Category: FORCE of Circumstance (FOC)

FORCE of Circumstance (FOC) is a new intergenerational theatre company whose aim is to provide opportunities for cross-generations of professional artists to create highly aesthetic and impactful contemporary performance. The company wishes to tour their work to national and international festivals.

Easter Sunday. A day of celebration. It is the first Sunday following a full moon after the March equinox…symbolic of rebirth and renewal…a celebration of the goddess of Spring…Easter to me is a day of reflection…of embracing what is to come even though in this minute I have no idea what that is.

In Sostrup garden there stands a crucifix...

In Sostrup garden there stands a crucifix…

Sitting in the old beautiful library on the first floor of Sostrup Castle I have been researching, preparing for an intense new creative development of EVE2, a play that had a brief season called EVE in 2012 in the delicious Sue Benner Theatre Metro Arts downtown Brisbane. EVE had a beautiful creative team with Leah Mercer in her usual role of director/devisor, Anna Molnar as Producer, Gabby Castle as Stage Manager (with Johnny Castle as ASM), Amy Ingram as Executive Producer and Stace Callaghan playing the role of Oscar, the storyteller, matched by Moshlo Shaw who played the musician/husband. Aaron Barton created a magical set and his partner Gen Trace designed the lighting while Travis Ash was sound designer. Daniel Evans was co-devisor as well as co-ordinator of the Independent Program at Metro Arts. Because of force of circumstance, the untimely death of Moshlo, we decided to return to Eve and do it differently, wedding some of the character of the Man in the third show of The Belonging Trilogy, “He Dreamed a Train” with Eve’s voice. This idea was an offer from Travis and when he suggested this I knew it was the right direction. Travis will now devise and play Musician/Storyteller/Man and Benjamin Knapton will direct/co-devise this new version with Freddy Komp and Nathan Sibthorpe creating visual magic. We have a decent task ahead of us these next ten days.

The library at Sostrup where I am working

The library at Sostrup where I am working

Being here, half way round the world in a town where I know one person apart from my partner Bill, provides an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be in relationship with the world. What it means to connect to others. What it means to live deeply. I see this residency as a pilgrimage of sorts.

So today my research focuses on what pilgrimages are for…I believe every artist is required to take a pilgrimage, not to achieve anything overtly, but simply to find the time to discover what they already know. A time to step out of my ordinary life in Brisbane, full of people and artists and homes and studios and rehearsals and plays and meetings and walks and galleries and…and…and…and to STOP. What is it that I long for? And if I understand this, then I will understand what it is that EVE2 longs for: in the original script she writes that she longs to be loved. But it is far more than that. She longs to belong though she does not express it in those terms. Yet.

My Muse accompanies...

My Muse accompanies…

David Whyte, the poet who writes about the soul’s journey talks about our ” longing to belong” and I think that this pilgrimage is the perfect occasion to discover what my longing is…I know I have a longing for story in order to belong. But is it more than that?

an image of EVE...always longing to belong

an image of EVE…always longing to belong

In my search, I came across this poem that sat well with me as I read it:

The Spirit of Longing
Tell me, men of learning, what is longing made from?
What cloth was put in it that it does not wear out with me?
Gold wears out, silver wears out, velvet wears out, silk wears out
Every ample garment wears out–yet longing does not wear out.
Great longing. Cruel longing is breaking my heart everyday
When I sleep most sound at night longing comes and wakes me

Excerpt from old Cymric (Welsh) poem
Cited in The Mist Filled Path by Frank MacEowen

If we see longing as a good thing, as a way of guiding us towards what is real, what is true, what is our calling, then I can hold it closer. And if I take on board what Phil Cousineau (http://www.philcousineau.net/_i_the_art_of_pilgrimage__the_seeker_s_guide_to_making_travel_sacred__i__18018.htm) suggests:

“The call to the sacred journey your secret heart longs for won’t come by expectation, will not arrive in a logical way. If you imagine that something is trying to call to you, try to practice stillness for a few minutes each day. Be still and quiet and you may be surprised what you start to hear”.

If I take this on board I listen, slow down. I reach for my phone less. I turn off my computer. I hear more. I change my posture: I am alert. Awake. Present. My two feet are planted on the ground. And I walk. For all creative thoughts can come from that step after step.

Sometimes its hard to step forward

Sometimes its hard to step forward

Phil Cousineau also quotes Bruce Chatwin. When I first arrived in Brisbane I worked on a piece of theatre directed by Doug Leonard and our primary texts were Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines and Eve Langley’s Pea Pickers…and here I am 26 years later still working through this material. Doug had a way of selecting the most potent texts and bringing them to life.

So Chatwin is quoted in Cousineau’s book:
“I have a vision of the Songlines stretching across the continents and the ages; that wherever men have trodden they have left a trail of song (of which we may, now and then, catch an echo); and that these trails much reach back, in time and space, to an isolated pocket in the African Savannah, where the First Man opening his mouth in defiance of the terrors that surrounded him, shouted the opening stanza of the World Song “I AM”.

