Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In the Telling

I’m learning so much by memorizing Emily Dickinson's poems and saying them out loud. Yesterday saying the words “inebriate” I could feel a propulsion of breath bursting out of my mouth to be sucked in by the words “of air”. Leaning into the words and letting them create sensations and then feelings in the body. (Check the August 1 post for the poem: "I taste a liquor never brewed.")

I'm beginning to read a book by Cicely Barry called "From Word to Play: A Handbook for Directors." In the beginning she says there is no difference between words to action and action to words. Now I'm beginning to feel it. The body speaking is a moving instrument. Barry says we must bring sound back into theater. It reminds me of what I learned from studying with Shakespeare and Company in the Berkshires. They pointed out that before written language the sounds in the oral traditions were so graphic that the TELLING evoked intense feelings. That's why Shakespeare's language is so visceral and compelling. When really spoken the consonants clang, burst, throb, ssssss's slither and lisp; lll's be liquid lilting waves. Sounds go straight to the "body" of the audience.

Makes me understand why theater is so wonderful. To hear a live actor reverberating on stage with all the nuances and minute tellings...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

This is Hard to Write,

but I said I'd report on the progress of my play. So here it goes: I've read the play with my husband, read it with an actor Douglas Kenning, and now have gotten it critiqued by my assistant, and they all confirmed this tiny but insistent voice inside of me about certain parts of my play. It needs to be rewritten. I didn't want to cop to it. I wanted to cut to the chase, get it up... But I noticed that all these different points of view often corollated with a slightly nauseous pulling sensation I'd feel inside when I'd read certain sections. So tag I'm it and I have to rewrite. I also realize that part of my reluctance was my nervousness about whether or not I could do it. The play came through me in two weeks. It was a gift. How could I go back and find the inner threads to reweave places where the fabric was stretched too thin? How could I cut some of the imagery without destroying the integrity? Now I know I can do it. I was writing so fast that I skipped stuff. And my listening wasn't quite as acute on some days.

One of the scary parts of being an artist is sometimes you've got to break some eggs and the risk is sometimes you can't put it back together if you don't like it. It's scary, but as the egg breaks I'm going to try and let in the excitement too.

So my plan is to spend the next while listening to my play in as many different ways as I can so I can feel the core and let the core tell me what to write. I find myself taking a deep breath.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Definition of Emily Dickinson

I know this sounds like an oxymoron. I didn't know you could define a person, particularly Miss Emily, but this one fell into my lap while I was reading a review of "A Summer of Hummingbirds": "Emily Dickinson was fierce and enigmatic, an exotic genius disguised as a New England spinster."

This epiphany came from a fairly damning review of the book by Laura Miller in the "New York Times." I could agree with her if the book was supposed to be the type she was reviewing. But as you can read in my last post, the book offers something else and I think more important. I'm so glad I stumbled upon it in a bookstore and didn't listen to the review.