Some of us prefer physical contact, telephone contact or at the very least lengthy emails.

Ultimately I agree with my friends' reasons for leaving facebook behind or untouched. I take no issue. I have found a way to use the social network for my own ends and quite enjoy it. I don't find I spend too much time wandering through casual friends' posts."

Back to the present:
Hmm. As you can see... if you got this far.. I bored myself and was unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion. Ah well.

Next time!
m.

Monday, January 7, 2013

What Comes To Pass.

I am not poor. I want to make that very clear before I write the following post. People all over the world are suffering in poverty and that is not what I am talking about here. I ache for them and if I thought $25 would help I would send it, and I do.

Trying to look at the positive.
When one has very little or no money coming in, one is glad one anticipated an eventuality one never really thought would come to pass. When one is so good at one's work the idea that she would have trouble finding that work (always in the back of one's mind but didn't really believe) was anathema. Well, here it is.

I have work but I am underemployed. I have more work coming but it won't pay enough to replace what we've had to spend to get through these tough times. We've put away a sum of money that will take us through these times.. but it won't last if the tough times continue. I know many are struggling and wondering how far their savings will take them. And this is the worst time. Property taxes are due. Insurance policies are due. These are large expenditures. Then.. the sink stops working...

Ah, life.

Okay.. The upside to "feeling" poor. (Again..I am not poor. I am just underfunded. )
You can't eat cookies you don't buy.
You walk to the post office to save gas.
You exercise in your room and do not join a gym.
You find amazing products at the dollar store. Just what you NEED! Amazing.
1 pound of meat for 2 people can last three days if prepared properly.
Cooking at home seems more expensive, but in fact is cheaper.. Leftovers! YaY! Love leftovers. Just have to re-heat.
Drinking less.
Smoking less.
My nails are a mess and need addressing.. sorry, off topic..
Walking more.

It is a bit hard right now. It will get better. I will I will I will do whatever needs to be done. In the meantime.. I am doing less and looking in my pantry and trying to bring something fresh to the table.

That is all I have to say.
xo
m.




Friday, January 4, 2013

Travelogue. And Going A Little Wizard Of Oz.

My Dear Readers:
There are multitudes of vacation show places. One can go to to Yosemite. Breathtaking. Really. One can go to the Grand Canyon.. a little different.. your breath is actually taken away. True. Upstate New York is gorgeous and if you've ever been to Woodstock and spent the night you know you have to return. The hills call you. The small lakes and parks outside of Cleveland are romantic. New York is New York. The Park is so good. San Diego's Balboa Park is just out and out beautiful and should probably be everyone's first choice. But.

I am going to go a little Wizard of Oz here folks. Look in your own backyard. If you can't find what your are looking for, look behind you, or over to the next street or up the hill. If you live in LA you can look west and north. If you live in NYC you can look north and south and east. I can't speak to any more large cities. I don't know them all.

I want to travel.. just a little bit. I want to leave my house with my husband and go somewhere. We have been lucky. In our lifetime we have traveled, mostly because of my work or to see his family. We have spent time in NYC, in London, in Cleveland, in Boston (love Boston), in San Diego, in Seattle and San Francisco.  We have visited relatives in Saint Louis. I have lived in St. Louis for a week or two. On tour I have visited more cities than I care to count.

I have been to a lot of places. I still want to go back to the Ventana Inn. My favorite place. On the coast of California. So beautiful and part of Big Sur. Ah.. too expensive now.

So... my husband and I take these amazing little trips. We happen to live seconds away from the Angeles Forest, and Angeles Crest Highway. Really? You haven't heard of it? Oh, My Gosh! It is a trip through the San Gabriel Mountains, on one side is the Mohave Desert... you are up so high... and the other.... downtown Los Angeles. It is a rim drive. Wow. Unbelievably Cool.

I have lately (within the last 5 years) become obsessed with a small campground about 30 minutes form our house. The picnic ground is called Switzer, pictured above.
 Or just here.. The Wash.. minutes from my house. They call it the "Tujunga Wash." I call it a river in the spring and a spring in the summer. Really, this is 10 minutes away on foot. So beautiful and so calming.

If you can't find your heart's desire within your own backyard, maybe you didn't want it in the first place.

Seems true. Well, my backyard is particularly wonderful. Yet.. I had to go looking for it. Will you?

xo
m.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Resolution.

We have a peculiar tradition in this country. We make New Year's Resolutions. The practice has apparently been around since Roman times in one form or another. We mark the end of one year and look forward to the next. (January is named for Janus, the two-faced god who looks both to the past and to the future.) I find it peculiar because it is a practice that so many of us follow and so few of us keep longer than a month or two, if that. The trivial nature of our resolutions may have much to do with this.

We collectively and individually resolve to lose weight, exercise more, eat less (and in this country, those are near vital resolutions.) We promise to quit smoking or to drink less. We resolve to start each day with a smile or to make up the bed or to keep the house cleaner. We will mow the lawn more frequently or paint the house or learn the piano or a foreign language. We will work harder at school or read more...
These promises are all well and good. I wonder why we need the New Year to add weight to what is essentially self-improvement.

I am all for self-improvement. I just think that it is the daily promise we should make to ourselves. "Hmm. Didn't do so well with that today. Tomorrow I'll do better."

The word itself is peculiar. Resolution. In the tradition of New Year's it is a promise, vow or oath. In another context it can mean the end of an incident or the wrapping up of details... The end of the story, if you will, much like a denouement. Resolution can signify that now it is time to move on.