I AM

I AM

“I AM LONGING TO BELONG” is the cry for millions of people displaced, lost, or superficially surfing this thing called life. It’s as though many of us are caught up in a net not of our own making. We follow others rather than lead ourselves. And we do not know what our personal mythology is…that is what a pilgrimage can awaken…there is time to reflect on the stories, poems, journeys, relationships, dreams that make up our lives.

As I walk down the stairs in my house back in Brisbane I have written above the doorway in black “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin now. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”. We all know Goethe’s quote. We see it on people’s fridges, magnets, shop windows, gyms, bookshops. We see it, but do we take action? Do we begin what we dream? Some of us do and others of us put it off till it’s the right time, or the right place…I sit somewhere in between. I sometimes take action and other times I wait. I wait. I wait until I cannot wait anymore. I step out.

So I have stepped out. I am longing to belong in this new play, working title EVE2.

So I have stepped out. I am reminded of Joseph Campbell’s “mythological symbols touch and exhilarate centres of life beyond the reach of the vocabularies of reason and coercion” (cited in The Mythic Path” (KIndle edition). I am here to rewrite my personal myth: to ‘weave the raw materials of daily experience into a coherent story” (The Mythic Path). To create and re-create the map of belonging.

I am quoting David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner:

“A personal myth is a constellation of beliefs, feelings, images, and rules–operating largely outside of conscious awareness–that interprets sensations, constructs new explanations, and directs behaviour…your personal mythology is a lens that gives meaning to every situation you meet and determines what you will do in it. Personal myths speak to the broad concerns of identity (who am I?), (where am I going?), and purpose (why am I going there?)”.

Margi talks at Metro Arts Launch

Metro Arts Launch and Fundraiser, Gallery Space, Metro Arts downtown Brisbane Australia

Metro Arts Launch and Fundraiser, Gallery Space, Metro Arts downtown Brisbane Australia

It was a great night. Art, artists, conversations, drinks, nibbles by Verve Restaurant, our local downstairs and of course some speeches. Here is mine, representing the artists in the building…this is a slightly extended talk, I delivered a shorter one on the night:

“RULE 17
OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS.
OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS
OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS” (Will Strunk)…

But Mr. Strunk (of The Elements of Style fame) cut out so many words that he “often seemed in the position of having shortchanged himself—a man left with nothing more to say yet with time to fill…he got out of this predicament by a simple trick: he uttered every sentence three times… He leaned forward over his desk and, in a husky, conspiratorial voice, said “Rule Seventeen. Omit needless words! Omit needless words! Omit needless words!” (Strunk, White, Kalman, 2007, X1V)

So I shall follow suit.
Metro arts
Metro arts
Metro arts
The old broad
The old broad
The old broad…

I came to Metro Arts one warm autumn day in May of 2002. I had just been to see the divine Barb Lowing in her solo Mary Magdalene by Alison Cotes at the great Cathedral in town. I sat next to Sue and conversation regarding studio space grew. Within a month I was in studio 3.7 with my friend visual artist Bev Jensen. We painted (no, she painted I coached from the side) it pink and yellow. We furnished it with odds and sods, and our Metro Arts journey of now 13 years, began. We cooked scones in the microwave, we entertained in the large hallway:

Sometimes we spill out of our studio into the Great Hall on Third Floor and away we go, with artists watching as they go back and forth to the kitchen

Sometimes we spill out of our studio into the Great Hall on Third Floor and away we go, with artists watching as they go back and forth to the kitchen

We performed ridiculous experimental pieces that we thought were fabulous at the time but looking back had a weirdness that has no name.

I have lived in six different studios throughout the building always believing that the latest one was ‘it’. I have had an open door policy: people come and go, we drink tea, sometimes champagne. All of these years have been rich. Rich with friendships, with artmaking.

Metro Arts has been my second home. Since the 90’s I have watched four CEO’s come, place their print on the building, growing it into something that no other city in Australia has: a true home for independent artists.

In 2003-4 the first incubator began on the first floor. Liz Burcham was imported from down south to teach us how to become vibrant business women/men as well as artists. It was a fabulous program. By then I was on the first floor in the huge corner office. The incubators would come to visit my studio, we would lay out collage material and away we would go, growing our business ideas through art making:

Where our Incubators would create collages in order to grow our businesses

Where our Incubators would create collages in order to grow our businesses

Lots of things have happened at Metro Arts: lots of fabulously exciting things. All of my own works have been birthed here, most importantly The Belonging Trilogy: EVE, HOME and He Dreamed a Train. Metro has supported my works in multiple ways, through space, funding, opportunities, love:

My most recent studio where we meet, drink tea and discuss how to live a sustainable and always creative life.

My most recent studio where we meet, drink tea and discuss how to live a sustainable and always creative life.

This year I have been company in residence. Because of metro I have been able to give free counselling and coaching to the arts community. I have lost track of how many people have walked through the doors on the third floor, at all hours and all days of the week. We sit, have a cup of tea and talk about ways of being in an industry that does not make it easy.

All of us have walked up the stairs.
All of us have walked up the stairs.
Puffing at first.
Puffing at first.

