Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Finding Your Muse... Again and Again....

Performance #117 and looking for my inspiration...

When I first performed my show, A CHILD LEFT BEHIND, the sheer adrenaline of performing a new piece carried me through four months of performances with each one having its own little chunk of "Newness", purpose and artistic power.  Now as I enter the third year of performing my show, the search for newness, power and purpose can be a little more elaborate and difficult.
While I strive to create an original performance each time I walk on stage, gone is the wonder over whether or not the show "works" or if it will be received well.

That satisfaction and comfort is death for an artist and complacency is the grease on the wheels that will send you careening away from artistic integrity and smack dab into a brick wall of a hackneyed, tired and very safe performance.  Like a McDonald's Big Mac - not necessarily bad but there will be no surprises, no excitement and ultimately a feeling of disappointment over what could have been.
To combat those dangers of complacency, I look for causes, fights and stands that inspire me, fuel my creative fires and lead me to believe that my work can make a difference in someone's life.

Last month I performed my show at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills.  As a company member, I was fortunate enough to be offered space in the theatre to perform my show.   There was no need to recoup any finances because I was not putting out any money to show my work.

I knew there would be friendly receptive audiences seeing as I was a new member of the company and having performed the show for the past two years already, there wasn't much in the way of artistic doubt about it's validity or the quality of the show. (remembering my lines - different story)
Inspiration can be a crap shoot....
 So what could I do to light the fire that made performing this show a necessity?  For this particular group of performances, the inspiration was blue - light blue to be exact.  It was Autism Awareness Month and the light blue shade recognized by many as the color of Autism and all those who affected by these complex disorders of brain development.  This was who I was performing for and my artistic goal became one of advocacy and education.  
This month was a little different.  As a teacher in Los Angeles, I am exposed to many things that leave me scratching my head in confusion.  This past week was no different.  A newly hired principal at my school - a woman with no previous experience as a leader of a school - reacted to parental scrutiny and concern by exercising a rare power to displace seven teachers from our school.  These teachers, while still employed by the LAUSD, would have to seek employment elsewhere and accept whatever stigma that came with it.  I was one of those seven.
LIFE IMITATES ART... or the other way around.
The reaction to this displacement was a combination of anger and confusion.  Weren't these seven teachers model examples of what it means to be a great teacher?  Weren't the beloved by our school community and parents?  That's when a connection was made.  All seven teachers - with strong ties to the PTA - were displaced to send some kind of distorted message to the parents.
Whatever that message was meant to be, it was met with a focused activism that quickly (I'm talking three days) led to our principal's removal and the reinstatement of all seven teachers.  A loud and clear message spoken in unison by teachers, parents, students and community members - "This is our school and we fight to protect it!"  
In my play, I talk about speaking up and the costs that come with it.  What I am more present to than ever is that we need to speak up.  We need to fight for those things we believe in despite the costs and that if we allow it, our best interests can be washed away in a tidal wave of bureacratic apathy and self-serving.  We must speak up or suffer the price of silence.  And on with the show....
A CHILD LEFT BEHIND can be seen at the Santa Monica Playhouse; Friday nights at 8 pm.  It opens May 16th.  For more information or tickets, please CLICK HERE

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