"LITTLE MAN: I'm not looking at you. I'm looking at all the evil in the world. Turn out the light. I've lived too long in a room that was nothing but windows and always at noon and with no curtains to draw. Turn out the light."
Auditions have always felt cheap to me, as if an auction is taking place and the actors are once treasured heirlooms begging to be bought and cherished, but are viewed by the buyers as just another object in a long line of replaceable junk. As soon as the preparation begins I start to loose my individuality and become a part of the factory machine trying to make thousands of reproductions of something unclear that might exist in someone’s very specific brain. I don’t want to mold myself to someone else’s imagination! My own imagination and reality are what interest me and what I want to offer to others.
“So what whiny girl.” “And what exactly does that leave you with?”
Even if I try to block out the internal voices of judgement I still do what they want me to by arriving and going through the mechanics. Is it even worth fighting against? Is the answer to accept it as taught and experienced?
I think there is something in the making of mud pies.
Sitting in the lake at our summer house on top of a hill with a flat rock beside me, kneeling in the soft muck and leaves, with the water caressing my legs, and the sun my back. Wearing my favorite two piece bathing suite with funny white and brown flowers, I am making delicious mud pies. The rock only has room for one or two at a time and so their life expectancy is relatively short. It is a happy, simple time piling small fistfuls of wet, clumpy dirt and sand on top of one another. Patting down, smoothing out. Shaping an obsessive circle or oval. Symmetrical.
“Who wants to eat this one!?” “Nom, nom, nom, nom. Thank you.” “This one is for you.” “Now this one is for you.” “One for me.” “Another for you!”
Each ‘thank you’ of good manners teaches the child within me and starts the process again. The dirt is washed away, making the water even more cloudy, but the rock is clean and we are ready to begin. More mud, more shapes, more sizes.
To the person not caring much for the mud pie: Each one is the same (don’t blame them for thinking so.)
To the young artist who can’t help finding the most creative thing to do, even on a hot, lake day: Each one has a similar make up, but is crafted distinctly and purposefully.
More or less mud creating size and height. This one has a splotch of dark earth on the right hand side. Another one has a speck of leaf, a black twig. A large one gets a pebble on top, and some are engraved with a design by my pruney finger.
While polite, no one rushes over to document each pie before its short existence ends. I won’t even remember most of them but will recall the time, the mood, the senses. A little girl having an ideal day with family, escaping the heat. In the only picture I look happy and calm.
So make the machine my own. That could be an answer. Redefine it from cold indifference to careful enjoyment. Yes, each creation will last only a matter of minutes and most of the time no one, including myself, will remember much of anything, but ‘I’ will remain in the preparation, the craft, and the snapshots of life as an artist who performs.
When my wet body was strapped into the back seat of my grandpa’s van, there was a mud pie left behind, sitting on the rock as a physical reminder. No one knows how long it was there. Most likely it was slowly baked in the warmth of the evening sun and then eventually washed away in tiny bits by the wake of passing boats and splashing people. Or perhaps an animal sat down in that secluded spot, or a rain shower came along. But when it comes to an authentic, scrumptious mud pie, that one had a good, long run. It’s existence serving some purpose all the way to this moment.
Do I have the courage to keep creating mud pies with my heart, in the knowledge that they most often will be washed away? I believe so. With the knowledge that the “Thank you,” at the end of each is a signal. The clean water that washes, soothes, and prepares to start again with something similar, built for others, but uniquely made by me.
Had a blast reading some of Seamus Scanlon's poetry with the author himself for the Americas Poetry Festival of New York 2014. Here are some pictures and a blurb in The Irish Echo about the event.
An artist always standing on the brink of decisions, but cannot often decide,
Apologizing. At least not this one….
Art or Family
Art or Stability
Art or Love
The one common factor, the first purpose, but I refuse to believe that there cannot have the others.
Family is the easiest, “no brainer”
Loyalty is the deciding factor.
