I just returned from 5 days in Ashland, Oregon at the Shakespeare Festival during which time I saw 6 plays, 4 by Shakespeare, 1 by Moliere, and 1 by Tom Stoppard. Because I was with a Columbia College trip, there were other perks: a prologue given by an actor before every play, an acting workshop, a set design workshop, a conversation with an actor, and a backstage tour. It was all marvelous as well as fodder for self-criticism, like "I'm probably the most uncreative person in the world" and "I'm a fool to think I can write" and "If I were truly an artist, I would have accomplished something by now . . . like the book that I finished 3 years ago would be published." There were 14 young people with us who were smart and witty and full of verve, like none I ever felt way back in my 20s. I struggled for 5 days to keep from drowning in self-pity and recrimination. On the bus on the way home, I made myself write a list of what I learned during the 5 days and how I was going to use it to stimulate my creative life. (thanks to ZenChump who wrote a list a week or so ago) Here is my list:
Shakespeare stole or copied most of the ideas for his plays. I will take an idea from somewhere, anywhere and grow a piece of writing from it, tweak a line of poetry, or copy it and put in new words, or copy an essay, paragraph by paragraph but change the subject (like I did for my critical paper).
Shakespeare, in one year (forget what year??? 1598???), wrote 5 of his best plays. I must write more. I have to put writing FIRST, i.e. put my bottom in the chair everyday and write, make lists of ideas to write about; start copying quotes in my quote book and write about them; set up my office space to work better for writing; set a schedule; keep making lists of ways to generate more work . . . write them in the idea book.
Vilma Silva (who played Kate in Taming of the Shrew) talked about facing the language in a play and recommended a book, Clamorous Voices to learn how to use the silence. Hmmm . . . where is the silence in a piece of writing and how might it be used. Get the book for study.
Chris Albright (who played Juliet) said she had the goal to play Juliet for 10 years before it happened. Once I finished the goal of completing my book, I have written less, though last summer I wanted to write 1-2 essays and I accomplished that. Set a goal. (Will it be the Borgquist book?)
As You Like It touched me deeply, made me weep. Leave the chaos behind; go into the forest. Be kind and devoted. Make these themes in my work. "Like a doe, I go find my fawn and give it food . . " (Orlando speaking of Adam; Act II Scene VII).
On the Razzle. Read Stoppard's Arcadia (because I know it's famous). Is there a movie of Arcadia? Fun for fun's sake, slap-stick, puns, playing with language, making it as goofy as possible with lots of repetition. Write short pieces and poems that are goofy until I get better at it. For instance, how could I make this post more funny. Could I go on the razzle? Or am I stuck with a rattle, shaking loose change in my pockets with not a funny thought in my wallet? Keep trying PH.
Tartuffe: OMG, religious hypocrisy NEVER goes away. Am I stuck with an inabliilty to turn it all into a farce while it sits like a huge elephant in the living rooms of my family. Where does the whole idea of an Interfaith conversation fit in with what I need and want regarding religion and hypocrisy?
The Tempest: Memorize the revel speech. Wear scarves and capes, especially chiffon with jeans. Something flowing like the blue outfit I bought at the second-hand store. Be the sky for Halloween. Wear blue eye-shadow.
The Stage Tour: Theater is a complex operation that requires cooperation and collaboration and lots of money. Theater companies need audiences and volunteers and donors. Comedy is always better attended than serious drama (dark or sad stories). Dressers become actors and actors become dressers. Playwrights need money so they work theater jobs (sometimes). My favorite actor (the one who played Adam in As You Like It) led part of the tour. He was a devoted member of the troupe who lives year to year not knowing if he will be signed again despite having been with OSF since 1969. He's proud of the company, generous with his praise, full of gratitude to audiences without being effusive, and knows and willingly shares the story of OSF. So much to emulate in all of this.
Report back here on my success with this list one month from now on November 8.