Back to New Year. Certainly New Year's eve is the end of something... this year the end of some very difficult and tragic times. We come to the close of the year. The resolution of 2012. Perhaps resolution should involve looking back collectively at 2012; at a year that offered up some of the most heart-breaking, harrowing and horrible incidents in this country's history. Perhaps by looking back with thoughtfulness and regret we can then resolve to help each other, look to what our neighbors need and take those important steps together towards a more positive future.

Let us look back so we can look forward with hope and unity and love. Maybe if we promise to each other we will find our resolution to be that much stronger and last that much longer.

Peace.
m.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Have Yourself A Merry...

My sister used to sing,
"Christmas is coming.
The goose is getting fat.
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you."

When we were quite young this song made us laugh and laugh. We finally figured out that a ha'penny is half a penny. That in and of itself was pretty funny. We imagined someone cutting a penny in half!
Why would a goose be getting fat? Oh... some people must eat goose! "Ew" we thought. And how could you eat a goose you knew? The "old man" conjured up pictures of someone like Aqua-lung. ("Snot running down his nose...") We would never give that guy a penny! We'd run away! All in all the song made little sense to us, but it was fun to sing!

I find myself singing the song lately. I ponder, "Christmas is coming. It is illegal in California to fatten a goose on purpose. No more fois gras here. Am I to assume all old men need a penny? Most old men I know are doing quite well in their retirement. I certainly don't have a ha'penny. Well, maybe I do. I'll have to look through my old coins from my trip to Europe when I was 15. Don't know why God would care whether I had a ha'penny or not though..." Silliness! The workings of my brain.

As Christmas approaches I find myself thinking about choices I've made in the past year and choices I've made in my life that have brought me to this point. It is easy to sink into a profound depression regretting decisions made by one's younger self. Did I turn my back on opportunities that could have led me down a different path? I'm sure I did. I'm sure I could have made more money, been more famous... whatever. But then, I have to stop and really look at where I am. It is true that times have been difficult, not only for us, but all over. My under-employment has as much to do with the economic realities of the times as it does with the choices I've made.

And what about those choices? I decided to stay in California, in part, to be close to my mother who was very ill the last ten years of her life. Now I try to stay and work in California because my dad is older and I want to spend as much time with him as I can before I lose him too. California is an easier place for my husband to manage. He can't travel much anymore. Frankly, I prefer the weather here. I like owning and driving my own car. I like how big the outdoors are and I love my plenty big house.

So... attitude adjustment. I found a poinsettia for $2.99 at Trader Joe's. It is beautiful. I've decorated my house with all the ornaments and lights I've had for years. Long ago we bought an artificial tree and it suits me just fine. I'm not allergic to it. The house looks good. I'm baking my grandmother's cookies that only I know how to make and making that the gift I give my family. I am again cooking for most of my family for Christmas brunch, up at my dad's house. This fills my dad with joy! And it is fairly easy.
I have the most wonderful loving husband who takes care of me better than I could have ever hoped when I was that young girl laughing over the lyrics to an English Christmas song. The view out my back window right now of the local mountains swathed in clouds, the rainy day, my husband plucking on the guitar, the glass of cheap chablis I'm drinking all delight the hell out of me. I am lucky and, son-of-a-bitch, I am happy.

I know what a difficult time this can be for some people. My heart goes out. One has to find one's own way out of that miasma of despondency and melancholia that cripples some and brings others so much grief. I have found my way back up and out again. It is the little things we can sometime look to. Family, friends and home. Thank goodness.

I celebrate Christmas, so Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays to everyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas. Happy end of another (insert your own adjective) year. Next stop, 2013. Bring it on!

xo

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Luxury Of Art.

We have been inundated lately with the "loop holes" congress is considering to balance the budget. Gosh, I hope one of them is not my mortgage interest. Then I think... well, maybe they will eliminate the deduction on healthcare. Geeze... that is a large part of our income... hmmm, charitable deductions? Employee business expense? No one is offering any specifics except when it comes to the Arts.

Yes! Let's get rid of the pittance we give to theatre and independent film and dance and music. Let us abolish that! Those (very few) dollars will make up the deficit. Assholes.

Every major country supports the arts. Except this one. Why? Well, most people (except in this country) understand that The Arts is who we are. Not us. No, no no. Not us. We seem to honestly think that if people can have a roof.. and I mean a simple tarp... some food.. and I mean what you can buy with food stamps.. we'll be okay. Some Republicans think supplying that is too much. How then are we to make a case for ART?

Well. I don't think we should offer a piece of theatre when a population is literally starving. I think we need to find a way to feed them first. I think we need to offer more than a tarp as a home. Yes! I get that. But after that then, what?

Why do we live? It is the greater question. One could offer religion though I find that argument specious at best. Art does something else nothing else does. It offers a reason for this existence.

I am a theatre artist. I am proud of it. I teach art. I practice art. I help create art.

I can't imagine living such a mean life without a song or a painting or a poem or a play. Art gives meaning to our existence and more than that exemplifies our hopes and dreams.

Without art we are nothing but apes living in cities instead of trees.

Art mirrors us, teaches us, restores us, entertains us, reflects us and ultimately defines who we are.

K. Have to move on to the monetary issue. The small amount of money we get from the government allows us to reach and teach students of all ages. That small bit of money from the NEA allows us to develop new work that can change someone's mind. That bit of money enables theatre companies all over the country to employ hundreds of workers and artists and stagehands and publicists and stage managers and actors and ... All who will pay taxes on this income.

It is just the that very tiny push of Federal Money that makes the difference.

We need this. Art defines us. Art describes us. Art informs us. Art changes the way we look at the world. Art brings us joy and sorrow.  Art is who we are. Without Art we might as well be apes looking out for the next fruit filled tree.

And... We are better than that.
xo