The guilt I already feel at not being present sometimes sits top of me, but other times 190.03 miles away. Every birthday, holiday, graduation, lifetime achievement. It reminds me just how awful am I as daughter, sister, relation, friend. But THEY are the sure distraction.
My artist’s home is here and now.
Until the need arises. Sickness, death, unknown, I would carry my loyalty back to where is was forged. I will be there and then.
Stability the balance beam
Too much, to little collides with my making.
The scale of consuming, depends on the conversion of energy: to produce we need to consume. All kinds of things.
food water sleep air
life experience image voice
passion inspiration challenge emotion
so grows the list. It all gets stored and maybe released. expanding, hiding, shrinking, interrupting in the beast organ of an artist. There can be no control. It runs rampant even when alluding to making sense. “Exhibit A: I got off topic”
Stability is needs. Needs are necessary but get in the way. So the things that should be my life’s solid foundation get lost in the more glamorous construction.
Love the undefined.
Easily obsessive. But. Love of what? of whom? In the way of story books, I seek it and it seeks me, though could amount to nothing. It is an addiction even when the drug cannot be found. of whom can help or hurt the first purpose. Love of what, the cause of this glorious mess. And it propels me to find Love of when and how. And the rhythm of all and now.
An artist knows how, though each an offering in a different combination. Yet none of this reasoning can put off the looming decisions, pondering over the art’s bubbling shell.
Video by Paul Bedard, Featuring Frankie Alicea, Jake Lasser, and Sofia Lund
It is 2012 and I am sitting in a bar in the East Village watching one of the Presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I have just finished performing in my first production with THEATER IN ASYLUM, Revolution in 1, a new work about the dual meaning of the word 'revolution'-'to revolt' and/or 'to revolve.' Is revolution inevitable in every society? A striking thought while watching two influential politicians, with completely different points of view, arguing about our nations future.
I am with a group of artists from the show and others involved with this vibrant company-all new friends and great people to be around. This is when Paul Bedard, director and writer, first tells me about ¡Olé! He talks to me about Salvador Dalî and Federico Garcia Lorca, two men I have heard of but have never looked into in great detail. He tells me the story of love and art that he has already began to put together. It is fascinating and his passion is contagious...
It seems so long ago now, but that is how I first became one of the dramaturgs for ¡Olé! For the last year and a half I have been keeping busy with research on Dalî and Lorca, gypsy culture, and all different aspect of Spanish history. I have read everything I can get my hands on about or by these men, to the degree that I often find myself chuckling at these two boys as though they are my friends. Though we have never and can never meet, my relationship to each of them has become a personal one.
This past September I also began preparing my role as Company Manager for our tour in May. Some of my duties have included...
-helping to solidify travel arrangements for 7 artists (including myself)
-learning all I can about the Prague Fringe Festival
-learning all I can about the city of Prague
-figuring out how in the world one flies a sword from JFK to the Czech Republic and back with the tight security measures that are in place. Yes Aer Lingus-a METAL sword, not a WOOD one.
-putting together a list of press to contact
-contacting said press
-making sure I don't go insane before we get there :)
But really, I can't wait for this tour! After successful runs in New York, Chicago, Hartford, and Rochester this show and team are eager to go to Prague. The actors know their characters intimately, the music continues to become more captivating, the design is simple and stunning, and the choreography is passionate and seamlessly integrated. But for me, it is the story that makes ¡Olé! what it is. I want these men to be known and their romance to be appreciated. As a dramaturg, I will be the first to admit that the extent of their relationship cannot be proven, but with a script that uses mostly primary sources written by Dali and Lorca, we think the evidence is substantial. And this is the version of their story that needs to be told. It asks the questions so many of us long to answer. In the past, present, and future...what is art and where does is come from? what is the purpose of life and death? what is love and who can have it?
Please consider donating. This will be THEATER IN ASYLUM's first international tour and we need all the help we can get both financially and otherwise (or as I like to say, "spiritually"-those positive thoughts go a long way!) Thank you, thank you, thank you!
