i have a question...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a typical day at school

me: we talk about feelings and shit
C: weird
me: not really
but...all that's sort of inherent to being creative
C: I mean, "not weird."
me: like...blah blah blah, and i felt vulnerable...
and vulnerability is where the work comes from
and then these kids did something and made me cry
and that's my example of art transforming
that was my day

Monday, September 22, 2008

things I forgot since the last time I was in school, item 5

5. How to audition for a play

conversations with my teacher, vol. II

The graduate assistantship Emerson so generously provided me with requires that I work 10 hours a week in the department office. The professor I got paired with--let's call her RM--is also one of the professors I'm taking a class with. She's pretty much a BFD, an Obie award winner, a solo performer, and one of the prominent voices that sprang up from the Black Arts Movement. One of the items on her to-do list is "Contact Anna Deavere Smith re. class visit." (I would die.)

I started work with her last week and when I'm not sifting through the monstrous piles on her desk or filing her 10,000 emails (no joke), we're talking about Lorraine Hansberry or Danny Glover or the complicated issues of race, culture, and how the arts can bridge gaps and give us language.

Today, she introduced me as her new assistant to a colleague. (Her co-workers always look at me with a mix of pity and admiration when they learn my job...like, "Good luck. Boy, are you gonna need it.")

Her colleague said, "Oh! You're a second RM." And I said "...We're so different!" But the colleague said, "I mean in the soul." To which RM replied, "Definitely."

I agreed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

things I forgot since the last time I was in school, items 3 and 4

3. How delicious and amusing it is to procrastinate writing a paper.
4. How satisfying it is to write something I'm proud of that will also be graded.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

things I forgot since the last time I was in school, items 1 and 2

1. How to double-space a paper
2. How easy it is to write 2-3 pages double-spaced

...to be continued...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

conversations with my teacher, vol. I

I imagine this is a topic I will return to throughout my academic life over the next 2 or so years, so let's just commit it to a column today.

Yesterday, after my evening acting class--Principles of Acting, Augusto Boal--I ended up riding the T home with my teacher for about 20 minutes of my 30 minute ride. We chatted animatedly about how I ended up in the program: I told her I was from New York but had spent 8 years in California and graduated from UC Berkeley. I told her I'd moved back to New York after graduation and about my soul-sapping day job. I told her about how I started volunteering and discovered this latent gift with children and how grateful I am for it. I told her about how confident I am in picking the right program and place for myself, after what feels like a long time of feeling lost.

We talked about how the theater education students aren't all performers and how brave I think those who don't classify themselves as performers are. And how taking a class studying Boal is a risky move for people who don't consider themselves performers. I suggested that studying Stanislavsky, which can sometimes be about delving into past experiences and our psyches, might seem more intimidating than a practice of theater that is about the reality of one's situation, the routine of everyday life.

She told me that she had used this work in prisons and how everyone always comments that "that must be so hard." It made me think about the fact that, in this class, we're a group of white students sitting together and talking about oppression. And how my teacher (who is black) working in prisons is drastically different than me working in a prison. Obviously. And how that's such a charged issue.

She said, literally, as she exited the train, "We're attracted to our work because of our 'Stanislavsky.' You found working with children for a reason, and now it's your job to find out why."

I almost burst into tears on the subway.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

proof I've chosen the right program

1. I wasn't nervous at all this morning, even though I've never been in grad school before.
2. It took me only about 25 minutes to get to campus.
3. I almost cried when the President of the school spoke to us about her own mentor and how excited she was to have a new class entering.
4. We played a theater game within the first hour we were all together.
5. There are 2 other people in the program (of only 35 people) from Brooklyn.
6. I ran into two people that were in the theater department at Berkeley with me.
7. My plan of starting a non-profit organization was highlighted as an innovative one at the career planning session.