But the more we visit the old broad, the easier it gets.
WE need metro more than metro needs us.
We need metro more than metro needs us.
We need a home.
We need to know that there is a place in our town that opens her arms for the artist in need, the artist who has much to say and no place to say it.
We need her more than she needs us.

Lets be generous tonight.
Lets dip into our pockets and demonstrate how essential The Old Broad is to us. How it has grown our work, how it has supported and nurtured our soul.

There is an office, originally on the first floor, then when times got hard, moved to the second floor. Lets not have it move to the third floor. It would cramp my style.
That office is filled with dedicated, deliciously alive and constantly working individuals who care. Who want this place to thrive. Who are always up for a laugh. Who always make me smile.

Cheers to the office
Cheers to the office
Cheers to the office

And cheers to you.
$100.00 per step. Share the step if need be. But buy you a step. So that Metro Arts can stay in step with her community who loves and adores her.

Her community who loves and adores her.
Her community who loves and adores her.

This is a bit of fun, and may even be something that can keep us in our happy places...I particularly like benefiting from flower power...i always want flowers around me...7 scientifically-backed tips to create a happier home...a cut and paste from Over 60 Newsletter...thanks so much!

"I wear a green carnation on my lapel and a knife blade on my tongue" says Oscar Wilde in our show Eve, which opens this week...well Opening Night is on Friday...and I cannot wait to share this little gem, along with He Dreamed a Train...

Monday, Jun 19 2017 Over60
Science has given us so much information that improves our lives – but did you know this goes as far as how to design, decorate and live in our homes? From the furnishing shapes that give humans the most peace of mind, to the colours that most easily enable happiness, follow these verified tips on how to make your home a happier place to be.

1. Furnish with round objects
Research by Harvard Medical School shows that the type of contour an object possesses – whether that be sharp, angled or curved – has a critical influence on people’s attitude toward that object. The study shows that humans tend to have an affection for curves, as they convey warmth, while sharp elements (e.g. a V-shaped corner) can convey a threat.

Tip: Where possible, furnish with round items such as a circular coffee or dining table.

2. Display sentimental photos
According to a study at North Dakota State University, indulging in nostalgic feelings is good for our psychological wellbeing. “Our research suggests that nostalgia is largely psychologically positive,” says Professor Clay Routledge. “Participants who were the most prone to nostalgic thinking also had the highest scores in happiness and self-esteem.”

Tip: Place some framed sentimental photos on your bedside table, or dedicate an entire wall to a picture collage.

3. Paint a wall green or yellow
A study from Vrije University in Amsterdam found that people mostly associate yellow or green with positive experiences, and in particular, happiness. “In accordance with the findings, the popularity of green increased with age. While the so-called ‘anti-colours’ – white and black – were consistently disliked,” the study’s authors reported.

Tip: Consider painting a single feature wall in these colours to create happy vibes in your home.

4. Make your bed every day
Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestselling book The Happiness Project explains that making the bed was “the number one most impactful change that people brought up over and over” as she researched her book on inspiring happiness. “Making your bed is a step that’s quick and easy, yet makes a big difference,” she says. “Everything looks neater. It’s easier to find your shoes. Your bedroom is a more peaceful environment. For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm.”

Tip: Make a daily habit of prioritising this minor task so it’s the first thing you do when you start your day.

5. Personalise your work space
An experiment carried out by researchers Craig Knight and S. Alexander Haslam of the University of Exeter found that office workers were up to 32 per cent more productive when given control of how to arrange and decorate their work space. In addition, the presence of living plants in a work space is thought to have the additional benefit of purifying the air, thereby helping workers feel happier and healthier.

Tip: If you have a work space at home, decorate it with personal mementos that make you genuinely happy. Add pot plants to the area too.

6. Benefit from flower power
A team of researchers from Rutgers University explored the link between flowers and life satisfaction in a 10-month study of participants’ emotional responses to flowers. “Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy,” said lead researcher, Dr Haviland-Jones. “Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional wellbeing.”

Furthermore, the study showed that the presence of flowers led to increased contact with family and friends, and participants reported feeling less depressed and anxious.

Tip: Give some fresh blooms pride of place in your home, such as on a coffee table or mantelpiece.

7. Furry friends with benefits
Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners. “People experienced greater social needs fulfilment from their dog, they were less depressed, less lonely, had greater self-esteem, were more happy, and tended to experience less perceived stress”, the report says.

Tip: Pets come in all shapes and sizes, so consider what type of pet may be right for your home.

Written by Pauline Morrissey.
...

View on Facebook

Sunday dreaming... day off! Eve and He Dreamed a Train enter final week of rehearsal... we are bubbling over with excitement with @AaronBarton finalising Eve's world and @GeoffSquires lighting magical atmospheres ... ...

View on Facebook

We are now finishing our second week of rehearsal of our double bill...this time Eve is being re-created under the exacting eyes of Leah Mercer who arrived from Perth yesterday. Here is MBA improvising at Metro Arts in 2012, our first rendition of this little gem. Photo by Brooke Everingham ...

