Wednesday, 26 December 2018

2018

Despite its tumultuousness almost globally, 2018 was a year of accomplishments for me. I earned my master's from NYU Tisch this year, after a lightning-quick program of only nine months. I've applied to two Ph.D. programs in hopes of continuing that study. I've been working enough to survive in New York City, which is a great feat alone. Some of this work has put me in front of the camera, an avenue I'd like to explore more going into the future. I've been directing and teaching, singing and playing, acting and writing—using all of my skills to put together an artistic and academic life.

In 2019, I'm launching Rogue Pedagogy to further explore that artistic and academic life. As I wrote in my recent application essays:
Rogue seeks to exploit the primary relationship that defines theatre, according to Jerzy Grotowski and others. An example of this definition can be found in Tadashi Suzuki’s essay “On Acting”—theatre is the specific space where the actor and spectator interact. The actor-spectator relationship is explored by a number of artist-theorists in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including Augusto Boal, who writes about turning the spectator into an actor through his interventions such as Forum Theatre. By utilizing performance strategies from these and other artist-theorists through the lens of [Diana] Taylor’s work (and others’), Rogue hopes to produce theatrical and workshop experiences which can foster learning. Learning is especially important given the current political climate, where so much of the discord between people can be found in educational disparity. (Some of this has to do with the will to learn, following Rancière, who rightly notes that learning can only take place if the learner has the will to learn. Where there is no will to learn, there is no learning.)
Through learning, we learn about each other. By learning about each other, we become more tolerant of each other—not the sort of tolerance which allows bigotry and hatred to flourish, but rather the sort of tolerance which understands difference as merely a part of the human experience. Learning encourages curiosity, which breeds understanding. This is why, for me, there is no greater contribution which can be made to humanity than the fostering of learning; and this is why I feel it is so important to share performance’s power to change minds—as both a cure and a warning.
I'm starting 2019 off with a stage show, The Buddy Holly Story at the Engeman Theater in Northport, N.Y. I'll be continuing my work with American Immersion Theater and singing with Calvary-St. George's Parish in New York City. And, of course, Jade Rosenberg and I are still writing a musical we hope to have finished in 2019.

So, may the new year be filled with abundance, peace, and hope—for you, for me, for everyone!

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Marriage

My relationship with the concept of marriage is a bit fraught. I went through my first divorce at the age of thirteen, when my dad decided he didn't want to be with my mom anymore. At the time, he painted it like it was Mom's decision, but that's not really what happened. My second divorce occurred when I was just out of my undergrad. That time it was my stepmom who made the call, but it wasn't without reason; and, being older, I was able to see her side very clearly. My dad's actions forced me out of his circle as well, and it's been strained ever since, even as now he is on his third family. I went through my own divorce beginning about five years ago, an ordeal that left me psychologically scarred.

A lot has happened since. A lot of healing has taken place, and in the past year and a half, I have felt myself again. It's been a journey, and I am grateful for all the stops along the way, all the people I have met, and all the friends who have stuck with me despite the darkness and pain I've carried with me.

They say that, historically, marriage is a business transaction. It's a merging of assets to create a larger fortune, or to expand one's territory, or to gain prestige. The relationship between marriage and love has been argued extensively. Romeo and Juliet might be about that, though A Midsummer Night's Dream takes the concept to its absurd conclusion—and still ends with all the couples neatly arranged, all the love settled and ordained. I've been of the mind for some time that love can be true, lasting, and even consecrated without the mantle of marriage thrown upon it. Yet, marriage has its visibility in the law, and so I see the benefit of getting married as an addition to the love two people feel, not as a necessity.

This is all to say that I've met someone. She's a perfect fit, made to measure, a match I would go to the grave with. As much as I know there is no real need for marriage to sanctify our love, I understand its importance. The act of marrying is one that J.L. Austin recognized as one of the basic performative utterances—in being said, it is done. The marriage ceremony is all performance, but that performance has a certain power, a particular meaning. It is a ritual which many communities perform, though in different ways and with slightly different meanings and purposes around the globe. There is a spiritual aspect which weaves with the communal aspect. It allows the community to participate in the shared love, and, for those who believe, it invites the divine presence into a shared life.

It is hard to know what the future holds, but having a kindred spirit share your path makes it better. I hope we may be able to always see that benefit, and to always see the good in each other, and support each other through the darkness and pain which always inevitably arises. Patience, understanding, and love is the only way to heal the world.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Reflection on a Final in Fred Moten's Class

An excerpt from the scroll.

Some of the members of the class put together an eighteen foot scroll comprised of the work done through the course, as inspired by or adjacent to our work. Palimpsest is seen throughout in the layering of text and images (and textual images). There is no sense of where to begin or end, given the orientation of the text in all directions. The piece is disorienting in its orientation and presentation. The invitation was made to have other members of the class add to the scroll, participation being part of the piece. There could be a circumvention of the typical mode of knowledge production expected of the university subject: the book or the paper does not need to be crammed into a particular format. This piece evades the capture of the university as knowledge object, though might be subsumed under the category of artistic work (if they could in some way monetize its creation). If the collective work of the piece points to a sort of absurdism, it is the absurdism of the institution itself which is the piece’s focus. The expression of frustration permeating the piece does not obscure the evidence that knowledge has been transferred or produced in the process.

The only element that might not be entirely evident in looking at the object is the presence of an indication of a palimpsestic time. This temporality is more evident in the performance of the object’s creation. Conversation goes on around as the object is added to, appended, modified only through addition and not erasure. Layers placed on top of other layers still afford the spectator or viewer an opportunity to examine all the pieces, the bits which form the assemblage of the piece. The symbolic gesture of the piece is one of continuation—of continuing study, of a communal always working towards. In this way, the piece retains both its performativity on the outsider and performance within its community. The point at which addition to the piece ends confers upon the community its move from performers to spectators in the performance being acted on by its residual performativity. Importantly, no one has an ideal vision for this piece, no utopian horizon. The vision is mere existence.

4 May 2018