Dear Man on the Street: Sometimes There's a Reason for Skipping

Posted by Lori | Posted in | Posted on 1:40 PM

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That was awesome. So awesome that I danced and hummed my way home. Well half-danced. Okay. It was just a little skip here and there and I let my arms swing.

Pardon my holding off on writing about Portugal so that I can write about tonight.

First, a bit of background.

When I came to Oviedo, I was determined to find a theatre group I could be a part of. That was going to be my way to grow roots here. In fact, I remember setting a Facebook status that went like this, "Just sent messages to 17 theatre groups in Oviedo asking if there was anything I could participate in. Determined."

Well, for all my well-intentioned determination, I ended up with a few "no thanks" e-mails and a lot of no responses.

Then I thought my chance came when I found out that there was a University Theatre group that had a casting. A friend of mine told me that he had negative experiences with the group, but I went anyways. The casting was fun, and I was just thrilled to get to be on a stage again. Afterward, I talked with some of the members and felt even more hopeful. One, two, three months later I get my first response from them: an invitation to participate in a theatre course. The cost: 280 euros. So much for that.

I was frustrated. But an inkling of a thought wandered into my head. "If you see a need...do something about it." But what could I do? I didn't have the resources, didn't even know of anyone else who wanted to do theatre...I had a lot of good excuses. I started entertaining the idea of taking the bus to a random city and doing solo performances just as a creative outlet.

Then I went to London.

And something about being in London gave me a little bit of perspective and even more determination. By the time I got to Portugal, I was decided. I was going to make my own group. Even if it was just me, practicing in a space once a week, I was going to do it. I had to.

A few days after I got back from Portugal, I was sitting in a cafe writing about collective versus individual identity, a topic which was broached in a bar in Portugal as I debated with a 60-something year old man. And I began to think about the beauty within a collaborative, and how you can make something that couldn't have been there before. My foot started tapping on the ground in impatience. I needed a performance collective. Here.

But where would I find the space? Who would do it with me? Could I really just start my own?

The next day I was having lunch with my friend Sergio, who started and runs Partycipa, an activist organization focused on combining creativity and play with social action. They work a lot with kids.

And somehow the subject of performance and street action comes up and I become a bit animated and launch into my idea for an experimental performance group.

He offers me a space. I just have to pick a date.

And now, a week later, I am sitting in my kitchen having just hurriedly eaten some chicken* and I still have a bit of a post-performance afterglow.

Well, to be fair, I didn't perform tonight. But we got started.

There were seven of us tonight. Only two had ever done anything remotely related to theatre.

In a rough combination of English and Spanish, I led us through some warm-ups (samurai, lion/lemon face, shake down), some games (museum, instant protest), some exercises (sound circle, partner mirror, partner and group curve/angle) and then a body relax/energy focus cool down.** I wanted to start on Viewpoints/Flow today, but ran out of time. And that might have been a bit ambitious.

And it was beautiful. Already people were making beautiful moments together. Realizing the potential that they had to create.

It was energizing. It was perfect in its imperfection. It was a start.

And we also have next week.

So I 1/3 skipped, 1/3 walked, and 1/3 danced my way home.

______
*With garlic, lemon, and a balsamic syrup. Good times.
**To Sigur Ros, of course.

London Makes Things Happen

Posted by Lori | Posted in | Posted on 4:18 PM

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As I settle in to write, I am eating the last of my Christmas tree Little Debbie cakes. Don't worry, I have a box of the Valentine ones awaiting me.*

The truth is, I've procrastinated on writing this. Mostly because the thought of condensing my London and Portugal experiences in an entertaining written form felt daunting. And so I just didn't.

But, with a little bit of late night/early morning energy, my arms and back sore from my first day back to climbing for weeks, and that over-sugared-kinda-sick feeling I always get after I eat a Little Debbie cake, I will just tell a few stories, and for tonight, just about London.

