Archive for February, 2012

Yesterday’s and Today’s Things I’m Thankful For

Yesterday, I got home pretty late (I was at a very interesting meeting that turned out to be a working meeting, but which I didn’t have any expectations for – it’s not a project I initiated – so I wasn’t expecting it to go late), and all I could do when I got home was collapse. But hey.

Monday, February 27

  • My father
  • Home-made burgers when you need them most
  • Inglewood

Tuesday, February 28

  • FedEx’s awesome customer service
  • Finding inspiration in strange places
  • Being able to come home after work

Nine things I’m thankful for

I forgot a few days of things I’m thankful for, so I will add a couple days on to the 21, but I figured I also may as well do them all in one go. I’m going to hopefully pick things from that day.

Friday, February 24 2012

  •  The Cat Came Back
  • Open dress rehearsals of TYA shows
  • Being able to just go home on days when I really, really want to just go home

Saturday, February 25 2012

  • Breakfast with Ryan, my mom, and his mom at our house
  • Playing in art exhibits
  • Actors jumping onto stools

Sunday, February 26 2012

  • Singing along
  • My mom’s knowledge of muffin recipes
  • Being able to mostly stay inside on cold days

Three new things I’m thankful for

Bumming around Facebook today, I saw some links to an awesome TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html

At the end of the talk, Shawn Achor says:

We’ve found that there are ways that you can train your brain to be able to become more positive. In just a two-minute span of time done for 21 days in a row, we can actually rewire your brain, allowing your brain to actually work more optimistically and more successfully. We’ve done these things in research now in every single company that I’ve worked with, getting them to write down three new things that they’re grateful for for 21 days in a row, three new things each day. And at the end of that, their brain starts to retain a pattern of scanning the world, not for the negative, but for the positive first.

Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it. Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters. We find that meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we’ve been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once and allows our brains to focus on the task at hand. And finally, random acts of kindness are conscious acts of kindness. We get people, when they open up their inbox, to write one positive email praising or thanking somebody in their social support network. [Play the video from this part]

I am a big believer in – but not in all cases a big doer of – starting small and just doing some small things to start off with instead of starting everything at once, so I’m going to start with the three new things I’m thankful for each day, because that’s a super easy thing to do. And then let’s see what else I add to it, 21 days into the future. I am going to do this here. It may not always be appropriate to do these publicly, but I will make that decision when I come to it.

I’m really interested to see how these things change over time. Right now they are not very deep, I’m down with that.

Thursday, Feb 23, 2011

Death of the Freak Show – Swallow a Bicycle

Image courtesy Swallow-a-Bicycled Theatre

This High Performance Rodeo, I made it to one non-Lunchbox (Lunchbox is my employer – I’m their marketing manager) rodeo event today! It was Swallow-a-Bicycle’s Death of the Freak Show, which is part of their Site Specific Spectacular series. It was in the EPCOR Centre, and the show was basically split around the building. It consisted of sort of skits throughout the building, and the audience was variably part of the conceit as an audience, and not. This is going to get formal though.

Firstly, some non-formal impressions. Overall, I was entertained, and the story was engaging, even though I felt a bit confrontational with the story to begin with. I find I do feel confrontational with theatre that I am very up close to at first, maybe because I’m physically a part of the story, so if there’s a confrontational situation going on, I feel like I am ‘against’ the characters. And since storytelling normally involves a confrontation, that is basically always a problem. I saw Freak Show last year, the sex-themed one, which was probably not a good choice, it ended up being really awkward. And I feel awkward often enough that it’s not a transgressive theatre experience. This year was not primarily sex-themed which decreased the awkward factor a lot.

On to my formal comments. My main thought about the show was that the fourth wall was still totally there. I think the easiest, broadest comparison to the format of Death of the Freak Show is that it follows the format of a haunted house. And like a haunted house, sometimes you are there, there’s an audience acknowledged in the scene, and sometimes not; you’re able to observe, but like a normal play, there is no audience in the context of the story. This presented a real problem for me because it made it still very much a theatre-audience experience. I never was able to either be myself within the context of the play, or be a real part of the play, or not be really, really aware the theatre is happening. Basically, the fourth wall was really still there, even when actors were directly interacting with you, which happened maybe once. And apparently, when the fourth wall is six inches from you, it is really, really obvious.

I was comparing this experience to performance art, which I think could be a really useful reference point. The nice thing about performance art is you aren’t sandwiched in several realities you have to keep track of. In the site specific spectacular, there’s the reality in which you are you, the reality of the show when you aren’t there, and the reality of the show when you are there as an audience, in which you take on several roles (freak show attendee and medical student, for example). I found that pretty distracting, because instead of making the theatre part of life, it just collapsed the distance. Since in performance art, your role is an artgoer seeing some performance art, you still have all of your personal assumptions to be transgressed, but there’s no cognitive dissonance between the artist, who is playing a specific role but is still themselves, and you, who are essentially doing the same thing. I would be really interested to see site-specific, interactive theatre where it’s more integrated into your actual reality and you don’t have this odd separation from people. Where the roles the actors are playing are more integrated with who they are and where everyone is. I think it would be a lot easier to get lost in it.

And that’s really the key thing I found. I could not get lost in it. I can get lost in performance art, and I can get lost in conventional theatre, and I am sure it would be possible for me to get lost in interactive / site-specific /  theatre that is closer to a story that really blurs the boundaries between life and art and gets you in it, but the experience at the site-specific-spectacular then becomes weirdly confrontational.

Meanwhile