View on Facebook

ready for collage at PlayPen

ready for collage at PlayPen

As I look back at passing year, I am aware that I have changed. I have spent the last 12 months doing the things that are important to me: writing about belonging, re-mounting and dreaming on “HOME” (Queensland Theatre Company) one of our Belonging Trilogy plays, performing for Brisbane Festival in ‘Prize Fighter” (La Boite), a play about a child soldier from Democratic Republic of Congo, playing with the contemporary dance company Phluxus2 and co-creating The Paratrooper Project (The Judith Wright Centre) which focused on war and home life. One of my directing gigs was at Queensland Academies of Creative Industries (QACI) where I worked with 22 fifteen year olds, and along with my colleagues Ben Knapton, Simon Tate, Stephen Matthais and Travis Ash, created a version of the Belonging Trilogy which we called “Coming Home”. You can read about our experiences in older posts.

All of these projects began with small beginnings: some grew while sharing a coffee, some while engaging in creative developments for something entirely different. Other projects grew out of emails, meetings and some just happened. All with small beginnings.

I am listening to ABC Jazz and sipping tea in a favourite cup with the inscription that seems so apt: “Big things often have small beginnings”.

cup of Really Russian Caravan, pen and diary

Presently we are negotiating big things from another small beginning and this has created conflict within. A question always comes into my consciousness whenever I am about to embark on a big project:
“Why do this?” and “What is it about creating art that nourishes and nurtures the soul?” So I am pondering these questions today, particularly the first one.

My first port of call is the collage table.

preparing for collaging

preparing for collaging

I collect magazines and spread them around me, hold on to a glue stick, listen to good classical music (some of you may prefer jazz or contemporary). My dogs sit at my feet, Russian Caravan Tea in my cup, pastels and cartridge paper in front of me. I am ready to begin.

COLLAGE PROCESS:

Today I am using the back of Frankie calendar as the base on which to build a collection of images that will help me understand what/why I am embarking on this new project. I trust this process infinitely, for there is always something that surprises me, that awakens me, that alerts me to reasons why. It is a direct route to meaning making.

I begin to “rip and stick” and sometimes use scissors to cut out images: one that I cut out is a woman, a painted woman, looking into the collage rather than out of the images. She leans on a painted horizon. The other image I cut out is a chair, wrapped in fabric, like a rag rug but it is a rag chair, a beautiful chair. I have stuck it on a very textured walls and floor. I am embracing enormous amounts of texture and bright colours as I build the layers.

My confusion begins to clarify as I place an image of a pair of scissors, balancing on a rock, and holding in the air a crane in the area of the collage where a brain could be. It took time to understand the “scissor/rock/paper” representation that’s going on inside my own head. Paper is winning, that is good. Paper is beautiful. That is good.

scissor paper rock

scissor paper rock

The Crane is known as a symbol of peace, of longevity (they live for 1000 years in the legends). A symbol of hope.

The Legend of the Crane (cut and pasted from (out of the darkness community walks http://www.sos-walk.org/sos/crane.htm

Throughout history, birds have been viewed as animals of special value and have been ladened with meanings often derived from legends and stories that have survived over many generations. The Crane may conceivably be the oldest bird on earth; there is fossil proof that they existed over 60 million years ago. Greek and Roman myth tended to portray the dance of cranes as a love of joy and a celebration of life. The crane was usually considered to be a bird of Apollo, the sun god, who heralded in Spring and light. Throughout all of Asia, the crane has been a symbol of happiness and eternal youth. In Japanese, Chinese, and Korean tradition, cranes stand for good fortune and longevity because of its fabled life span of a thousand years. …The Japanese refer to the crane as “the bird of happiness;” the Chinese as “heavenly crane” believing they were symbols of wisdom. The powerful wings of the crane were believed to be able to convey souls up to paradise and to carry people to higher levels of spiritual enlightenment. Over time, the crane has also evolved as a favorite subject of the tradition of paper folding – origami. It is said that a thousand folded cranes, one for each year of its life, makes a wish come true.

Shortly after the end of World War II, the folded origami cranes also came to symbolize a hope for peace through Sadako Sasaki and her unforgettable story of perseverance. Diagnosed with leukemia after being exposed to radiation after the bombing of Hiroshima, Sadako became determined to fold 1,000 cranes in hopes of recovering good health, happiness, and a world of eternal peace. Although she completed 644 before she died, her classmates folded the remaining 356 to honor her. A statue was raised in the Hiroshima Peace Park to commemorate her strong spirit.

Today this practice of folding 1,000 cranes represents a form of healing and hope during challenging times. After the events of September 11, as a gesture of support and healing, thousands of cranes were folded and linked together in chains and sent to fire and police stations, museums, and churches throughout New York City.

Traditionally, flocks of 1,000 cranes are offered at shrines or temples with prayer, based on the belief that the effort to fold such a large number will surely be rewarded. Chains are often given to someone suffering from illness, as a prayer for their recovery, as a wish for happiness, and as an expression of sympathy and peace. A prayer often spoken over time by mothers seeking the protection of cranes has been:

“O flock of heavenly cranes
cover my child with your wings.”

