The BeZine, August 2017, Vol. 3, Issue 11, THEATRE

August 15, 2017

In the introduction to his translation of Beowulf, Seamus Haney comments that “as a work of art it lives in its own continuous present.” For me, theatre (whether in its broadest or narrowest sense) is very much the same. Theatre always encourages us to be in that continuous present. As an over-arching art form it can integrate every other form of human (and even animal) expression. It usually rewards our engagement and disdains our detachment. Even when a show runs for a thousand performances, it can never be quite as canned, as mass produced as many of our other entertainments. Human variability is on display every night.

More broadly, theatre tends to mean any place in which we think there is a scripted or specialized drama occurring. In that sense it often indicates that we’re seeing a performance driven by an agenda and perhaps designed to deceive. We criticize this as hypocrisy. In ancient Greece, a hypocrite was merely an actor, i.e. one who had made a judgment or assessment of a script when preparing to perform that script for others. At that time, it was also thought unworthy for actors to become politicians since actors were skilled at impersonation. We could not know their true selves.

In the context of our art, we would probably judge this as unfair. We’ve all had the experience of “donning the mask” or crafting a persona as a way of freeing ourselves. In expressing the lie, we hope to tell the truth.

I’m delighted to be Guest Editor this month. It coincides with a production that I’m currently in. This is an experimental production staged as immersive experience. We’re telling the story of a family in crisis (the passing of parents, dealing with aging and the end of life, and the break-up of relationships). We tell this story in a residence where small audience groups (a dozen to two dozen at a time) sit in the “living rooms” of the characters. This intimacy connects us with our audience. They do not participate in the sense of interacting with the actors. But, they are side-by-side with us as we make the journey, watching us, crying with us, laughing with us and even eating with us. Detachment is not an option. We join together in the continuous present.

This month’s pieces remind  us of these connections and touch on so many of the stages on which we act.

Priscilla Galasso speaks of her experience with theatre and its broad impact in her life. “Playing the muck of human behavior” as she says.

Charles W. Martin’s poetry talks passionately of life’s stage, reminding us that, yes, detachment is not an option.

Corina Ravenscraft gets to the root of why we should all spend time in “the seeing place.” It’s a broadside worth taking around when it comes time to fund arts in schools and communities.

Michael Watson recounts an early experience where his personal humiliation also reflected larger and deeper ones around him. He shows us how Playback Theatre is another powerful way to connect.

John Anstie recounts the life of his mother. In reading her story, I think on the many roles we are often forced to play and how we adopt certain personas to help us survive.

I feel that basic joy of theatre in Renee Espriu’s contribution. “The hills are alive…” means a little more to me now than it did before.

Jamie Dedes points us to theatrical entertainment with its golden moments and the theatre of life with it’s chaos and absurdity. [And, seriously, check out Fanny Brice’s physical comedy.]

John Sullivan’s four poems this month are, for me, intriguing and searching meditations on the self. They speak to who we are, the personas we have, the masks we wear, the music we sing. And, he’s allowed us to publish an excerpt from his new play, Hey Fritz, Looks Like You Lost It All Again in the Ghosting.

Naomi Baltuck’s discussion of Come From Away focuses right in on an essential aspect of our experiences both in life and in theatre. Specifically, I’m thinking about what it means to literally commune with strangers, whether it’s the characters in Come From Away or the audience who watches it.

Karen Fayeth shows how, no matter what size or shape the spectacle, there is something profound in the simplest of relationships. Say, between a boy and his horse. Because, whether we’re seeing animals at play or a play about animals we are moved.

In bringing together both her visual art and her poetry, Sonja Benskin Mesher has each explain the other. And, yet, each also enlarges the other and perhaps we see our own actions a little differently, too.

Of course, plays and poetics go hand-in-hand. Michael Dickel thoughtfully discusses how one arises from the other and the personal origins of both.

Paul Brookes’ poems read as very modern, but also touching on things quite old, such as shared rituals and the hypocrisy of actors (in the classical sense).

And, finally, there’s a last word from Denise Fletcher. I hope we’ve achieved a kind of success along the lines of what she describes.

Thank you to all who contributed this month and for letting me join the show. I’m having a wonderful time! I look forward to seeing where the story goes from here. And, to the last one who leaves the theatre, please turn on the ghost light.

Richard Lingua
Guest Editor

THEATRE

How to read this issue of THE BEZINE:

  • Click HERE to read the entire magazine by scrolling, or
  • You can read each piece individually by clicking the links below.
  • To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
  • To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.

