A Shared Table: “Storylab”

In January, 2020, I joined a small group of co-facilitators to plan curriculum for what we intended to be three IBPOC-centered creative lab sessions and a public pop-up for stories to be told, art to be shown, and food to be shared in March and April. Cue pandemic. Co-facilitators and Artists alike pivoted gracefully and exceeded our wildest expectations. We’re now in month 10 of online gatherings for what we affectionately call “Storylab,” sharing life and new and in-progress creative works of all kinds. We are happy to announce the launch of an online exhibit on January 11, 2021!

This community of Artists is balm and magic. Please check out the promo video below, created by the incredible Vuelo con Los Angeles, and follow @asharedtable.ca on Instagram for more information on all of the Storylab participants and the upcoming exhibit!

My creative process was cracked wide open in Storylab by the wisdom and openness of the Artists on this journey. I create work differently now because of them. (IG links in the video post above!) Rafay makes gorgeous music. Rucha is full of deep creativity and a commitment to wellness for self and others. I don’t think there’s anything Sobia can’t do creatively or in any other realm. Sarah puts beauty and goodness into the world.

And dear Co-Facilitators:

Eli Farinango, Kichwa Photographer/Beautiful Human, encourages me to just make things rather than editing and filtering myself before I even begin. I’ve started creating in different media that I was too afraid to choose before my time with her. I encourage a deep dive into her photographic world.

I first heard the rich storytelling gifts of Pat Wright (G’ama Trica) at A Shared Table’s “Sankofa” event in September, 2019. I have benefitted greatly from her creative prompts and guidance about storytelling craft, teaching, and life.

Extra special shout out to Bernadette Arthur, Founder and Chief Experience Officer of A Shared Table. She challenges me to step up in hard, necessary, and beautiful ways, encourages me, and holds me accountable. She also makes me laaaaaaaugh and takes wonder-filled crunchy newfallen snow walks in the woods. It is my deep honour to call her friend.

Joy.

Animated Discussions

I’ve been known to fall down a youtube rabbit hole from time to time. My latest bunny trail began with a repeated viewing of Matthew A. Cherry’s HAIR LOVE, an adaptation of his picture book of the same name. Love, love, LOVE.

Oscar-nominated Animated Short Film HAIR LOVE

In addition to this Oscar-nominated short (fingers crossed for a win!), my providential e-spiral included MOM – A MOTHER, MISSING HOME (tears), THE PRESENT (tears), DESTINY (sighs), and ALIKE.

ALIKE, 2016 Goya Award-winning short film by Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez (update: 23 APR 2020 – no longer available on YouTube)…I feel as if I should show it to people instead of trying to explain why I’m taking my sweet time with There’s an Easy-Bake Oven Where My Heart Should Be. It’s about the same business, just in a different medium. Regardless of our age, we all need freedom of imagination and creativity in order to thrive. I know that I depend on the wonder of children to restore my ability to move through the world with awe and kindness. How do we keep our tiny folks from losing their own access?

Give HAIR LOVE a watch, won’t you? I’d love to talk to folks about it.

May is Busy for Lightbulb Heart!

Books Aloud - Friday Morning Stories

May 10 — I’ll be back at Epic Books for Books Aloud at 10:30AM. Books Aloud is an ongoing Friday morning song and storytime led by the likes of Lisa Pijuan-Nomura, Karen Ancheta, Sue Littleton, and me! Locke St. is under construction, so please leave extra time for parking.

Rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals…

**NEW!** May 19 — promoting the Mind Play Theatre Festival on Centre Stage with Lyla Miklos on 101.5 FM The Hawk

**NEW!** May 21 — Storytime at Donut Monster, 10:30 AM

May 25 — I’m helping to coordinate the First Annual Hamilton Silly Walk. We’ll meet at Gore Park for silly micro-workshops and silly stretching and then silly walk our way to City Hall. My friend Shahzi had the idea for the walk when she saw a news piece about a town in Hungary that does one for April Fool’s Day. We’re doing it to raise awareness of Mental Health Month and for our own sanity. After last summer’s Easy-bake Road Trip, this kind of playing feels like second skin. We’re hoping to expand the event in 2020 to include a full day of silly events. #sillyhamont

May 29 — I start taking a month long Creative Process course taught by Hamilton collage artist and storytelling dynamo Lisa Pijuan-Nomura!