With these values floating throughout the collage, that of hope, peace, happiness and eternal youth, I am feeling as though good things are at hand. One thing I take note of though is an awareness that the scissors are in balance. If they stay in balance all is well. If not, the crane comes tumbling, could even be cut in two, could fly away and turn into Icarus. So much to think about. So much to write about.

But I will leave it there: it is enough to ponder the question “Why do it?” and see how these values influence my answer. The project has happiness and peace surrounding it. It is also capable of being threatened. Someone just needs to roll that rock and it can come tumbling down. Or can it?

I look more deeply and find other stories that could provide other outcomes. For another time.

laughter is the best medicine

laughter is the best medicine

Don’t forget the humour.
Never forget the laughter.
Always tell the joke
again and again and again.

This is a bit of fun, and may even be something that can keep us in our happy places...I particularly like benefiting from flower power...i always want flowers around me...7 scientifically-backed tips to create a happier home...a cut and paste from Over 60 Newsletter...thanks so much!

"I wear a green carnation on my lapel and a knife blade on my tongue" says Oscar Wilde in our show Eve, which opens this week...well Opening Night is on Friday...and I cannot wait to share this little gem, along with He Dreamed a Train...

Monday, Jun 19 2017 Over60
Science has given us so much information that improves our lives – but did you know this goes as far as how to design, decorate and live in our homes? From the furnishing shapes that give humans the most peace of mind, to the colours that most easily enable happiness, follow these verified tips on how to make your home a happier place to be.

1. Furnish with round objects
Research by Harvard Medical School shows that the type of contour an object possesses – whether that be sharp, angled or curved – has a critical influence on people’s attitude toward that object. The study shows that humans tend to have an affection for curves, as they convey warmth, while sharp elements (e.g. a V-shaped corner) can convey a threat.

Tip: Where possible, furnish with round items such as a circular coffee or dining table.

2. Display sentimental photos
According to a study at North Dakota State University, indulging in nostalgic feelings is good for our psychological wellbeing. “Our research suggests that nostalgia is largely psychologically positive,” says Professor Clay Routledge. “Participants who were the most prone to nostalgic thinking also had the highest scores in happiness and self-esteem.”

Tip: Place some framed sentimental photos on your bedside table, or dedicate an entire wall to a picture collage.

3. Paint a wall green or yellow
A study from Vrije University in Amsterdam found that people mostly associate yellow or green with positive experiences, and in particular, happiness. “In accordance with the findings, the popularity of green increased with age. While the so-called ‘anti-colours’ – white and black – were consistently disliked,” the study’s authors reported.

Tip: Consider painting a single feature wall in these colours to create happy vibes in your home.

4. Make your bed every day
Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestselling book The Happiness Project explains that making the bed was “the number one most impactful change that people brought up over and over” as she researched her book on inspiring happiness. “Making your bed is a step that’s quick and easy, yet makes a big difference,” she says. “Everything looks neater. It’s easier to find your shoes. Your bedroom is a more peaceful environment. For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm.”

Tip: Make a daily habit of prioritising this minor task so it’s the first thing you do when you start your day.

5. Personalise your work space
An experiment carried out by researchers Craig Knight and S. Alexander Haslam of the University of Exeter found that office workers were up to 32 per cent more productive when given control of how to arrange and decorate their work space. In addition, the presence of living plants in a work space is thought to have the additional benefit of purifying the air, thereby helping workers feel happier and healthier.

Tip: If you have a work space at home, decorate it with personal mementos that make you genuinely happy. Add pot plants to the area too.

6. Benefit from flower power
A team of researchers from Rutgers University explored the link between flowers and life satisfaction in a 10-month study of participants’ emotional responses to flowers. “Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy,” said lead researcher, Dr Haviland-Jones. “Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional wellbeing.”

Furthermore, the study showed that the presence of flowers led to increased contact with family and friends, and participants reported feeling less depressed and anxious.

Tip: Give some fresh blooms pride of place in your home, such as on a coffee table or mantelpiece.

7. Furry friends with benefits
Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners. “People experienced greater social needs fulfilment from their dog, they were less depressed, less lonely, had greater self-esteem, were more happy, and tended to experience less perceived stress”, the report says.

Tip: Pets come in all shapes and sizes, so consider what type of pet may be right for your home.

Written by Pauline Morrissey.
...

View on Facebook

Sunday dreaming... day off! Eve and He Dreamed a Train enter final week of rehearsal... we are bubbling over with excitement with @AaronBarton finalising Eve's world and @GeoffSquires lighting magical atmospheres ... ...

View on Facebook

We are now finishing our second week of rehearsal of our double bill...this time Eve is being re-created under the exacting eyes of Leah Mercer who arrived from Perth yesterday. Here is MBA improvising at Metro Arts in 2012, our first rendition of this little gem. Photo by Brooke Everingham ...

