Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Rambling V: Annihilation

Tarot has come up a couple of times for me lately. I think about the Death card, which isn’t about death at all but about change. There has been an undercurrent of change in my life since early November. This change is brutal and visceral and not something I want others seeing and so I’ve tried to keep most of it hidden (to varying degrees of success or failure). I’ve shut all but 29 people out of my Facebook feed. Most don’t know what’s going on.

Last year I worked on a production that dealt with nursing, sickness, hospitals, and in the end a little bit of death. Its portrayal of death was...nice. Accepting. Placid. I guess I’m not that way. I fight back and expect change to defeat me actively. I expect destruction. I want it, but I don’t want it to come easy and don’t want to just give in. I want my surrender to be because there is nothing left in me and I have no other choice, and the change or destruction or whatever it is that I’m submitting to has clearly won, is clearly stronger than I am.

I want my surrender to be because there is nothing left in me and I have no other choice, and the change or destruction or whatever it is that I’m submitting to has clearly won, is clearly stronger than I am. Themes of a past November.

Note: I am not suicidal. I am actually talking about Death, the tarot card, meaning change.

This destruction has run through my sleep and my art and waking dreams ever since I was a kid - traces of it exist in the hallucinations I would have during bouts of sleep paralysis as a kid, they fueled my vampire obsession as a teenager, they were in my performance art and ActLab projects, other tendencies that I am not going to publicly admit, and they’re haunting me now. And when we were on the cruise in 2014 and all I could do was read Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation, that word became what I was seeking. It fit, because my brain never shut up. It was constantly analyzing and talking at me and there was no quiet, no moment of not thinking and just being and I needed to find whatever it was that stopped it. I believe that’s what all that nightmarish imagery going back to my childhood was about.

When those images and, well, me, showed up in the film version of the book I was stunned. Tessa Thompson’s character is me. In so many ways. I said this on Facebook and the immediate response from a friend was [frowny face]. Except...I don’t think of it that way. Being able to name what I am, and how I feel, and what I want isn’t sad. It’s honest. It’s brutal. And I need that for myself to move forward because I refuse to lie about any of it. Lying is what I do for others, for their comfort, but I don’t get to have that comfort - I know how my brain works. When I say “for their comfort” I mean I’m aware that I’m different, weird, and that “normal” to me is abnormal to them. I edit out a lot of me so that people think I’m normal-ish. So that I “pass.” Then I come home to my cats and I talk to them, talk to myself, talk to whoever is in my head. And I can be myself around my husband. He says he’s the only one I don’t regularly push away. Or he doesn’t let me push him away. Or he sticks through it. One of those. Being honest and saying I have been sitting on this couch writing this for the past 2 1/2 hours without getting up - there’s a block of cheese on the table that’s just sitting there, cheese goes bad after a bit, right? Sansa has been eyeing it, and I’ve had to tell her no several times. And this is nothing. I’ve sat here and worked for 8 straight hours in the past. My level of obsession and focus on things runs deep.

Finding balance is hard, wanting to find it is harder. Wanting to find it means giving up on impulse and instinct to follow discipline. Self-care, especially in the face of mental illness, especially as a working theatre artist, is hard. No one else cares and no one else is going to do it for you. A good friend of mine said to me yesterday to find three things that bring me happiness each day - one of hers was coffee. So, ok:
  1. Coffee
  2. Jesus Christ Superstar (I’m designing it this summer)
  3. Shitty Third Cat
Despite that I’m still awful at it. Especially in month 5 of winter.

People question what it is that I seek, why I’m drawn to things that will hurt me or destroy me. I’m drawn to the darkness because I want it to annihilate me. Not in a negate me sense but in a change me sense. We all seek self-destruction. I’m just going to be open about it. I’ve been seeking self-destruction since before I was six years old - destruction of my body, destruction of my mind. In one weird way or another, everything has been about that - annihilation of the self. And in a way that’s what I do in my daily life. I work so that I don’t have to face myself, don’t have down time, “me” time, time alone with my thoughts. I work until bedtime, until I’m exhausted and can just collapse and go to sleep instantly. And now I look at my sleep data from fitbit because I’m obsessed with sleep and how my particular sleep patterns do or don’t match up to the bizarre way they used to be (I used to not cycle through sleep stages, it appears I do now), trying to figure out what I’m not getting enough of (REM and deep sleep). Trying self-hypnosis to see if I can sleep better which doesn’t really help except to get me to sleep faster. Which only means I wake up faster, at 4am. Shitty Third Cat knows that I’m awake at 4am and that’s when we cuddle.