As I walked into the house I was staying in**, I was immediately greeted by a lovely smile and a, "Would you like some tea? Go upstairs and you can put your things down and I'll put the tea on." Hours later, watching English sitcoms and eating snacks and chatting, I felt like part of the family. I was laughing. A lot. Plus, I found out that I was now only two degrees of separation away from the queen.

The tea became a habit.*** We passed a few evenings with the fireplace, cozy sofa, late night TV, and Bilbo, the dog, comfortably sitting on my lap. And with the cold and the snow outside, I couldn't really be bothered to move.

Not to say we didn't venture outside in the cold. We were in London. We had to.

We did the typical tourist things. Actually, I'd say we did all the tourist things. You know, the palace, the big clock tower, this other tower, museums, etc. Which, to be honest, never really does much for me. It feels like I'm just checking things off a list. Not to say these things aren't beautiful or interesting or that I wouldn't want to see them, it's just not what makes a trip for me.

So when we went to see the Globe Theatre, I decided to do something different, and put up my slackline for a few, very cold, minutes.

Now, the highlights reel:****

+Climbing inside a castle.

+Diversity! Different types of people! Lots of different languages! And people don't look at you strange if you're not from there!

+Food on the street. Bagels! Fish and chips. Wild mushroom risotto.

+Brick Lane Vintage Market.

+Snow patterns with feet. And playing in that snow with Heather.

+The room in the Tate Modern on the fluxus art movement. It was this tiny little room and most people just walked right through it but a quote on the wall caught my eye and then I spent the next 32 minutes in there reading everything. Completely beautiful.

+Christmas party at Victoria Wood's house where I talked about classical music with high school boys and sang Christmas carols with Andy Serkis.*****

+Johnny's swing/jazz/blues/funk band. And when we [accidentally] went to his show at a Christmas party at a home for mentally handicapped people. We danced anyways.

+Theatre. Lots of theatre. Pantomime, murder-mystery "Rope", The Comedy Store Improv, and "Hairspray." And, I have to mention that for three of these, I have Mr. Edis to thank for getting us in/getting us cheap tickets. Man's got connections.

+Exclaiming, "You gave me a stocking too!" when I found the thing hanging on my door after breakfast and then promptly ran downstairs and gave Mrs. Edis a hug.

+A nordic cafe where I tried gloog. New favorite hot beverage.

...and that was London. More or less, at least.

Sitting in Stansted Airport with about 6 hours to kill, I had a little time to think. I had felt like a part of a family for the last 10 days and it was lovely. I also was able to communicate fully, and even have my personality come across in conversation (!) something I had really missed the months prior.

But London also inspired me.

After the improv show at the Comedy Store, we went out for drinks with some of the players. And I got into a conversation with one of their wives. She asked me about what I wanted to do after university, and I, for the first time in a conversation like this, told her that I was thinking about pursuing the arts in some form.

"Oh you should!" she replied.

"I hope so," I laughed. "I'm just not sure how..."

"Well, have you thought about going to a school of the arts?"

I hadn't.

"There's a lot of one-year programs you can do, and can get a grant for. In fact a friend of mine..."

She went on to tell me of this friend who started out in visual art, then progressed to installations, then performance...all within this one program.

I was intrigued. That conversation, combined with being surrounded by art in so many forms, and the exhibits at the Tate...it has all made me start to think. About new possibilities. And about acting on them. Now.



______
*Thanks, Mom. And Lydia. And Lisa. But I think mostly Lydia. I heard you had to sacrifice these for me. After flaunting your own over Skype, I guess it's the least you could do.
**I was staying with the Edis family. How did I end up there? Heather Johnson made me come to London for Christmas. She met Chris Edis while studying abroad in Italy. Chris lives in London. His family decided they would love to host a random stranger in their home for Christmas. I was the lucky random stranger.
***I never realized that the stereotype of the English always drinking tea was actually true. But I don't think I've ever had so much tea in one week. And I loved it.
****I seriously hate having to do this. But it's the only way to say all I want to say and not be overwhelmed.
*****You know, Gollum in LOTR? He also had an appearance in 13 going on 30...