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
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!
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, a 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.
Lightbulb Heart has been officially accepted as a participant in the Mind Play Theatre Festival 2019! Mind Play Theatre Festival is Hamilton, Ontario’s premiere mental health theatre festival. I was delighted to work front of house for the Festival in 2018 and I am thrilled to present my newest work there this summer.
Karaoke Visiting Hour is a memoir monologue about losing and finding one’s voice in an unlikely place (content is not suitable for tiny people).
More details about the Festival and Karaoke Visiting Hour forthcoming!
I could not have asked for a more compassionate group of participants for the easybake workshop on October 15. Austin sent us a sudden cold snap and copious amounts of rain, so we opted for a furnace and sock-feet indoors, and relatively laidback activities. As with all easybake workshops, we started and ended by defining “play.” We stretched our bodies to Up, Down, and Other Opposites(Ellsworth Kelly), warmed our emotions to easybake standby In My Heart: A Book of Feelings (Jo Witek), and settled in for a bit of play.
Sitting with our younger selves
Our eight participants brought two pictures of themselves:
between 2-7 years of age, something either naturally expressive or goofy/playful
at an age where they could have used some self-compassion or from a time of transition
We sat with the “Child” picture and adopted the posture of the kiddo in the photo. Where did their bodies hold tension; freedom? I asked some sense memory questions, and we did the who/what/where part of the three-column Adult Meets Child Self-Care exercise. Finally, we interacted as our Child-selves with inanimate objects. Next, we looked to the “In-Need-Of-Love” photo and did the same exercises with that kiddo/person in mind. We then discussed the similarities and differences between the experiences of adopting our Child and In-Need-of-Love postures.
Three sheets of poster board, three colors of post-it notes, lots of love.
How have you shown compassion to others? Write two examples on yellow post-its and put them on the first poster board.
How have others shown compassion to you (whether or not it you received it well in that form)? Write two examples on green post-its and put them on the second poster board.
How do you prefer to receive compassion? Choose from the existing yellow or green, and/or create new pink ones to add to a third poster board. (I loved that the resulting array was a fairly even mix of how we naturally show compassion to others, how we have received it in the past, and new ideas – something we didn’t have time to talk about is how we could best communicate how we’d like to receive compassion moving forward.)
After we had a spread of compassion answers, we split into pairs. One person adopted their “child” posture and the second took their “in-need-of-love” posture. Child then invited In-need-of-love to play. If they had trouble interacting, In-need-of-love was encouraged to choose a compassion post-it to give Child ideas as how to best invite them into playing.
The last thing we did before redefining play was to find our resting Adult posture. Where do we usually hold tension; freedom? We split up into pairs between Child and Adult and invited each other to play, using the compassion post-its when necessary.
A way forward
I’ve been home from Austin for over a month and have been stewing about process and participation. I’ve also been putting off writing about it because I’m a tad stuck as to what happens next. Easybake-as-workshop and easybake-as-project have started taking up separate living quarters in my brain. While the workshops are still incredibly valuable to me in terms of the project, they also feel as if they could have a continuous life after the project ends. That said, I need to bring other people into the planning and execution process. Sitting with one’s childhood experiences can be both meaningful and fraught with the possibility of retriggering traumas. Certainly, there are areas I will explore in easybake-as-project where I need someone trained in dealing with personal and interpersonal violence just to keep me sane while I explore and write and perform. Why would I want to lead a group of others over similarly treacherous ground without a trained professional in the room to help us all through?
I’m not sure what all of this means just yet in terms of a way forward. In the meantime, I continue to be thankful to all of my easybake workshop participants for their generosity of time and spirit, and for being endlessly kind with me and others in the room. It gives us all compassion and permission to play.
Danielle Chelles, Emily Hill, Jessica Flemming and I were joined by 23 audience members for the first draft of There’s An Easy-Bake Oven Where My Heart Should Be. We presented 30 minutes of material exploring how and why children play (playing at being adults, learning to jump rope, self-soothing), why they stop (shame, grief), and Emily threw a whopper of a tantrum that makes me grin whenever I think about it. I took feedback on construction paper while everyone partook of childhood snacks (goldfish crackers, string cheese, fruit snacks, and juice pouches). I’m so thankful to those 3 and those 23, and to fellow Summer Sisters Cheryl Chamblee and Sharon Eisner who contributed writing and Rachel Klem who helped shape the group scenes. I’m really proud of what we developed in such a short amount of time! Some of the material will go back to the drawing board, other things will be lovingly scrapped in favor of Ontario-based stories, and some bits were really magical and you’ll have to pry them from my easy-bake heart with tweezers before they leave the piece.
I am notorious for being too present in the moment and not taking enough photographs. Draft 1 was no exception. I have video for review purposes, but completely spaced grabbing a pic with my amazing artists! Please enjoy this freeze-frame…
Now that I’m back in Ontario, next comes unpacking the emotional parts from which the piece derives its name. I received my 1978 Easy-Bake Oven while I was still in NC and to say I was underwhelmed would be an understatement. So light, so small, so insubstantial. Not at all the thing I remember from my childhood. A to-scale-with-adult-sized-Amber papier-mâché recreation may be in order.