The hallucinations as a kid, from sleep paralysis - they weren’t the normal ones, where something is crushing you or sitting on your chest (I did have that when they came back after the colonoscopy drugs induced it in 2003). They were transformation and body horror. My body being transformed, usually into plant life - which made the Tessa Thompson character all the more haunting. She says in the movie that she doesn’t want to face or fight what’s going on with “The Shimmer,” she wants something else - and then vanishes, presumably submitting to it and becoming it. Giving in. Because it’s all she has left. The fact that Vandermeer wrote Annihilation after a dream makes the novel even more potent, with all the transformations that take place in it - people transforming into animals, into weird writing Crawlers, into parts of the land. There’s something about that type of change that has no regard for the person, the individual, just as the destruction occurring in my hallucinations/nightmares didn’t.

I have given up on Hawksmoor and am now rereading both Annihilation and Sputnik Sweetheart - I think there might be a connection there, why I am so drawn to the latter and needing to make performance from it. Why I am Sumire just as I’m Tessa Thompson’s character from the movie. How these images of annihilation and destruction connected to these images of liminality and parallel realities - and why in both it’s an act of desperation that begins that journey.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sputnik Sweetheart Sketching.

“And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they're nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we'd be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.” 

Haruki Murakami

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Five Things: Notes from SLUT Tech

1. This seems appropriate.

2. When I was a kid we used to go camping in Maine - Lamoine Beach. It always rained and there were always slugs. One time I found a tree and climbed it, and just kept climbing until I was high above the ground. My dad found me and flipped the fuck out, because not only was I much higher than I should have been climbing, but the tree was dead. I was ecstatic though, I could see everything. I think about that a lot, and how he made he climb back down right away, and I didn't understand what I did wrong. Also, the ground was wet and smelly. Why would I want to be there?

In 2006 I listened - really listened - to Noe Venable's "Juniper" for the first time. I'd heard it before but that summer at Lakes Region was when I really listened and heard myself in the lyrics. I felt like the song was about me, or was me, my voice. I know who the song is really about but it hasn't stopped me from identifying with it, and I can't ever listen to it without remembering being in that tree. It wasn't my mother that made me come down obviously, and I honestly don't remember where she was in that picture - probably back at our campsite. But in my fantasy she wouldn't have yelled at me to climb down. In my fantasies she always understands why I do things, why I say or think things. Which is not how reality works. That isn't a fair thing to expect of a real person, but she isn't here. I spend a lot of time wrestling with whether or not it's alright for me to imagine an idealized version of her that completely understands everything about me, especially because I know that she was flawed herself.

But I've spent a good chunk of my life feeling like I was different, not in a good "unique" way but in a something is "off" kind of way. And while I have nothing but respect and love for how I was raised because it made me the person I am, there is a part of me that knows that I could never address this "off"-ness with my family. My dad always drags me back down to earth and makes me deal with realities and practicalities. This past weekend brought actual confirmation of a suspicion that Travis and I and several of our friends have held for many years about me. And it's not easy to wake up at age 41 and be not normal when you've gone through every day of your life assuming that the way you perceive the world has been "normal." Because if this isn't normal, then what the hell are the rest of you experiencing? And why did I go for years with the suspicion that I wasn't normal? Was it just because I had to move to a place where the differences were so pronounced that my directness and mode of communication/being was out of place? If she were here, the thought process goes, my mother would understand and believe me. I hate not being believed and I know that the others aren't up for that.

Mama, I've seen them, the others like me

3. SLUT is almost open and then the (still unnamed) Ireland project is the main project in front of me. I was also offered the chance to light Jesus Christ Superstar SOMEWHERE this summer and will hopefully be taking that - it'll be my second JCS.

4. I'm also working with David Kaye, a friend and former professor or mine from UNH, on the preconference for ATHE this year, which is centered around (wait for it) immersive theatre. I took David to see Learning Curve in Chicago when we were at ATHE in 2016 and...may have broken him a little. I remember I called David, the TD at UNH, after to apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused him. And I think another immersive/gaming friend may be involved as well. There are days when I'm well aware how blessed I am to know these people and be a part of so many great projects.