View on Facebook

“COMING HOME”

HOME…photo by Bev Jensen

HOME…photo by Bev Jensen

“Coming Home”, a performance that was described as beautiful, heart aching, whimsical and lighthearted has come to an end. Simon Tate, the head drama teacher at Queensland Academies of Creative Industries, where we were artists in residence, described it like this in his facebook post:

I’m just going to come out and say it – all my theatre friends should come and see Coming Home. I just love it so much I want to share it with people that will appreciate the storytelling, the simplicity and the empowerment of 21 young artists who are completely present – because they want to be, rather than because they are trying to prove something, or are suffering to be intense, or any other pretense. They just want to tell the stories they now own as a means of writing their own. Well played Margi Brown Ash – you can now fart, drop the mic and walk off stage to thunderous applause.

Simon Tate, FACEBOOK POST.

I love the irreverence that we all embraced while creating this show: we broke what rules we could break safely, we swore like troopers (just joking, Education Department), laughed, cried, yelled, danced and meditated. We reflected, we dreamed, we evoked the Muse of Theatre to come and visit us, we met and engaged with our Entelechy. Dr. Jean Houston, my mentor from Ashland, Oregon, teaches about how our entelechy can enrich our process: just as the oak tree is the acorn’s entelechy, our entelechy can be evoked to help us achieve our potential and possibility.

Six weeks of working in class time and two or three afternoons a week, we created a collage of texts from my The Belonging Trilogy, including Eve, HOME and He Dreamed a Train.

We adapted the performance so that 22 beautifully passionate 15 year olds could work the stage. They moved as one, stepping into role and stepping out again. We began with a list of scenes that the young folk really liked: we read the scripts and chose the scenes that resonated with us. The selected scenes did not dramaturgically belong next to each other, but our team (including Ben Knapton and Travis Ash) had faith that there was an underlining connector, all we had to do was wait for it to present itself. It took five weeks to find the path to re-map the core of all three plays. The core of the play, or the spine of the play finally became:

“How do we deal with, or how do we re-story long term grief and loss so that we can move on in our lives?”

Depressing theme for teenagers? Not in the least. The joyful exuberance that the young folk brought to the stage ensured that we did not tip into melancholy. The intense dramatics of the theme of death and dying also matched the drama that sat within these potent beautiful young actors.

I learn so much from young actors: they reminded me why I have stayed in the theatre profession for over 40 years. They reminded me of the importance of schools such as ‪Queensland Academy of Creative Industries (QACI), a performing arts senior high school that embraces creativity and accomplishment. They reminded me of the power of relationship. The power of story.

So after four performances, the show has closed. But there is big take-away. At the same time as we rehearsed the chosen scenes, we also learned processes to keep the actor safe and healthy. Why? Because acting is the only art form whereby the artists’ instrument is their body and their emotions. The brain does not distinguish between make believe and reality. Sadness is sadness. Anger is anger. The actor has to learn ways of de-roling after a show so that they can return to their world clear and lively, not weighed down the psychology of the character or the limitations of the world of the play.

How do we stay safe as performers? One way is embracing Relational Impulse Training (RIT). I devised the training a few years ago now (there is an article about RIT on this website www.4change.com.au ). This postmodern training is based on collaborative therapy principles, focusing on relationships, the space between, the multiplicity of selves and the multiplicity of stories. This is where the magic lies. We are relational beings and as such are altered by what is happening between and among each other. There is never just one story. There are multiple interpretations of everything that happens. For the young person to gain an understanding that their story is not necessarily THE truth, just A truth, will stand them in good stead.

The acting training also includes frameworks such as The Four Agreements, by Miguel Ruiz, four ways of being in the world:

THE FOUR AGREEMENTS BY MIGUEL RUIZ, ADAPTED FOR QACI YEAR 10:

1. Don’t take things personally: there are always multiple perspectives and multiple ways of interpreting.

2. Do not assume anything: stay curious, ask questions, stay alive to other interpretations outside of your own.

3. Use impeccable language: for us that meant we needed to be positive and affirmative when talking about others, always with the thought that they could overhear what we are saying and not get upset.

4. Always do our best and keep connected to the space between me and my fellow actor.

Simple principles that make a whole lot of sense… the actors leave the whole theatre making process with a deep understanding of self and others and how they fit into the scheme of things:

1. They leave with a knowledge of ritual and its importance within the creative cycle. They understand the creative cycle, the ebbs and flows, the ‘I am drowning/I am waving’ syndrome…one second it feels like you are drowning and the next second it feels like you are rejoicing, the highs and lows of the creative process…

2. They leave with a very fine experience of what it is to be an ensemble. That it is not all sweetness and light. That there are difficult times, difficult relationships, difficult decisions to be made. But, when the young actor looks into the eyes of her/his fellow ensemble member, they see themselves:

“I am only as strong as the smallest and frailest within the ensemble, so it is my responsibility, my duty to help my fellow actors achieve their potential”.

Only then will my ensemble thrive.

Our FORCE OF CIRCUMSTANCE team is hoping that this experience is the basis of a prototype which could be taken into senior schools as an Artist in Residence model, where the young folk choose the passages from The Belonging Trilogy and create a new story about grief, loss, re-dreaming their own stories and at the same time recognising their own resilience, joy, healing and friendship without the judgement that we so often witness in our culture.

