Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In the beginning... TheatreThursday

It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.
- Joseph Campbell
While in Los Angeles I had a wonderful theatre experience where the ensemble created a show. It began with a concept from the director: a show including various creation myths from around the world.
(our gorgeous postcard... made from a piece of artwork created by a the director's beau. I have an original piece he made just for me, with a quote from the show, hanging in my bathroom. It's such a treasure, to have a piece of art created for me.)

The rehearsal process was incredible. We began every day with warm ups and games, and then we would explore the myths. We played with language and we played with dance and we played with puppets. There would be huge "ah-ha" moments, and we would build on those. The director took the good stuff and molded it.

Games ended up shaping myths. Different actors took the role of a shaman for each myth (we were leading a great mythological hero through the myths to learn a lesson...) and the Puerto Rican myth that I became the shaman for took its form from a game I had brought into rehearsal (Big Booty, possibly the funnest theatre game EVER. But I'm not biased...). The game has a specific rhythm and a call and response to it, that was used in the text.

In the beginning
- the beginning
- the beginning

The beginning of time
- of time
- of time...

Sibu Created the World.

He made deserts
He made jungles

He made jungles
He made mountains

He made mountains
He made valleys....

I wore a huge, brightly colored hoop skirt and a crazy feathered headdress. I used a Caribbean accent. I thought the director was nuts for asking me to do it, it was a HUGE character way out of my comfort zone. She boosted me up and guided me through. I loved it.
Whether dream or myth, in these adventures there is an atmosphere of irresistible fascination about the figure that appears suddenly as a guide
- Joseph Campbell
In all of the myths the ensemble supported the story. I was melting ice in the Norse myth.
(I'm sort of left of middle there, standing but bent... see the ice melting off my arms?)

I got to toss out vomit in the African myth (from behind a large glow in the dark puppet face. This is me, preparing the vomit before a show) There was a bunch of dancing, but verbally the only thing we said was "In the beginning, Bumba, the creator, vomited up the world."

I held aloft P'An-Ku in the Chinese story.

And created a shadow image of a many-limbed god in the Indian myth.

It was an amazing creative process... to work with a group of people that played and worked very hard toward the same goal. We willingly stayed late into the night helping to create the puppets, decorate the set, etc. No one minded staying, and if they couldn't stay, they left with no ill will. We were a team. We also became good friends, instituting "The Friday Night Dance Club" - we'd go out every Friday night to a new club... disco, samba, salsa, swing, rock... we tried it all.We had fun with our makeup!

The show and its creation were storytelling at its best, I think. We took age old stories, age old rites, and played with them... honoring them while looking forward and using them to tell a new tale... a new version of the same story we keep telling for millenia...
It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those other constant fantasies that tie it back.
- Joseph Campbell


thailandchani said...

Wow! Now this was fascinating! :)


another good thing said...

so cool. I really liked the way you though the Caribbean character was too much- but tackled it anyway. we all need our supporters don't we?

kaye said...

that was a fun post to read, what a creative performance.

Amanda said...

This was wondrous! Takes me back to my theatre days which were so full of challenge, rapture and community. Just so beautiful, thank you.

Louise said...

I think the best thing about this had to be working together SO hard and the relationships built. All of my best friends have come as a result or either working hard together or going through some tough experience together.