5. Last, but not least - my friend Kristen's podcast Creep Society interviewed Darren Lynn Bousman and Clint Sears of The Lust Experience as it hit the midway point (part 2 just started back up today). She did an incredible job with the interview and I think what I love the most about this, why it's one of my favorite interviews I've heard them give, is NOT because I'm mentioned but because they give such a clear view into part of their process for creating this crazy piece of art. And I am a process nerd.

Final dress tomorrow night. Actual real content coming soon on the whole Sleep No More thing and why it's NOT about consent. And why can't we have a more nuanced conversation about consent that goes beyond "Do you consent? check one: yes no"

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Consider a girl who keeps slipping off...

Ten years ago right now, Sarah Mosher. That's way, way too long for us to go without making original stuff together.

I am sending you a book and once March hits we're going to talk.

a girl who keeps slipping off,
arms limp as old carrots,
into the hypnotist's trance,
into a spirit world
speaking with the gift of tongues.”

I forget how much I love these poems, especially Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty. Until I see my left foot, of course. Both have so much buried in them that I keep digging up as I get older, not just Sexton's writing but the performances pieces we created from them. My obsessions are everywhere.

Briar Rose 
was an insomniac... 
She could not nap 
or lie in sleep 
without the court chemist 
mixing her some knock-out drops 
and never in the prince's presence. 
If it is to come, she said, 
sleep must take me unawares 
while I am laughing or dancing 
so that I do not know that brutal place 
where I lie down with cattle prods, 
the hole in my cheek open. 
Further, I must not dream 
for when I do I see the table set 
and a faltering crone at my place, 
her eyes burnt by cigarettes 
as she eats betrayal like a slice of meat. 

I must not sleep 
for while I'm asleep I'm ninety 
and think I'm dying. 
Death rattles in my throat like a marble. 
I wear tubes like earrings. 
I lie as still as a bar of iron. 
You can stick a needle 
through my kneecap and I won't flinch. 
I'm all shot up with Novocain. 
This trance girl is yours to do with.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

My Head Sounds Like That

Travis and I used to write LiveJournal posts (back in the day) called "My Head Sounds Like That" after the Peter Gabriel song. Lately I'm encountering pieces of art and words that make me think I need to do this again. I am revisiting fragments of my past lately that are resurfacing and seeing that similar threads have always been there, in what haunts me and what I'm making. Ten-ish years ago I was in the process of directing/creating Transformations with Sarah Mosher, at a period in my life where I was making other pieces of original art regularly. I don't do that as much anymore because I've been kept so busy as a designer. But everything back then, even though I didn't realize it at the time, was related.

1. The Artist is Present - Travis and I watched this last week, the Marina Abramovic documentary. This was pretty much prompted by discussions of ethicsinimmersivetheatre and other art that asks its audience to participate, or its artists to risk. How much should we care for the audience, as creators/authors. How much responsibility does an individual have. In some ways I believe we've taken this too far - we've made consuming art too safe, and when we aren't assuming responsibility for our own experience and care as consumers how are we supposed to be able to have any resiliency in processing that art? How are artists supposed to be as fearless as Abramovic if audiences can't be trusted?

We, as immersive theatre audiences/participants, have a responsibility to take some responsibility for ourselves. Not every experience/piece of art follows the same set of ethics or rules. Until my colleague Sam comes here to correct me, I'm going with ethics being a process of thinking through the answer to the question "what should I do?" and finding the answer to that based on one's own values and principles. That means that my answer to "what is ethical?" may differ from yours. 

I have more to say on this but it's taking time for me to articulate it.


"You choose your choices." I keep saying this lately, usually regarding some situations in The Lust Experience but also in life in general - a reminder that I am where I am because, for the most part, I chose to be there. Since Lust is about to enter Part 2 and I cryptically received what I was told was a "final warning," this feels ominously apt right now.


Come with me
For alone I fear the tide
It's calling me and dragging me
And I think it's time

This song. Is everything. I'm drowning in Tom McRae right now. And I think he and I had the same dream as a kid.

4. I'm working on this upcoming project with Collaborative Artists Company in Dublin, and recently was delving into Rebecca Horn as part of my research. This piece struck me - Finger Gloves, from 1972:

Transformations. Body art. She would create performances with body extensions that made it difficult to walk or perform basic tasks as a way of expressing pain that she was in after being critically ill for over a year and unable to practice art. There's something visceral and grotesque and fetishistic and nightmarish about them.

