Thursday, July 22, 2010

'Down From the Mountain Top, Out to the Sea'

It's been a few days now since the festival. Recovery at last seems imminent. Once again, there is always a minor let down, and this week has been no exception. Still, there are lingering thoughts of the whole carnival, and there is next year. Camille, Cheryl, Dan, and I met yesterday for a 'debriefing'. It was a good meeting, even though this year I noticed a little more conflict in the mix, a sign of growth and a deeper assessment. Like a marriage, as time goes on, things deepen, and the rose loses some of its bloom. I'm beginning to weigh the next 'big thing' or rather, the next production for me. Sean, my friend from LA is supposed to arrive this afternoon, but I've been waiting for him for a month. The plan is to start rehearsals as quickly as he arrives. Tracee will come up from Phoenix to do the female part, but there is still no real funding for the project, once again, it will be an act of faith. I've learned over the years that this is the normal turn of events, a play derives its own energy and attraction, but is always an act of faith. This year, however, its especially tough because of the economic climate. As an artist, economic depression is not unusual, but when it strikes the whole country, it has a definite effect on what we can do and what we can't do. So, we do it anyway. At night before I fall asleep, I have vivid images of what the play looks like. One component of theatre is that it lends itself to powerful images because it is so contained and immensely visual. It will be especially tough here, because the actors will have to survive in a beautiful but harsh environment, and also because the theatre space will have to be created from scratch, although there is a foundation already created. One of the most difficult aspects of any theatre project is getting to that day when the actual rehearsals begin. Pre-production in theatre is a hustle at best, a crazy notion, felt in every part of the body and mind.

I also have to juggle the music for grocery money, and now, art and building supplies, but last night I went to play in an empty restaurant, which happens occasionally this time of year. After doing the festival, I have some cache, and a certain reminder in peoples' mind that this is what I know how to do, but it’s a fleeting good will, for we are all conditioned to gage success in very specific ways. Still, the climate seems good for this type of project, but I can't help feeling at this point of my career there should be more funding for what I do. Most people fund in small amounts by buying a ticket, but have no idea the struggle one goes through to entertain them. My kind of theatre, however, I like to believe is more than entertainment, it is a challenge to the senses and the mind and spirit. People are often perplexed by the fact that I would choose to do a difficult play up on a mountain mesa that is equally difficult to drive to, but if the work is interesting, and if there is a reason for doing it there, they will come. At this point in my life, I find it amazing that these creations that form in my mind are becoming increasingly more difficult, still, they are executed with years of experience. It's always a little unsettling to continue a life that is a 'nothing to lose' proposition, but my views are changing at this way of looking at art. I think we often think of artists and writers as people who somehow broke through a system that bound them, the fact is there is a reason that artists and writers are dead before anyone realized what they were trying to do. And so often, even other artists don't comprehend the dogged pursuit of a creation. However presumptuous it is to give people what they need rather than what they want, it is an extremely necessary function of art, to push the boundaries of what people are willing to tolerate. It’s the very reason its difficult for most artists to get funding. I've said it before, and say it again, an artist must be willing to spend his last twenty dollars for his work, even if it means skipping a few meals. I honestly believe this. In this trajectory, life does become extremely difficult, but it’s a part of the territory. However, in a world where there are people just trying to survive the day, it is not that much to ask. I try to remind myself of this, it's hard though, in a climate of plenty. I think people examine a production like The Boulder Heritage Festival and think, there is a quality to this production I don't fully understand, but am benefiting from, how is it that this fellow who is part of its creation be so poor? There is success all around it, but the genesis of it is art and humanity. It is also the nature of the life I have chosen, and its value is an unselfish act. There was a deepening of the festival this year that bordered on miraculous, which any great theatre does. Now, this takes a lot of people to pull this kind of theatre off, but I think the leadership of this event is awe inspiring. I think somewhere in the King mind and spirit of my two cousins and I, the synergy is a miraculous collective understanding. Our heritage, or our own histories, coupled with our own present living experiences make the spiritual component a rich undertaking. When everything lines up, the emotion of the actual event is deeply healing and satisfying. When you have six hundred people together in a boiler pot of good will, and even the small things seem miracles, there is some kind of other worldly leadership as well, its undeniable. We have to keep remembering why it's important. In states of human failings, it's easy to create conflict that in the end, is a very small price to pay.

On Sunday, I took the two women from Austin up to Anselm's, (where I'm doing the play) and am always struck by what I experience and see there. Not only is there a tremendous energy rising from the mountain he lives on, but it permeates all of his art. My philosophy and beliefs don't always line up with his way of viewing the world, but I can't deny that he is a master of his art. To me, it can be disturbing but is always breathtaking. I can't help but feeling that he is taking the mountain's energy, and his eye for creating, and executing his art with an ever demanding passion. I am continually respectful of his creation. There are plenty of half finished visions on a monumental scale, but all of them are not without merit. The women I took up there, I think, were also aware of the powerful creation of Anselm's art. That is why I look to his mountain top to create, there is something undeniably powerful. My plan is to do one project a year there.

Well, its time to seize the day, even though I sense this one will be a struggle, I have two checks that will bounce today, and I owe money to the whole world it sometime seems. Although I have to admit, I worry less about it now, not from a sense of entitlement, rather, from a realization that there is nothing I can really at present do about it. Why is this fellow so continually poor? Shall I get a 'real' job? A reminder, this IS my real job, and it’s a tough one…


Gerry said...

On the practical side, I just sent you $40 and there will be more next month. But what I think artists have to do is draw back from giving the life that sustains them. Not give too much. Art takes an awful lot of tilling the soil so it can be appreciated enough to grow. An artist has to recognize a need to move on, not give so much in that place, go about sustaining life and getting rejuvenated. Have been reading the life of Paul Coelho called a Warrior's Life, who is from South America. He was determined to be a writer and rebelled against his parents who were equally determined he would be practical and become an engineer or something like that. Twice they incarcerated him for his rebellion, the last time agreeing to a series of electric shock therapy! Yes! He was from wealth, but was hounded from the day he was born. He ends up finally in Paris, having been born in Brazil, but on that road he became a world famous writer. The answer is to keep moving when you have gone as far as you can in that locale, to think of belonging to the world, rather than to one place, because many have to see you before you can give to all. So the answer is to plan your next MOVE. Mom said...

I do think that you foundation managers should get some amount from the Boulder Festival. You should decide on an amount and if you don't need it, put it back in, but if you do...spend it to eat!
It is always great to eat! Gives you energy for the next move. Who all was paid? You need to add three more!