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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?)”.

hello, come in, sit a while

hello, come in, sit a while

As a therapist for artists, I work in the fields of “intimacy and solitude”. I spend time with people whose vocation it is to change the world. For that to happen, I have to constantly define and refine my own practice both as therapist and as artist. Right now I am in the final stages of writing a PhD about Home and Belonging. Where do we belong? How do we belong? What does it mean to belong? As I have reflected I have discovered old writings that are still to be dreamed on:

This work was to be done using a telephone.

Pick up the phone (image taken outside of a Chicago Art Gallery several years ago)

Pick up the phone
(image taken outside of a Chicago Art Gallery several years ago)

The audience member would stand in a phone booth. The phone booth would be comforting, not cold. It would smell good. The voice of the actor, my voice, would be soft.
The audience member would pick up the phone.

The voice would be heard:

A phone box made out of books. A place of contemplation

A phone box made out of books. A place of contemplation

If I were to have an idea it would be the idea of connection.
If I were to have an idea it would be an idea of touching lightly
Walking lightly. Breathing lightly
If I were to have an idea it would be cooking something for you.
I would cook you scones and make jam and whip cream for you.
I would make a cup of tea with tea leaves, hot water, a beautiful ceramic tea pot and thick creamy milk and rich sugar.
Not white.

Tea for you

Tea for you

If I had an idea I would invite you to sit a while and breathe with me and listen to music of your choice.
For I am your host you see.
If I had an idea I would hold your hand until you no longer wanted me to hold your hand.

Hands can speak

Hands can speak

I would wrap my favourite hand crocheted rug around your shoulders and rock you like your mother did when you were small.

My Grandmother's cushion

My Grandmother’s cushion

If I had an idea I would breathe for you so that you could scream for freedom and your love, your capacity would explode the world apart with its power and strength. Then we would put the world back together again, a kinder world, a more gentle world.
If I had an idea I would polish your shoes so that you could see your beautiful smile every time you leaned over to scratch your ankle.
If I had an idea I would sew you a coat of deliciousness that you could wrap yourself in when you yearned for a warm moment within this oftimes cold world.
If I had an idea I would carefully pour warm oil over your head to wash away the hurtful comments and actions from those who do not know who you are.
If I had an idea I would sew you up in a huge envelope and post you to your love.
If I had an idea I would blow sweet kisses across all borders and dance (not) naked in the streets of violence- with open heart—a naked heart perhaps.
If I had an idea I would walk the walk of Australia to awaken the stories waiting to be told by silent grandmothers and boisterous girls.
If I had an idea I would create for you journey shoes to take you wherever it is you needed to go right now.

I would write you books for whatever you need to hear right now and I would sing you words to settle your anxiety of old.

I will write you a book

I will write you a book

I would, if I had an idea, dance until you told me-stop.
I would cook until you said
“My darling. I am finished. I have had enough. Let me rest”. And I would.

And I would leave, knowing that you were safe

And I would leave, knowing that you were safe

THE BIG DAY OF BELONGING AT STATE LIBRARY OF QUEENSLAND

The Curious Caravan turns up at all the good places

The Curious Caravan turns up at all the good places

A big day of belonging. What could be better! I have spent my morning reflecting on my experiences on Saturday 16th January 2016 at our State Library of Queensland. A delicious day. A gentle day. A day of creativity and connection. And chai.

To begin: those of you who know my work over the last fifteen years, know that I have focused hugely on what it means to belong, working with artists and the community to awaken their infinite talent, energy and commitment to living a life of purpose, joy and enthusiasm (www.4change.com.au). Margi Brown Ash’s website

I love this quote about roads to belonging:

Each one of us…should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches, each one of us should make a surveyor’s map of his lost fields and meadows. Thoreau said that he had a map of his fields engraved in his soul
(Gaston Bachelard)

So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that there was a brilliant team of SLQ staff organising a day where the entire community would be invited to focus on belonging. This day of belonging would give us a chance to speak of our own roads of connection…and to make our own surveyor’s map.

I leave home in plenty of time, go via Metro Arts where a delightful festival for young artists is happening (2High Festival with Backbone Theatre), rescue a dying plant in my studio on the third floor and finally make my way across the river to the cultural precinct. It is a dullish day, a welcomed day after the heat of the past week. The clouds keep the direct sun at bay and there is a light breeze from the river.

The Big Day of Belonging has been planned by Linda Barron, Executive Manager of Community Engagement, Brendan Ross, Senior Programming Officer, Kevin Wilson, Curator along with their substantial team. Today they are launching the library’s new theme for 2016: “Belonging 2016”.