This image is what I'm obsessing over right now. I almost put a scene I was watching this morning from the 1927 Metropolis here, Maria being transformed into a robot, but I haven't seen the film in its entirety so I'll save that. This is 9 nights of sleep, data from an app on my phone that I'm pretty sure is crap but is interesting nevertheless. I bought a fitbit yesterday with the sole purpose of tracking sleep data, nothing else (fitbits look stupid, I'm not wearing it during the day). 

Red indicates being awake. Yellow is restless/light sleep. Green is deep sleep.

I used to not cycle through sleep - I never hit REM, supposedly. I had several sleep studies done and they didn't have explanations. I would hit deep sleep and just stay there (I think that's what it was). Then I stopped sleeping normally - I'd go through (and still go through) periods where I don't sleep. Theatre does that to you. The time when I should sleep becomes valuable time to work. But I'm supposed to keep to a strict 10:30pm-6:30am schedule, and so this is the result - it's not actually good sleep at all. It's not actually sleep. Except for that one night. That was the night after I had my first of three sessions for my shoulder tattoo and I was in a LOT of pain, so...I took four Advil PM. That was a nice night. You can see all the green.

Ten years ago when I was making Transformations and three years before that when we were creating Rapunzel, the first part of it, I was revisiting all the sleep paralysis incidents from my childhood (and the 2003 recurrence). I watch short films online, people expressing what sleep paralysis is like and it's never what it was like for me, because my "scary" experiences are almost never what others' are. So I spent years instead either making art related to them or having nightmares about them.

Now I look at that image and I see all the times I'm awake at night and I worry it will happen again, which it won't. It hasn't happened in 15 years, and it only happened then because of sedatives for a procedure. 

Anyway. Here's my tattoo, first appointment.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rambling IV: Write Something Useful.

I have this index card I tape to the wall next to the window each month. "January Goals," except of course the month is different on each card. It's a way of either shaming myself into doing stuff or reminding me what I am supposed to be working on...or a little of both. I've always been harder on myself than others think necessary.

I don't remember the good reviews ever, but I'm haunted by the bad.

Since I have one full day left of Christmas break before the spring winter semester starts up (I really believe they should rename it up here, I mean, it's winter right up until May, let's be honest), the one that's staring me down right now is:

8. Write SOMETHING useful.

See, I had meant to submit something to TDR's Critical Acts. Actually I've been meaning to do that ever since I saw Theatre Conpsiracy's piece at the Edinburgh Fringe, but it's now been months and months. I loved that piece because it was such a great balance of the personal and political in immersive theatre without being didactic. Self-reflection that actually caused one to think about and possibly change personal beliefs and politics, rather than just sit through a two hour lecture about a big issue that was then forgotten a day later because no real action could be taken immediately. On the other end of that spectrum I really hate naval-gazing and don't want to endlessly think about the self unless there's also something point-ful I can do with that. But Foreign Radical exposed hidden prejudices that I didn't realize I had towards people that looked like me, observations I was making without realizing it that could then be extrapolated.

But, I didn't write that. The semester happened instead.

Time’s not a wheel it’s a poison-tipped arrow, the good times they’re not coming back.

Then I had the idea to write (obliquely) about The Lust Experience, or my experience within it, in context with Ontroerend Goed's 2009 piece Internal. That should probably wait until it's over and I have the full context but the comparison is worth considering. What makes something ethical? Consent? Knowledge of what you're getting into? Length of time in the experience (five months at this point versus 25 minutes)? And it was pointed out to me yesterday, it's impossible for me to engage with Lust on an academic level right now.

But I keep reading about Internal. I wish I could see it. I've only seen their one, brilliant piece from last summer's Fringe. I don't know that 25 minutes with a stranger would actually affect me but I'd want to observe those it does affect. I recognize the reactions people have to it, only it's taken me months to feel those feelings.

"Internal never lets you (totally) forget that your opposite number is a performer and, as such, you know yourself to be interacting with a persona rather than a person. The rules of their individual performances – though they are not laid out in full – always make their presence known. We know that we are playing a game, we’re just not sure what the game is."

What if Internal didn't do this? Didn't make those rules known? Didn't make it clear what was persona and what was person? What was "game" and what wasn't?

