dani gets her mind read

Obviously, Britt is the one reading my mind, as always.  For example, last week, Britt talked about her Sunventure during the Portland summer fake-out, and the fact that she bought a ukulele and started learning Speechless by Lady Gaga.  I would include this incredible song in this post, but I did that before, and I don’t want to be redundant.  But the mind-read-y part is that I have been learning Speechless on the guitar and singing it nonstop for about two months now.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD, BRITT HARRIS!!  You better bet that once Britt and I are reunited in LA you will be able to catch us butchering covering so many rad songs at so many open mic nights.  

I was MIA from this Blog-Land last week, since it is finals time in Grad-School-Land.  And in my particular Grad School, that means culmination performances, lots and lots of rehearsals, and 0% down-time. In the chaos of it all, I started to get a little stressed, a little scattered, and mental static started to build up and cloud my mind.  

Not only had I not been writing in Blog-Land, but I wasn’t writing at all.  Just at the right moment, I got an awesome article in my inbox from Britt called “Why you should write daily.”

Stop reading my mind, Britt!!  

…Actually don’t stop.  Ever.  Please. (***By the way, what happened to you Lindsay?  You used to be so great!  Come back to us! )

*Sigh* But seriously it is kind of amazing to me just how quickly I start to lose my mind when I get lazy or fearful and consequently refuse to engage myself in true self-expression.  And I don’t think it’s just me, I think it’s true for all of us.  Creativity leads to self-knowledge, which leads to universal knowledge and a better understanding of humanity.  Without that progression, it is easy to get lost in a vortex of misapprehension and/or self-deception.  It’s easy to lose sight of what is real and true, especially in a society filled with so many distractions and demands on our attention.  We owe it to ourselves to be creatively engaged, and I owe it to myself to write.  

So, with that, I missed you, Blog-o-Sphere!  However, I’m not ABOUT to share my journal on the internet.  A lady needs to keep one or two secrets!  Instead, let me explain my absence by telling you what I’ve been up to this week:

1.

Making a film!  My degree is definitely focused almost entirely on theatre, but we have a class called Freeplay which involves, well, FREE PLAY but it’s all film.  Everything we do has to be entirely written, acted, shot, and edited completely by us.  For this project, the challenge was for all 11 of us to write, act, shoot, edit 1 project.  We were inspired by this rad NY Times article that our instructor Ntare showed to us, then we came up with a premise that could get all 11 of us into 1 film.  We each developed a character, improvised a bunch of material, came up with a structure, and then shot and edited it.  The full thing is like 15 minutes long, but here is a chunk of it.  

I ended up doing a lot of shooting and editing, so you won’t see me in it a whole lot, but it was a total blast and I’m actually really proud of it, considering that I had almost NO experience with film at ALL at the beginning of this semester, and I had certainly never edited a damn thing in my life.  The idea behind Freeplay is to learn by experience and to empower us to create our own work in another medium besides theatre.  

2.

Clownin’ around!  Clown class with Matt Walker has been aaaaaawwwweeeeessssssoooooommmmmmeeeeeee.

photo 1

3.

Rehearsing “Don Quixote.” We have spent the last few months creating this play together completely from scratch, using Cervantes 940 page novel as our source material.  It has been distilled into a 99-minute imaginative adventure created with just our bodies in a black box theatre.  This is us doing a company line-through outside a couple of days ago. 

photo 2

4.

Getting 5 shots!  

indiashots

I don’t know why I’m making the same face in this picture as when I was a clown, but I’m assuming it’s because I had just gotten 5 shots.  Not “taken” five shots, but “gotten” five shots.  Although I totally got a fever from the flu shot that night and felt/acted completely drunk.  It was kind of awesome.  

Why might I get 5 shots, do you ask?  Because in 21 days I’m going to India!!! 

I. am. so. excited.  

Holy mackerel. It has been a challenge to stay focused on all of the tasks at hand during these last couple of weeks with my trip looming like a beautiful shiny lotus flower at the end of the month.  Thankfully, I haven’t really had time to sleep, and therefore I haven’t really had time to think about things beyond the day-to-day.  