The ensemble did thrive. They understood connectedness. They understood what it was like when they stepped out on their front foot, rather than leaning back waiting for things to happen. They understood the need to listen, to remain curious and to leave judgement at the door. To avoid what I label “car park gossip”, the talking about someone behind their back…a most damaging cultural practice that needs to be modified.

Here are some of the things that the ensemble wrote in “My Book of Myths” that they presented to me on our last evening together. It is a beautiful, handmade book and I will treasure it for a long time:

Photo of Book of Myths
My Book of Myths, created by Year 10 QACI

I have read my new, highly valued Book of Myths, beautiful personal stories about transformation, re-generation, learning and love and connection.

Here are just some extracts, the ones that will make sense in isolation.

Things our ensemble learned from the Coming Home experience. Sometimes I have changed pronouns so that it reads more easily:

1. “To believe in myself”
2. “To be generous with our performance”
3. “To be generous with our voice”
4. “We have so much potential, we are so much bigger than we thought we were, both on and off the stage”
5. “This experience has completely altered my existence and my views on everything”
6. Our ensemble is “stuck together with superglue, spirit and brilliance”.
7. “I made a promise to myself…that I would put all of my ideas forward so that I could grow as a theatre practitioner, and as a person, an individual”
8. “…permission to be alive and real in this space”
9. “Accepting constant change means it is far more difficult to hold onto the things that hold us back”
10. “I am a multi-faceted individual with tens of thousands of stories to tell”
11. “This is where I belong”
12. “The arrows are not what I thought they were, they are really seeds growing out of me”
13. “It was such a beautiful experience seeing everyone become a big and happy family and be able to show people our passion towards art”
14. “Car park gossip is damaging”

So another show closes, but the resonances and reflections continue on and on, because

Aren’t we are work in progress?
Aren’t we every story we’ve ever heard
Every place and time we’ve ever been
Every person we’ve ever met
Every myth we’ve ever dreamed

Our lives, my darlings, are huge
Who shall tell the stories
What stories shall we tell

(HOME, 2015).

This is a bit of fun, and may even be something that can keep us in our happy places...I particularly like benefiting from flower power...i always want flowers around me...7 scientifically-backed tips to create a happier home...a cut and paste from Over 60 Newsletter...thanks so much!

"I wear a green carnation on my lapel and a knife blade on my tongue" says Oscar Wilde in our show Eve, which opens this week...well Opening Night is on Friday...and I cannot wait to share this little gem, along with He Dreamed a Train...

Monday, Jun 19 2017 Over60
Science has given us so much information that improves our lives – but did you know this goes as far as how to design, decorate and live in our homes? From the furnishing shapes that give humans the most peace of mind, to the colours that most easily enable happiness, follow these verified tips on how to make your home a happier place to be.

1. Furnish with round objects
Research by Harvard Medical School shows that the type of contour an object possesses – whether that be sharp, angled or curved – has a critical influence on people’s attitude toward that object. The study shows that humans tend to have an affection for curves, as they convey warmth, while sharp elements (e.g. a V-shaped corner) can convey a threat.

Tip: Where possible, furnish with round items such as a circular coffee or dining table.

2. Display sentimental photos
According to a study at North Dakota State University, indulging in nostalgic feelings is good for our psychological wellbeing. “Our research suggests that nostalgia is largely psychologically positive,” says Professor Clay Routledge. “Participants who were the most prone to nostalgic thinking also had the highest scores in happiness and self-esteem.”

Tip: Place some framed sentimental photos on your bedside table, or dedicate an entire wall to a picture collage.

3. Paint a wall green or yellow
A study from Vrije University in Amsterdam found that people mostly associate yellow or green with positive experiences, and in particular, happiness. “In accordance with the findings, the popularity of green increased with age. While the so-called ‘anti-colours’ – white and black – were consistently disliked,” the study’s authors reported.

Tip: Consider painting a single feature wall in these colours to create happy vibes in your home.

4. Make your bed every day
Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestselling book The Happiness Project explains that making the bed was “the number one most impactful change that people brought up over and over” as she researched her book on inspiring happiness. “Making your bed is a step that’s quick and easy, yet makes a big difference,” she says. “Everything looks neater. It’s easier to find your shoes. Your bedroom is a more peaceful environment. For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm.”

Tip: Make a daily habit of prioritising this minor task so it’s the first thing you do when you start your day.

5. Personalise your work space
An experiment carried out by researchers Craig Knight and S. Alexander Haslam of the University of Exeter found that office workers were up to 32 per cent more productive when given control of how to arrange and decorate their work space. In addition, the presence of living plants in a work space is thought to have the additional benefit of purifying the air, thereby helping workers feel happier and healthier.

Tip: If you have a work space at home, decorate it with personal mementos that make you genuinely happy. Add pot plants to the area too.

6. Benefit from flower power
A team of researchers from Rutgers University explored the link between flowers and life satisfaction in a 10-month study of participants’ emotional responses to flowers. “Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy,” said lead researcher, Dr Haviland-Jones. “Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional wellbeing.”