In addition to this I'm now wading through research for the department's production of SLUT which, if you aren't familiar with the play, means completely immersing oneself in the entire history of rape culture. Travis last night heard me listening to videos on youtube and said "Why are you torturing yourself?" I'm not even sure to which video he was responding at that point. I now have Anita Hill and Sandra Fluke and Monica Lewinsky and Anita Sarkeesian and... more coming. I'm also watching friends of mine in the theatre world react strongly and violently (and rightly) to what is currently happening, not just in entertainment and politics but within our own industry. I think I would personally rather never hear another defense of Aziz Ansari. What really set me off this week was Robert Brustein's Facebook post, and Melissa Hillman's brilliant criticism of it over at her blog. She talks about his views on A Doll's House:

"Brustein dismisses Nora in A Doll’s House in Theatre of Revolt because he believes her “conversion” from a “protected, almost infantile dependent” to an “articulate and determined spokesman for individual freedom” is unbelievable, missing entirely that the “infantile dependent” was a character Nora played for Torvald."


(This is the sound of my week screeching to a halt, and I read this on a Sunday.)

My theatre history professors were all white men. Hell, my theatre history professor was Oscar Brockett. I teach A Doll's House in my lighting design class. I know this play backwards and forwards. I love this play. I've designed this play. I've analyzed the shit out of this play. The above interpretation is...I mean I need to sit down with him and talk to him. Because he's Robert Brustein. Clearly he must know something I do not. 

Leaving aside the fact that Ibsen was a white man, I find it ironic that this is about a man failing to see that a woman performing femininity is a performance. I've been thinking about this a lot lately in regards to The Lust Experience, because Travis has placed much of what has happened in it and in life in the context of Megan Doesn't Perform Femininity. But I've known female lighting designers who have to perform femininity around all-male stagehands. It's manipulation. It doesn't make it right, but it gets the job done. So much of what women do, like this performing, are basically workarounds, hacks to a system we didn't build. Men aren't always aware. And I frequently don't do those things, usually because I'm too busy reading about things like Brustein's thoughts on women.

One thing I do think, though, is that this is what happens when white men run the place. White men run the theatres, they make up the entire creative team, they write all the books - they assume their lens is the correct one. And it's not a question of fault necessarily, because we all do it, but they forget that women and people of color don't see the world through that lens. Our experiences are frequently different and we have to change and adapt to fit into their worldview. Men have set the bar so firmly to their own standards that we have to recalibrate ours to match. Aziz Ansari. That was sexual assault. But no one wants to admit that they have also been victims or perpetrators of sexual assault because sexual assault is normal sex. That's how common it is. That's the rape culture I'm wading through right now for SLUT.

For (insert number of) years we have lived in a world defined/built/created by men. The word "rape"  was defined by men - it was something that happened to their wives, their sisters - it was that thing that happened in the dark alley with the stranger. A property crime, perhaps. No one wants to admit that rape is a thing they did last weekend. Or last year. Or maybe next week. But things have shifted and women have been defining rape as something that happens to us. A personal crime. A violent crime. And with our first-hand experience of it we can say, it happened last weekend, last year. It might happened next week. It's taking a long time to change the meaning of a word because the word has meant something else for so long. Things that were not rape when our grandparents or parents were young now are. Not because they AREN'T but because the definition has changed. The people defining it have changed.

This is why it's important to have women and POC on your team, as leaders, on your board, as artistic directors, as contributors. Without them, perspectives are missing, people who should be doing the defining of their own experiences are missing. Seasons and storylines and interpretations grow stale. Assumptions are made about the stories that people want to hear.

Assumptions are always made about our stories.
Things aren't heard when we need them to be, because they are outside the listener's frame of reference.
Things we have lived through and experienced are discounted.
Things that we know are threats aren't seen as threats. People frequently "need to see a few more red flags," as one Lust player said a few months ago about an in-game character.

"Who in this room do you want to fuck?"
"Um...no one."

I'm awful at performing but I can smell performing a mile away. It drives me nuts. It has to be real.

I’ve lived my life like some nameless disaster was waiting outside my door,
Well I read the papers and I know what’s coming, the devil who hides in this storm,
but I don’t see nothing round here that’s worth saving, time for one last song

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top Five Works of Art Discovered/Experienced in 2017.

I love writing this every year, trying to recall every piece of art I encountered in the last twelve months. This year, because of the Edinburgh Fringe, I saw a lot more theatre than usual and so there are a lot more contenders to choose from, though not one single Broadway show or David Bowie album (sadly). I think this may actually be the first time that all five actually came from the current year - no books, movies, or albums that I was just discovering for the first time.

