Tonight, at 7:30p, we will preview 'Lorca in a Green Dress'. It's been a great journey so far, not only have I learned much more about the man, Federico Lorca, but I know more about the Spanish Civil War of the thirties than I'll ever need to. This is the first time I've directed for Teatro Bravo, and will be the first time I've ever directed a show posting up at Phoenix Theatre. After so many years of directing and producing shows 'off the grid', its nice to be in a real theatre, with bells and whistles and lights that hang at the proper height. It is, however, still theatre with all its complexities, issues, and mystery. For me, there have been lots of new challenges, (including some of the play in Spanish).
One of the greatest challenges and joys for me has been designing the set for the show. I built six crates from scratch, a bull-ring gate, and with the help of Chuck, a back wall cyc of a Salvadore Dali painting. I think it all turned out great. It's been advantageous directing while designing. As the understanding of the play evolved, I could make adjustments to the design as I went along. Very satisfying. So, everything seems to be working well, just the preview tonight, (pay what you can) and Friday the opening. Here we go!
My body right now is another story. On one hand, it feels good for all of my muscles to be sore from all the physical labor, on the other hand, there is always some pain in my body that I know shouldn't be there. I can deal with the soreness, but it’s the nerve pain that really is pounding right now. The right side of my body from the waist down, is just quivering with pain. Each time I step on my right foot, I can feel it all up my leg. It is frustrating, but I've lived with it for so many years as sadistic as it sounds, I'm kind of used to it. I got a little angry again this morning at so many members of my family who are unsympathetic to the years I've spent with this condition. I think especially since this criticism was something that I just discovered was happening. As I get older, and have dealt with this issue, I tend to be empathetic and more accepting of people with chronic illness. When they reach for alcohol and medication to mask it, I also tend to understand that as well, I've done it myself. The fact is, if you are in pain for an extended period of time, a point comes when you just want to spend a few hours pain free. The problem arises when you think you can sustain a pain free existence by sustaining the medication, for addicts and alcoholics, it doesn't work so well. The trick is to keep moving, which I do. I think that's why I love performing as well, fifteen minutes into performing, the pain subsides, and for the next two or three hours, music or acting can obtain its pain free zone, and that has to be a large part of why I do it. It’s a medication unto itself, however, one can't sustain that either for the full day, but it does help, and there is no medication involved. I've always been a performer who can't function well doing either alcohol or medication along with performing, I have to have my mind completely clear of both to do it at a very high level. Especially acting, in fact, its horrifying even to think of going on stage to do a show impaired, it takes to much concentration. Performing does tend to release a natural pain soothing chemical to the body and mind on its own, and its natural. So, all I can say to members of my family is that it may be only when you reach a point of pain (all day) in your own body will you have the understanding to be empathetic, and until you do, I will stay away.
Last night I had a dream about my younger brother. We were in a physical fight, and I kept trying to stop it, but he kept coming at me, swinging fists and striking blows, I had no recourse but to fight back, inflicting blows upon him myself. I kept thinking, (in the dream) that I don't want to hit him, but then it turned around in the dream and I found myself moving into him with the prowess of a boxer until he could no longer stand. It was a horrifying dream, because I so love my brother, but we have come to distances. Its always disturbing when family members become intolerant of each other, especially when its ignorance and contrasting values that cause the breech. I developed a habit early in my life, of protecting my mother in dire circumstances, and even thought I was physically to small to protect her from adults, I developed a strong mind of protection. For some reason, (maybe from being much like her) I seemed to instinctually know that she was worthy of my protection. I tend to see people in the best possible light. When I taught school, I was always able to cut through faults and insecurities that kids had within them, to find the pearl in the oyster. I could spot talent in people that no one else could see, and I was vocal about it. I can still see the talent in people, and I love to draw it out. When I lay in bed thinking of others, like all of us, I can think some pretty mean thoughts, but mostly, I think well of everyone. I tend to give them the benefit of any doubt that I might have, and that is why I always give people chances, over and over again. Forgiving seven times seventy. Forgiving people is a well-known principle, but it is also a gift that many people have. It's really pretty simple. I don't think it is so much the actual conflict that causes a breech between friends and family that is harmful, it’s the managing of the thinking when the conflict is over. What will the thought process be? What is my part in it? Can I resolve the issue? Better, how can I resolve the issue. Kindness is always the action, always. If I chose to never forgive my father for years of forgetting me, I would have never had the relationship I had with him for the last twenty years of his life. The downside of that forgiveness is that when he disappeared and then died, I still have trouble accepting his death. It's because the bridge I had to cross with him was so damaged. Great forgiveness yields great love. If you have to cross a burning and falling bridge to get to the other side to forgive, the risk is worth it, but it does create an understanding and a love that is unyielding.
I'm continuing on with my love and study of astronomy, the cosmos, and lately, understanding physics. I am astounded by the fact that we were created from star-dust, and now when I look into the sky at the clouds, I see water, hydrogen, and oxygen. I believe that this new field of study for me is the continuing quest to find the God that created all of this, and that the connection to a creator has nothing to do with religion. The things that the human race does to each other in the guise of religion has nothing to do with star dust. It's what that stardust has somehow become. (Maybe it’s the carbon?) Its fascinating for me to think that I can find some original thought on the subject of God and creation, and that delving deeply into the stars and the universe is more comforting than I ever found in any church. I am now feeling more connected to the scientific community, and can't wait until we find that first planet that yields life, and as the scientific community is screaming to all of us, "Its very close!" One night, I had the thought that we should have scientists on television constantly telling this story, that maybe, just maybe, we could look to the universe and see its beauty, instead of constantly looking at each other and finding blight.
"Look to the stars, young man, look to the stars!"
Okay, I have to go and do this theatre thing…star-dust on stage, it’s a mystery!