2019MindPlayLogo

May 31 and June 01 — Lightbulb Heart makes its official performance debut at Mind Play Theatre Festival!  Although I’ve been in the theatre for almost 3 decades, this will be the first public performance of work under my own umbrella. I’ll be performing Karaoke Visiting Hour, memoir monologue about the only time I’ve ever sung karaoke and my 12 year boxing match with muscle tension dysphonia. If you want to find out how I’m starting to win that fight, please join me and 6 other companies for Hamilton’s premiere mental health play festival at The Staircase.

Yay, May!

Standing Invitation

I met Stacey Isom Campbell and Lisa Neely sometime in the Spring of 2000. It is a curious and gorgeous thing to be in a room with these women. We have a short-hand made possible by 18 years of intentional relationship and a standing invitation for hospitality, creativity, and vulnerability.  Stacey and I are currently with Lisa in Austin for a 3rd Course: Theatre workshop and presentation of Stacey’s newest play, Buffalo Creek. We gathered for a read-through this afternoon. The play is already so good and I’m excited to see how it grows this week!

Y’all, it’s hot here in Austin. I stepped out of the airport last night and my plane-chilled skin calmed just as my I’ve-been-in-Canada-a-long-time heat headache set in. I only lived in Texas for about 11 years, and never this far east, but it still feels like home. I ran across a packet of dried spices with an H-E-B grocery label on it in the pantry this morning and nearly cried from nostalgia-overload.

I took advantage of the early setting sun and made my way over to Brentwood Neighborhood Park. I counted six families on the playground proper, and there was still a spare swing for me. My hands now smell of sweat and rust, which is the very best way to smell.

In addition to rehearsals this week, I have plans to check out the UT Austin playgrounds (thank you, play researcher/pioneer Joe Frost) and the deeply cool exhibits currently on at the Blanton Museum (Wangechi Mutu’s “The End of eating Everything” – don’t mind if I do). Next week? Another easybake workshop!

Attention Campers:

CAMP AGH
Kelly Wolf, ladies and germs. She’s the best.

If you have never played Human Rock Paper Scissors, you are missing out. Trust me.

When I agreed to meet Kelly Wolf for “crafts” before a dusk viewing of Moonrise Kingdom on Wednesday, I had very little idea of what to expect. Well, EMERGE Camp AGH was a treasure trove of easybakeheart goodness and I was game for all of it.  There were craft tables for making felt merit badges, animal hats, and masks; camp games (I died a glorious slo-mo death on the wet lawn); very high-end s’mores courtesy of the always delightful Sweet and Simple Co.; a tour of the gorgeous Vivian Maier photography exhibit; and campfire singing.

I knew three people. Three. I consider myself an introvert and large groups can be intimidating. But, it was marvelous to be in rooms with a bunch of like-minded weirdos I’d never met and to feel right at home.

img_1065Of course the merit badges I made were random – a dead goldfish in honor of the fish funeral scene from Draft 1 of There’s an Easy-Bake Oven Where My Heart Should Be, and Oscar the Grouch for soooo many reasons. Merit badges are going straight into the easybakeheart workshop idea vault. I found during the Memphis workshop that semi-silently crafting kid things is one of the quickest ways to unlock larger conversations about why we stop playing and what we need in order to start again.

The morning of EMERGE Camp began with an unprompted conversation about how to create spaces for adults to just play – silent or impromptu dance parties, craft stations, reading circles, etc. I went to a Laughter Yoga session later that afternoon that feels like it belongs in the same realm. I’m thinking more and more this is just something our world needs. The Living Arts Collective in Durham, NC hosts The After Wave (adult dance and art party) every Friday night and AGH will have another EMERGE event on December 7.  Go Out and Play!

How are you playing these days? Would it help to have a common space where the materials were already laid out for you? If you’re an introvert, what would make something like this feel less threatening?