Furthermore, the study showed that the presence of flowers led to increased contact with family and friends, and participants reported feeling less depressed and anxious.

Tip: Give some fresh blooms pride of place in your home, such as on a coffee table or mantelpiece.

7. Furry friends with benefits
Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners. “People experienced greater social needs fulfilment from their dog, they were less depressed, less lonely, had greater self-esteem, were more happy, and tended to experience less perceived stress”, the report says.

Tip: Pets come in all shapes and sizes, so consider what type of pet may be right for your home.

Written by Pauline Morrissey.
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Sunday dreaming... day off! Eve and He Dreamed a Train enter final week of rehearsal... we are bubbling over with excitement with @AaronBarton finalising Eve's world and @GeoffSquires lighting magical atmospheres ... ...

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We are now finishing our second week of rehearsal of our double bill...this time Eve is being re-created under the exacting eyes of Leah Mercer who arrived from Perth yesterday. Here is MBA improvising at Metro Arts in 2012, our first rendition of this little gem. Photo by Brooke Everingham ...

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QACI students and MBA

I have had a very satisfying 5 weeks working with Year 10’s at Queensland Academies of Creative Industries (QACI), located at Kelvin Grove next to Queensland University of Technology (QUT). I was invited to work with Simon Tate and Stephen Matthais’ classes and create a scripted performance piece. I chose The Belonging Trilogy, a compilation of the three shows that I have written over the last five years: HOME, Eve and He Dreamed a Train. They have all had individual seasons at different theatres around Brisbane (La Boite, Queensland Theatre Company, Metro Arts, Brisbane Powerhouse and also The Blue Room (Perth). I believed that these plays formed the basis of a personal creative inquiry and what better way to test this hunch than to commit to 5 weeks of indwelling with 22 young artists. My job was to work out a process that would result in two things:
1. Personal and artistic growth for 22 Year 10 students
2. A succinct and powerful performance piece for the Brisbane
community.

I knew how important it was to “start where we are at”. So we did. We read the three scripts in one sitting. I introduced them to Relational Impulse Training (RIT), a training that I devised when working in the Drama department at QUT. Mark Radvan, artistic director of Imaginary Theatre, was a terrific supporter of the process and provided me opportunities to develop it within his company. Mark, who now heads up the Acting School at QUT, has gone on to do a doctorate about impulse training and its importance as a tool for creative performing. There is a link to Relational Impulse Training on this website.

Normally I start with stick work when working with a new and inexperienced group but I decided to return to the floor and allow the ideas to grow from stillness. We moved on the floor and began to wed Viewpoints with RIT. The QACI actors are very versed in Viewpoints. It is a pivotal part of their curriculum. We then introduced Body Voice, the name suggested by Stephen Matthais. It seemed to create an expectation that the voice does not just come from a breath but from the entire body: in other words the voice becomes embodied.

Time was of the essence. We took the pieces of the plays that resonated with the actors and we began to shape them, putting them together while working on the floor. We could see a pattern emerging. We had three mythological stories (The Myth of Er, The Selfish Giant and Queen Isis and Osiris). We had a handful of ‘domestic’ scenes, exploring daily life as well as ideas of identity and the concept of multiple selves.
The task was for the actors to go with what felt right. This meant that I did not ‘cast’ them as such, they actually cast themselves, which is the way I prefer to work. I believe the actor knows what role is right for them, even at this tender age.

How did it all come together?

I always choose collaboration over working alone. With like minded theatre makers, we can create something that can resonate with many. Benjamin Knapton, Associate Director at CIRCA and my key creative in “He Dreamed a Train” was my chosen collaborator. In Coming Home he has worked as provocateur, technical director, dramaturg and all round co-creator. We met at the FORCE OF CIRCUMSTANCE studio, Metro Arts, several times to create some sort of pattern, sticking the script on the walls, dividing the play up into three sections and building from there.

Some scenes that were dearly loved by the ensemble had to be cut. The actors learned the hard lesson that as theatre makers we serve the play rather than the actors within it. They were gracious, supportive and adaptable.

We are now about to do our first Dress Rehearsal. We meet this afternoon to bring together five weeks of solid work. The production is looking good. Ben, Simon, Stephen and myself…we are all excited about the way the ensemble has stepped up to embrace a contemporary, humanistic approach to theatre making. Yes, we had a script. No we did not have an order. We did not even understand, on a known level, what it was that we wanted to say. We had to wait, believing deeply that the core of the story would emerge when it was time.

And it did. One day, as we were working on the floor with the actors, it happened. Ben said something, I said something, Ben did something, I did something, the actors did something, and suddenly four weeks of work tumbled into shape. The story emerged. It had been there all along. We just could not see it.

Finally we convinced Travis Ash, who was co-creator for all three plays of the trilogy (writing/composing/performing as actor and musician), to join the ensemble as live musician. So we have lights, we have sound, we have surprises for the audience, we have 22 beautiful actor and we have a terrific crew (headed by Katie, Production Manager and Emma our Stage Manager).

So, once upon a time, a long long time ago and only yesterday there was a little boy and a little girl, Oscar and Eve…