As of today, I have 3 culminations down and five to go.  Time to keep acting, keep writing, and keep sane. Let’s get it!!!! 

dani talks crazyballs

Obviously, that is what this week has been, both for myself and Britt.  This is the first week that our long-distance-dual-blogging schedule broke down a little bit, due to the fact that Britt and I are both CRAZYBALLS right now. 

crazyballs: adjective, adverb \ˈkrā-zē-ˈbȯlz\

The state or quality of being out-of-control, busy, or otherwise in a state of madness.

“Did you see Brent is Scene Study class today?  Boyfriend got CRAZYBALLS.”

“I’d love to get together but my schedule is super crazyballs right now.  Hit me up in a couple of weeks.”

If you desire further explanation, please enjoy the image of this dress, which was emailed to me by my friend Liz, and which appeared in a Nordstrom ad on the Merriam-Webster website when I went to find the official pronunciation of the word “Balls.”

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by Topshop. From Nordstrom

Aside from the fact that my acting program relentlessly pushes us deeper and deeper into our own psyches, Aside from the fact that it stretches our physical capabilities and challenges our notions of what we think we are capable of, Aside from the exhaustion that comes with total honesty…  Aside from all of that work that happens in our actual classes, there is part-time-job work, there is backstage-work on plays, and most recently, there is work on my class’s production of Don Quixote. 

Miguel de Cervantes’ 900+ page masterpiece novel Don Quixote begins like this:

“Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and greyhound for racing.”

And it tells the story of a 50-year-old gentleman of reduced circumstances whose primary joy in life is to read books of chivalry, which tell tall tales of knights and damsels in words like

…the heavens on high divinely heighten thy divinity with the stars and make thee deserving of the deserts thy greatness deserves.”

Cervantes explains, “With these words and phrases the poor gentlemen lost his mind…” and changed his name to Don Quixote, changed the name of his horse to Rocinante, fancied a young village girl named Aldonza was actually his great Lady Dulcinea, and sallied forth into the land as a knight errant to right wrongs, seek adventure, and gain eternal renown.  

1-DonQuixote-001_zps77a1eeee

Don Quixote by Svetlin Vassilev

In other words, he went crazyballs and went off on a grand imaginative adventure to expand his greatness and increase the good and nobility in the world.  ….Hmmmmm….. Yesssss…..

Wait, hold up!  Turn into a play?  Reading a novel?  Rehearsals?  WHAT IS GOING ON HERE??

This semester my class is being placed in the fire of “devised theatre” to be refined and molded into an ensemble.  Devised theatre is also known as collaborative creation, and in this case the creative process is centered around the source material of Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote.  This program being incredible physical, we are using the common ground laid by the head of our program Andy Robinson, as well as our physical work with David Bridel, as well as working with Edgar on Mary Overlie’s viewpoints, as well as the work in all our other classes, to create the story of Don Quixote from scratch with our bodies (and our voices).

So that is that in a nutshell. Don Quixote saddles up with his trusty squire, AKA his hapless peasant neighbor Sancho, and the two go off to claim glory and adventure.  

Don Quixote and Sancho, by  Svetlin Vassilev

Don Quixote and Sancho, by Svetlin Vassilev

There are many things I love about this story.  One is the fact that, despite the fact that everyone is somewhat shocked and horrified at Don Quixote’s madness, he brings true magic into a lot of people’s lives.  At first, he is a source of mayhem and ends up getting his ass righteously kicked a lot, but he ends up inadvertently uniting young lovers embroiled in the most romantic, imaginative and unlikely romance of all times.   He ends up bringing joy, wisdom, and entertainment into the lives of a bored Duke and Duchess who decide to play along with his madness.  He counsels wisely as much as he rambles madly, and as much as people dismiss him, he ends up changing a lot of lives.  I begin to wonder whether or not the people he encounters see that they really are romantic heroes themselves.  He blurs the lines between the possible and the impossible, the real and the unreal, and he reminds us to be our most noble, our most selfless, and our most true selves.  

So this weekend as we kick off March, trekking onward and upward through the madness of 2013, here’s to Don Quixote and his crazyballs.

Don Quixote goes crazyballs in the mountains as Sancho looks on. by Gustave Dore.

Don Quixote goes crazyballs in the mountains as Sancho looks on. by Gustave Dore.