Photograph: Gargoyles as theatrical masks above a water basin. Mosaic, Roman artwork, 2nd century CE. The piece can be found at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, Palazzo dei Conservatori, first floor, hall of the Horti of Mæcenas. From the Baths of Decius on the Aventine Hill, Rome.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Priscilla Galasso

Charles W. Martin

Corina Ravenscraft

Michael Watson

John Anstie

Renee Espriu

Jamie Dedes

John Sullivan

Naomi Baltuck

Karen Fayeth

Sonja Benskin Mesher

Michael Dickel

Paul Brookes

Denise Fletcher


Except where otherwise noted,
ALL works in The BeZine ©2017 by the author / creator

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A Puppet Dancing in the Dark, a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

800px-CharnelHouse


I saw you walking through the charnel house,
harvesting the bleached and disarticulated bones
of our ancestors to make our rote Sunday soup
Nights, you hung lifeless prayer from rotting teeth

At dawn you regurgitated the remains and our
foremothers spoke sadly of disease and diaspora
I wept to know how you suffered for your fantasies
We are left spineless and bloodless by our history

Crowned with the prickly thorns of your illusions,
you were greatly given to infusions of wine and bread
and daily rosaries traded for the remission of sins,
the very ones you would indulge again …

Now I know these bargains are Faustian and that
a puppet dancing in the dark has many lies to tell

©2014, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photo – a Greek charnel house – by Tom Oats under CC BY SA 3.0


WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Ideals, religious or otherwise, are they a matter of heart or of rote repetition and habit, fatuous fixation or even fetishism? Sometimes there is depth and understanding of history, traditions and traditional wisdom. Sometimes not.  Post your thoughts in prose or poem or a link to your work in response to this prompt in the comment section below. Responses to Wednesday prompts are published the following Tuesday on The Poet by Day.


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“not of war” and other responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

These are the responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, August 8, do not make war. Enjoy and be sure to support and encourage these intrepid poets by liking, commenting and visiting their blogs. Thank you for joining us. Tomorrow another prompt will post and you are invited to come out and play and share your own prose or poetry.  All work shared will be featured in The Poet by Day the following Tuesday.


not of war, it …

not of war, it is peaceful here.

I have heard such dreadful stories

of casualties, these days

and before. senseless.

I would screw my words

if it would help.

I can help this one,

a victim of the

hot and dandy night.

I will show you his photograph.

I took her into the woods, the grass was

too long, though cooler there,

she was too small.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA and Sonja’s Drawings)

.white feathers.

i dream i dream of porcupines.

white feathers dipped in blood.

bloody mess wars,

bodies rotting there. there

are thoughts while stitching that

this could save the world.

a quiet thing. no injuries, the blood

comes small in useful drops.

drops down, meditative sound.

white feathers fall.

porcupines.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA and Sonja’s Drawings)


The Open Shop At War

As robust earth tumbles to an end
Whilst delivering value
I need an extra jumper.

As robust war is inevitable
whilst delivering value
I need a warmer coat.

As robust discussions are futile
whilst you deliver effective service solutions
I need to upgrade my phone.

As robust cease fires are temporary business models that deliver value
I need an extra pair of socks

All is end to end
Earth to end,
War continues.

Sharpen your core business
in a controlled manner,
grow your operations.
People must shop.

Open shops are a sign of peace
whilst buildings fall around them.

Open shops are a sign of calm
when dead people lie in the street.

Open Shops are a sign of order
amidst bomb craters, bullet holes
Open shops let people go on.

2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)


I’m Just About

managing between the barricades.
My kids play between sniper targets.

I fetch the shop through broken
buildings perforated by gunshot,

past cars jammed across streets.

I’m just about managing between regimes.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/20/just-about-managing-families-to-be-2500-a-year-worse-off-by-2020-study?CMP=share_btn_tw

2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)


An Infinity of Stars Woven

Within the landscape of time are
the shadows of war residing
casting doubts of fear
over hope filled integrity

for if I could but ease the pain
& erase the memory of horror
that slices through hearts
once laden with joy
I would

but there will always be those
who seek righteousness loaded
with weapons of destruction
their efforts devoid
of compassion

and soldiers who participate
on the battlefields of wars
whether at home or across seas
will carry scars always

and if it were possible within
me as a wordsmith to pen a poem
of salve and healing
I would

so that children may once again play
on peaceful soil under watchful eyes
of mothers and fathers
who can rest assured
of a tomorrow

filled with the spirit of love
& that fireworks will be celebration
& not the deafening voices
of bombs falling

for my soul cannot rest within me
until the vision of the universe
is the essence of peace shining
like an infinity of stars

the threads of woven fabric
like none that has ever been made
containing naught of the shadows of war
but a humanity of peacemakers
the gardeners sowing
seeds for the
future

© 2017, Renee Espriu (Renee Just Turtle Flight and Haibun,  ART & Haiku)


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