(ALSO look out for a video all about how cool Prague is, staring yours truly, to be released soon)
It was a long journey of writing....on trains, in two different apartments, a basement office, and a Hawaiin hotel room. There were multiple versions and titles, extensive edits, and long conversations to get the script to its final form.
Upon walking into the first rehearsal, Laura, our director, gives each of the actors a colored folder.
First Woman Red.
Second Woman Yellow.
Third Woman Purple.
If a color could sum you up, which would it be? If a type of animal embodied you, what would you choose? I decided the Second Woman is a colorful fish.
Skip ahead, past multiple individual and group rehearsals, MORE late night conversations, and an unmeasurable amount of stress, excitement, and questioning. Sitting on stage listening to your own words being performed causes an interesting bunch of sensations.
One. You already have all the emotions that come along with the act of performing.
Two. You want to run and hide, because nothing can prepare you for having your personal secrets exposed to an audience (whether they know they are yours or not).
Three. You feel undeniably grateful that these artists have agreed to make your words come to life. That they have the courage to produce, direct, and perform something that is made up of your life. They have chosen to make a part of you THEIR art, and therefore their LIFE as well.
I will always remember walking off stage with my brave cast mates and embracing both of them in the dark behind the stage. I am not sure where A Shared Name will go next, but my duende and artist still possess me, and future creation is inevitable.
(Enjoy these production photos taken by Stephanie Warren.)
At the end of this amazing process I must thank a few very special people for helping along the way.
First and Foremost to Laura Aristovulos. This is her piece as much as mine and NONE of it would have been possible with out her patience, commitment, and vision. Thank you for believing in and inspiring me to create.
To Emily Goodell and Christiana Blain for lending your sensitivity and talents.
To THEATER IN ASYLUM for trusting in our ability to create a piece of art worth producing. Special thanks to Katie Palmer for taking the lead on The DUENDE Project and making sure A Shared Name had the support it needed to come together.
To Peggy and Bill for allowing us to occupy their apartment as a rehearsal space.
And finally, to the countless family members, friends, and co-workers who acted as sounding-boards, cheer leaders, audience members, and sources of unlimited strength. Thank you.
A Shared Name is my individual encounter with the duende that drives and terrifies me-the multiple people that live inside each of us and yet seem completely incompatible. This piece battles with the different roles women play and how often the internal spirit does not match the external perception. It is brought to life by a group of four passionately different woman who embrace what it means to live and lead in this world of misleading flesh and conflicting inner spirits.
(for more information regarding the event and to buy tickets go to http://www.theaterinasylum.com/the-duende-project.html)
Laura makes her exclusive directorial debut with A Shared Name. She cannot imagine a more human or relatable piece to begin this newest endeavor. Primarily a performer, Laura has found new knowledge and inspiration through this process. She would like to thank Samantha for trusting her with her child and Emily and Christiana for lending their talents.
Meet Christiana Blain (First Woman)
While her beauty is stunning don't let it fool you, there is much going on beneath her skin. A ferocious talent, Christiana commits to and embodies any role she undertakes. She can intimidate or welcome with one look. If you are brave enough to take in her presence you will discover a complex woman, both confident and vulnerable.
Christiana Blain is a NY Actress of Theatre, Film, and TV, and Singer in the Exotik Robotz band. She is thrilled to be a part of A Shared Name. She'd like to thank Samantha, Laura, and Emily for being a part of this fantastic work! Thank you everyone for coming out!
Emily is thrilled to be working with such lovely ladies for this emotional original work. She moved to New York this past fall after graduating from American University. She hopes to continue doing such fulfilling work in her craft.
Meet Samantha Keogh (Writer and Second Woman)
The creative powerhouse behind A Shared Name, Samantha takes on many roles in this project. First, but not foremost, she is the author of this powerful, poetic piece of theatre. Simultaneously she has gone above and beyond bringing life and honesty to her performance. She encourages the audience to follow their dreams while exposing her own doubts. She will bring you peace and happiness, and then break your heart.