A most welcomed theme: There have been many disruptions in our town recently, violence has reared its ugliness on the streets, violating our sense of belonging in our community. So to have a day to step into, a day where State Library Queensland dedicated its passionate staff and substantial resources to create what they called “a belonging day” well, it was a delight to participate.

TO BEGIN:

large pieces of paper with colouring in patterns...if you wanted you could purchase the books inside at the library's bookshop

Large pieces of paper with colouring in patterns…if you wanted you could purchase the books inside at the library’s bookshop.

On arrival, first things first. “I must find a program so I know what I am to do”. I am greeted by a smiling face next to a huge table with large colouring-in sheets and hundreds of coloured pencils. People are standing, quietly drawing, filling in, gentle breathing. “Ahh. This will slow me down” I think and I stand next to a small person and slow down to her pace, pick up a pink pencil and begin to colour in. This is serious business. No one talking, just focusing on the task at hand. “I’ll find a program afterwards…this is too yummy to rush”. People come and go and a feeling of “there’s enough time, enough time” filters through the enclosed courtyard.

After a time, I turn around and see a beautiful cardboard house, with lots of rooms, little homes to play in. Tables with craft supplies and engaged faces. “My chance to find a program” I think as I wander through the courtyard. A flower filled table and three young artists catch my attention.

Hanna, Anna and Dani, three fabulously vibrant women who transformed the community with their sass, their vibrancy and their flowers.

Hanna, Anna and Dani, three fabulously vibrant women who transform the community with their sass, their vibrancy and their flowers.

Anna, Hanna and Dani are taking pictures of people who have flowers, scarves and beads in their hair. The atmosphere is peaceful yet electric as I watch these three designers dress people up and take their photo before the next eager child or woman steps forward. I stand transfixed. I chat with Kevin Wilson, the curator at SLQ, as I watch the scene unfold. We both agree that this activity really encapsulates a sense of peace and quiet. A sense of belonging -beautiful flowers and happy faces…I stand for a long time. My body rhythm has slowed right down. As things go, I have no phone (forgot it AGAIN), no mini Ipad, no camera. so there is nothing to distract me. I stand and watch the process. Finally I decide “its my turn” and the designers then create a marvellous array of flowers, scarves, beads, everything they could lay their hands on. They dress me up a treat…an exotic form of what it could mean to belong in our great town…flowers, colour beauty all the things i like to surround myself with. After a substantial amount of time had passed I decide I need that program so I wave goodbye after leaving my phone number (I don’t want to lose contact with these vibrant artists). I move on.

I decide to enter the library. The only thing I struggle with at SLQ is the actual entrance. The need for a security guard is understandable, but I always feel as though I am a suspect rather than a guest/shareholder of this brilliant building of ideas, stimulation and passion. I quickly move through the barriers and race up the stairs to find the choir. I had bumped into a friend and his daughter earlier who were on their way to choir practice, so I thought I would join them, and on the way I even might find that program.

So glad I climbed those stairs. I found Kiri Waiata-Green, a dynamic woman artist who had the enormous task of creating a choir of strangers in one and a quarter hours. Kiri had composed several songs for us to learn, simple, beautiful l songs about belonging:

One step at a time
Travellin’ on our road
Walkin’ through life alone
Yet we seek to share the load

One step at a time
goin’ over, under and through
Makin’ it so much easier
Givin’ thanks for hlep from you

(Kiri Waiata, 2016)

I watched with awe and fascination as Kiri talked us through the ‘sops’ (soprano) middles and lows. Kiri divided the auditorium up into three sections. I came in late so found myself sitting in the sops. I’ve never been a sop before so I thought “Why not?”. I decided to embrace my head voice for a change.

Kiri doesn’t just help you sing. She makes you laugh and we spent a delightful hour singing, laughing, standing, sitting and ‘getting our groove on’. We were then invited to tea –“Oh sorry the urn has exploded”– so instead we had water, OJ etc with nibbles. So good. A terrific afternoon. I joke about the way Kiri’s lyrics will no doubt stay inside our heads for the next few days. And then I’m off. I know there is more to see and time is ticking by. Before I exit the building I enter the gallery space curated by Kevin. I was unsure if the gallery was opened or closed. It looked closed. I stand in the doorway, hoping…and the door opens. Magic. Then a second door opens. And I enter a huge gallery space with community work hanging all around. The criteria for this exhibition was that anyone could submit, no judgement, no critical review. The result is an explosion of images, some magnificent, some colourful and alive. All of them wonderfully alive. I know I need to return with my camera to unpack our community’s message of “peace and quiet”. It is a dynamic space, a cacophony of shapes and colours. A place where artists could find enormous stimulation, and not just those who call themselves artists, but people who embrace the artistry of life.

