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a Day 53 with 2 halves

March 3, 2010

First half: dark day of deathly doubt.
Did resist wrist-slitting. No need to blog about.

Second half: to work with community cast
Did restore my spirit to inspire at the last.

That’s about all I posted last night, after an emotional roller-coaster of a day that left me feeling numb, exhausted, and very sorry for myself.

It’s the little things that get you. Something you thought was solid and settled which some other party – perhaps someone you don’t even know, and didn’t know they had anything to do the thing in question – starts reopening and unravelling. Not used to handling a relatively big budget – but one with little or no fat in it – I’m very sensitive to anything which could potentially take us into the red – or worse.

I’ve done / am doing all I can to limit the risks -benefitting from the expert advice of the business members on our Executive Committee and the Southwark Mysteries Development Group, as well as consulting extensively with Sarah, Katie and Kate our production manager. Even so, it can be a challenge getting hard and fast agreements, especially with partners who may well consider that they’re already doing us favours.

This morning,  I remind myself that, even if it should all go to Hell in a hand-cart,  I won’t help by shouting ‘We’re all doomed!’, that these little tea-cup storms have to be weathered, and that sometimes you just have to trust that you’ll all honour your agreements, and all will be well. May it be so.

And I’m a little shocked and ashamed to have allowed my mild bi-polar proclivities to plunge me from the mystical communion with the Besht (see Day 54) – recognising and gathering the Divine seeds in all things – to that self-pitying alienation, the overwhelming desire to just step out of the window and have done with it.

Only, if I did, that wouldn’t be the end of it. Whether or not there is a literal afterlife, in which we are judged, perhaps not be some external authority but precisely by our own inner spark of the Divine, judged in that ultimate solitude of our conscience – Prince Hamlet’s dilemma: ‘To sleep: perchance to dream: aye, there’s the rub!’

Aside from that, there’s the mess I’d leave behind. There’s Katie and Sarah and Kate and all the others who’ve selflessly dedicated themselves to this project, working long hours for little or no play, supporting me when the weight gets too heavy, getting on with it. And even if there are one or two fair-weather supporters, who’ve maybe used me for their own purposes, having me work for a pittance because they know this is something that I care about more deeply than any personal wealth or fame which might accrue from it, well that’s the way of this poor world, and I should be grateful that I do have something bigger than my own little world to believe in. And those opportunists are far outnumbered by the good people who’ve gone to great lengths, often also at some personal cost,  to nurture this fragile little flower.

So, that’s the first half done and dusted. Now, the good news!

It took me a while to come out of my vile mood. I was doing my best to disguise it, aware that the community cast had no idea of the backstage dramas and that vibing them out was probably not the best way to encourage their dedication and commitment to the good cause. Luckily, Sarah, Ita, Katie and Kate were there to get things moving.

Ita did a great physical / vocal warm-up, using a call and response game to get everyone to physicalise their name. Then some walking in a circle, forwards, backwards, sideways, imitating others, ending by all closing in to the centre and opening out to the circumference with accompanying sounds and movements.

Sarah led a follow-my-leader game, developing it so that different members led the the group.

I led the singing of The Ballad of Mary Overie, first all together, then in 3 groups each singing individual verses.

Before the break, Sarah again set the scene – the world, historical background and setting of the play on the south bank of the Thames – and evoked the physical environment of the Cathedral which she encouraged everyone to visit and explore.

We divided into 3 groups: Sarah worked with the men on the tunnellers song; Ita with half the women on By the Grace of Our Lady Mary Overie.

The women in our group outnumber the men roughly 2 to 1.

I got to work with the other 8 women as Devils.  We focused on a simple advance-retreat exercise. The devils had to advance slowly on one nominated ‘soul’ as the object of their desire; as they got closer they had to become ever more confident and menacing, until they were surrounding their prospective victim – right ‘in their face’. Then, the moment the victim said ‘Boo!’ , s/he was immediately transformed into Jesus, the scariest thing imaginable – to a demon – and they would all retreat – terrified, cowed or grovelling apologetically: “Ow! Ow! HarrOW!”

Each group then performed for the others. I was proud of my female devils, who emerged nervously from behind a curtain on the far side of the hall, creeping querulously towards us, gradually gaining confidence to become more menacing, then harrOWing in unified retreat at the first ‘Boo!’ The contrast had everyone in stitches.

After feedback at the end of the session, we checked everyone’s availability, then handed out the scripts. So everyone in the cast now has a chance to find out what sort of play they’re in.

Hopefully they’ll be even more committed once they’ve read it.

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One comment

  1. Keep at it John and don’t let the little voices of the Goose be lost in the maelstrom. Lord know’s art can be a tedious business at times, remember what you have to say is important. ))hugs((



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