Samantha is a dedicated artist, who believes in versatility, commitment, honesty, and the spirituality of creating art. She is a singer, actor, dramaturg, and model, and also enjoys writing, painting, and her job at The Lower East Side Tenement Museum. She is currently the Resident Dramaturg for THEATER IN ASYLUM and working on a variety of new works with the company. She would like to thank Laura, Christiana, and Emily for embracing her work and "expanding it's existence." Feel free to contact her with any questions regarding A Shared Name or The DUENDE Project.
How does one write about race, age, gender, experience? How does one point to the difference to show the similarity? Simple?
Two people sitting next to each other on the train. One is tired from a long day at high school full of young drama and learning. The other is equally tired from a boring eight to five reception job that pays the bills. They both bundle agains the cold on the crowded 3 train toward home. They will both read their way to their destination, content to be lost in the book world provided.
One holds a hard cover copy of a Shakespeare play checked out from the library. The other holds a paperback collection of Tennessee Williams plays, borrowed from a friend. Like the playwrights, they have never met and they will never speak, but they WILL ride this train together with the unconscious, mutual understanding to enjoy these theatrical worlds.
They are different ages as known. They are also different genders and shades in the same human color palette. They share their separate worlds until 116th St, where he finally decides to leave the delayed 3, which will sit for another five minutes. She will ride until 145th, eight pages away from finishing The Night of the Iguana.
Rocking thoughts is a serious of short observations made on the New York subway. An interesting cross section and environment that is truly and as much this city.
Arrival: The sky outside the plane looks elegant. The clouds are flat up to the very blue horizon and only have small breaks and cracks in the surface. They could easily be mistaken for a snowy tundra or a frost bitten field of stubble. This contrast of white and blue must have been the inspiration for countless toothpaste adds.
My brain has the desire to contain only blank thoughts right now. The world is shades of two colors today: cloud and sky.
I sit next to a man who has run a non-profit on the paradise of Maui for over 30 years. He teaches high school age locals carpentry, as a useful skill as well as an artistic outlet, since many have no interest in the Hawaiian education system. They build homes for the elders of their communities, learn to cook with variety using produce they have been taught to grow, and hope to one day replace the mass amounts of land used for sugar plantations with local farming instead. I applaud this passionate man who has given me so much understanding in a modicum of time. Like the world needs more sugarcane….
First impression: My sister gives me the support I need each morning to write and keep this creativity satisfied. The grooves on the mountain look so beautiful in the morning sun--like ancient rivers that carved their way down to create wrinkles of age. I suppose the term mountain could offend these sleeping volcanoes of majesty. An upset is out of the question.
Let us proceed with caution, support, and respect amongst each other.
Sounds: This place is alive with noise and melody. The wind, through more than many palms, all rustle against each others rhythm. So many birds.
chup chup chup in the middle.
coo coo-coooo-coo coo-coo-coo in evens.
a lone throat gurgle whoo-whoo.
All this is masked by the low and constant rumble of the nearby ocean, both comforting and foreboding. It reminds us to always remember the possibility of destruction as it gives us such pleasures of the senses. The unknowing possessor.
Thoughts: She mutters, “My life is en---” “What?” “My life is enchanted? It is just wonderful. Don’t you think?” I mostly agree because right now I can be in this place with you, but not sure if our reasons coincide.
Morning: A little boy is chanting/singing undefined in the pool. I burned yesterday a misleading pink. Trying to kick the floating daze this place has wrapped my energy in. The whales are my companions. They come here to give birth--the mothers starve for three months to give the calves the warm water they need, and to give inattentive entertainment.
Summary: The landscape here is unimaginable to a New England native. The mountain faces are cliffs running into each other all in fuzzy green and brown. It is the shape and texture of space with plants. An invitation to climb, swim, ride, and explore, but just make sure to see. A new world. A new memory. A new resource.
My taxi driver tells me of his home here and the mixing of cultures and people from all over, once immigrated to the plantations of work. This man is a mix of native, Philippino, Japanese, Irish, and Portuguese. The last thing I will learn is that the ukulele was born in Portugal. Like so many it has found a home on these calm islands of eruption.