I then slip out of the gallery, skip down the stairs (I’m feeling good you can tell), pass the guard that I have now transformed into a delicious gnome, and I exit into the cool air. “Now where is that program?” I think and I turn right and head up to GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art, one of my favourite galleries in the world). And I stumble into the sister of an old friend. “Do you have a program?” and sure enough she does. Finally. My hunger for a program is satisfied and as I look through it I realise that I didn’t need it at all. The whole day has been so beautifully curated that it would be hard to miss the gems. On the lawn in front of me, the space that separates GOMA and SLQ, lots of people sit listening to the band Verandah Chix. They were fabulous, singing up a storm. They told us they sung in 14 different languages! I spy the glorious Pauline Maudy who is one of Brisbane’s strongest vocalists lined up with other powerful women I still need to meet. By this time Bill, my patient partner has joined me: he cycled from outer Brisbane where we live. I decide we need to create a house lantern, the main activity on the lawn apart from the fabulous entertainment. He prefers to sit and soak up the talent, so I make my way over to the art tables:

Our job was to create a home made out of cardboard, and transform it into a lantern.

Our job was to create a home made out of cardboard, and transform it into a lantern.

The activity was carefully planned…challenging… “I can’t do this!” sort of thing. But the art workers on the tables were fabulously encouraging. Not so the young one next to me. I felt truly judged as my lantern-home…well, it hit the dust more than a few times. And if I didn’t keep my wits about me the glue stick would disappear in a jot. There goes the scissors…wait!!!! And the sticky stuff…damn…So there I was… standing there feeling like the whole world was against me making this thing…these kids really know how to survive the craft table i can tell you. I need some lessons! After swallowing any pride I may have had and asking for substantial help, I finally did it! Windows in the wrong places, holes where holes should never be, but I did it. I stuck a tea light candle inside. Attached a bamboo stick and got out of there!

upatree arts were the facilitators of this fabulous event...yes, I felt challenged as a 60ish year old, but I was determined!

“upatree arts” were the facilitators of this fabulous event…yes, I felt challenged as a 60ish year old, but I was determined!

I found Bill, showed him my beautiful lantern and then sat and listened as the evening entertainment continued. Speeches came and went, welcoming us and announcing the year-long theme of Belonging. People listened,chatted, ate food (you could eat from the different food vans along the park: traditional food sold by Dale Chapman of Traditional Wellbeing, Muooz, Korean and The Curious Caravan). Children danced. Parents scolded, grandmothers moved with the music. Not over crowded, just right. Then it was time for the lantern parade. Kiri’s choir gathered (I did not. As a brand new sop, I thought I would serve the evening better recording what was going on so I could write to you all today) and sang the songs we had learned earlier in the day. The lanterns started moving across the stage:

The lantern parade began with the lanterns with the initials making up the word B E L O N G I N G followed by the choir and the  community of home lanterns

The parade began with lanterns with the words that spelled out B E L O N G I N G…glorious. Voices sang out in the now cool river air, children and prams and dads and uncles and aunts and mums and teenagers all moved with the parade, beautifully held by the chorus’s percussion and chanting. On arrival back in the internal courtyard,The Knowledge Walk, there was a wonderfully rich Welcome to Country, followed by two songs performed by the 1.15 hour long choir.

A wonderful day. A wonderful evening and one I will remember for some time. I know the library has lots of ideas for the rest of the year…I know I’ll be there, and before that I think I will take some craft lessons! No, I’ll just show up and get the kids to help me. After they have moaned and giggled about how incapable I am, they will be terrific and guide me home…we all belong.

The final number with Kiri's instant choir …… Welcome to Country …

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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stairway to play, creativity, sharing, community

stairway to play, creativity, sharing, community

This year has been a fast and furious one, with no time to do my usual workshops in “The Playpen”, the name I call our workplace where I live. Many years ago, when our fourth child was born, we created an area that we called The Playpen, where children could play and not be threatened by the wildlife here. Back then it was also used as a tennis court. Over the years we have let it go and now there is an uneven surface, turf torn, net gone, but it is perfect for playful creative practice. We erected a small stage, from the set of the play Eve, the first of my Trilogy and threw in Eve’s bathtub where she would “write the lines of shape and shadow”. We have tables and umbrellas and a fireplace for the cold evenings.

Outside PlayPen

Outside PlayPen

So, because I have not had my usual three day workshop this year, I decided to invite colleagues out to play. Over the years I have formed groups of women and men to engage in creative practice. One of these groups from two years ago was called “Writing My Way Forward”. We have a Facebook page and keep in touch sporadically. I contacted the writers, along with our “Women in Theatre Bridge Club”, a political group of women endeavouring to work towards gender parity in our theatre industry–you will hear more of this group in the new year–and we decided to meet at The Playpen and hold a salon, a place of sharing stories. I set up inside the house this time: the sky was threatening rain. Our living room studio is perfect for creative work, full of hundreds of books and paintings of all calibre. I set up for collage: piles of magazines, pastels, pencils, glue sticks and cartridge paper. I made brownies, cheese plate, lemon water and three different teas. People began to arrive with plates of delicious food to share, we poured our tea and began.