1. Andrew Schneider, YOUARENOWHERE

Without a doubt, this has to be number one. I called that way back in January when I saw it. This might be the best theatre I have EVER seen, not just the best this year. Nothing has come close to affecting me the way this did. Of course the recent circumstances (Travis's heart attack) helped tremendously, as well as my love for performance that incorporates technology, David Lynch, and anything that reminds me strongly of Synecdoche, NY. But, god, theatre has never fooled me like that before, never made me feel as though actual physical magic had taken place and I was unaware of it. The best word I have for it is "transcendent," and the best way I can describe my reaction to it is that it wrecked me for days after. You need to go into this show knowing nothing. Not one damn thing about it. I am dying to see his new show, AFTER, at Under the Radar in January but unfortunately can't afford a plane ticket to NYC at the moment. Hopefully it will be at the Walker in January, or somewhere else in NYC when I have more time and money, or maybe in Los Angeles on one of my 97 trips there.

2. Theatre Conspiracy, Foreign Radical

My first show at the Edinburgh Fringe in August, I saw this before anyone else in my company did and spent the rest of our time there nagging everyone to go see it. This was a perfect blending of immersive and political theatre, bringing a subject that affects not-me to an intensely personal level and forcing me to relate directly to it. It's one thing to hear about how the terror watchlist in the United States is used but it's another to have the same tactics applied to you, someone who would (likely) never have to worry about being targeted. One of the brilliant things about immersive theatre, when done right, is how effectively personal it can make any story. Foreign Radical did exactly that because after being introduced to the overall theme, that theme seemingly went out the window to be replaced by a game. By the time it came back around to being serious at the end, I was caught completely off guard and I will never forget that moment. This show wasn't about learning about myself as much as it was learning about others and about my lack of knowledge and empathy, and how I had to change.

3. Darren Lynn Bousman & Clint Sears, The Lust Experience

This feels a bit premature because it is still ongoing, but the damn thing has been ongoing since February and has taken up not only most of my year but most of Travis's as well, by proxy, and has had a massive impact on me. Last year's The Tension Experience was one of the best experiences I've ever had, but it pales in comparison in just about every aspect to what they are doing with Lust. The narrative is stronger, has more complexity, there is a deeper sense of world building and a feeling that we are an intrinsic part of that world (some of us to a greater, more disturbing, less trustworthy extent than others). I am not normally this affected by a piece of art, I am not a paranoid person, I'm incredibly logical and reasonable - but they got me, with a frightening amount of precision. At the recent "Mid-Season Event," Anointment, there was a special invite-only final show in which the performance operated like a giant sandbox: we were allowed to go wherever we wanted, interact with anyone we wanted, and the number of narratives that were taking place simultaneously was astounding. Seeing people piece together their experiences a week later from an event that only ran for four days - with one special performance lasting only one night - has been incredible. And this is a piece of immersive theatre where I am learning about myself, though not exactly pleasant things. It's making me work through things I didn't want to work through, which is not entirely what I signed up for.

4. The Theatre Practice, Blank Run

I saw this performed at World Stage Design in Taipei this past summer, as part of Scenofest. Short, simple, stunning, it's performed in Mandarin (there isn't very much language used at all) without subtitles, and it's largely a movement/video piece in which one performer is literally piecing together fragments of a memory of what happened to her. The brilliance of it to me was the structure used for projection, which allowed the projector to be mounted on a moveable frame (on castors) on which she could hang white articles of clothing. The projector served as a rear projector on these, but the entire structure could be moved without moving the image, because the projector would move with the frame. Put three of these frames together, three projectors, and you have endless combinations of "puzzle pieces" to assemble. The overall piece was haunting, the imagery was stunning, and even though "what happened" was predictable from the start, the way she discovered it was anything but.

5. Penumbra Theatre, Wedding Band

Oh look - an actual traditional play with an actual script on my list! I took my first year students to see this in the fall semester and it was beautiful. I ended up seeing it twice, taking Travis and sitting almost in the front row, which put us smack dab in the middle of the full-on rage scene between Julia and Herman's mother. I loved the discussions my students had about this play, too, and how much I learned from them, because they were so astute when it came to picking up cues from staging and design choices. The acting was phenomenal and the designs were all beautiful, and of course, because I loved it it must have morally grey areas, which of course led to all sorts of lengthy discussions in class. I'm still reading papers the students wrote on it. Of all the plays I took them to this semester this was the one I was looking forward to least, and it ended up being my favorite.

Rambling V: Annihilation

Tarot has come up a couple of times for me lately. I think about the Death card, which isn’t about death at all but about change. There h...