Far less formal than a workshop, the salon provided opportunities for the group to inform each other. We began with a sort of informal check in sharing where we were at. I love checking in, be it over a coffee with a friend or a workshop with three hundred people. It is a chance to hear where people are physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. We heard about some of the changes that have happened for people, some of the dreams that still have to awaken, some of the achievements this year had allowed. All of the themes were relevant for everyone: we were all artists, most of us were mothers of varying aged children, and we all dealt with the issue of wedding our artistic life with our domestic living and at the same time earn a living. The importance of self care for the artist was emphasised, it always is when artists get together at The Playpen: we try to do too much for too many and then wonder why we feel burned out.

After about the fourth person’s check in, one of the guests opened a large box of pencils. That was interpreted by the group as permission to begin and so while we were chatting, the creative work began: drawing, doodling, tearing out words and images from tens of magazines. We continued this way for the next few hours, only stopping to refill our teacups and indulge in the treats on the table next to us.

On completion of our collages, we talked about what we could see: what images sat next to other images, shapes, size, colour, intensity, that sort of thing. Normally, if this was a workshop, I would help guide the unpacking of the collage, pointing out different things that I saw. This would then be opened up to the group, who, with careful use of language (no assumptions or interpretations are needed) tell their own story in relation to the person’s collage. Eg. “When I see that I think of…” All of these stories add data to our own understanding of what “we don’t know we know”. This way of working has been highly influenced by several approaches to understanding: MIECAT, a creative arts institution based in Melbourne, which focuses on finding meaning through art making; and COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE (Taos Institute), a postmodern way of being in the world that embraces multiplicity of self and other, multiplicity of stories and an awareness of the environment that contributes to the situation at hand. In our salon, the unfolding of meaning happened collaboratively. We all responded in our own time to what was happening in front of us: what we saw, what we felt, what we heard and what we imagined.

What emerged last evening interested me enormously and took me back to Greece last month, where I co-facilitated with Dr. Jean Houston and Jennifer Evanko. We experienced an “Aesclepion Group Dream”, where parts of one person’s dream were relevant to all. This is what happened with our collaging: we could take parts of our fellow traveller’s collage and apply it to our own lives. This expanded and enriched our own meaning.

What I love about collage is that everyone can do it. People rarely feel confronted with the task. I issued no instructions this time (usually I do) and people approached it all differently. Some started with doodling, some doodling turned into symbols. Some began drawing and then built on the drawing with images from magazines. I like to have a wide variety of magazines available and one of my favourite are the old National Geographic. But you can just as easily do it with contents from your handbag or brief case. Or your top drawer.

As I look at my collage this morning I can see it has two distinct sides to it, divided by a beautiful image of an actor standing in the centre of a floor filled with faces. The room has an ancient feel to it: a great hallway in the true tradition of the hallway, where everything happened, not so much a hallway today, a passage to somewhere else. Though as I look at this image I see that it is a passage to the imagination. This central image is the one I am ‘indwelling’, applying it to constructs inside my head, experiencing it, dreaming it. Images have power in them and if we allow time to absorb that force it can give gifts of transformation. I notice in the lower right hand corner an orange chair, a chair for storytelling, for dreaming. It is empty.

As I write this post, my friend calls from USA. And I immediately think: no, the chair was waiting. I place myself in the chair and hold my telephone (in fact it is a computer) and we begin to talk. We are creating new stories together, trips to ancient lands to rediscover the potential and possibilities of our future selves. A time to reflect and grow new ways of being in the world. We chat for a long time about different things, including what Jean Houston calls Terma: here is a link that will give you an idea of what a Terma is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terma_(religion),

An idea, a symbol that we can plant in our past and in our future so that we can to move towards a purity of action. What can I do in this world to make it a place of nurture, of wonderment for the community at large?

Everything we do can contribute to enlarging the joy and aliveness of each day. Our salon of yesterday has enriched all of us. As I move through today I have firmly inside the images that I arranged (subconsciously) onto some cartridge paper. I have images that my colleagues chose. All swimming around inside my head. And I have a phone call positioned in my orange chair in the lower right quadrant, reminding me of the dreams for 2016. Soon we will be inviting you all to be part of that dreaming.

My intention today:

May today be a day of richness. May every image that enters our consciousness enrich us in some capacity and move us forward towards an authenticity of awareness, deep attentiveness and joy: the secrets of character.

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.
...

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