What kind of dreamer am I? (UBC #7)

It’s been, um..hmm…ah..brought to my attention that I’m a dreamer. Often. I’m either living in Stu’s Perfect World (which, really, is a very nice place to live in. Really. I would not lie to you.) or I’m in this world, wanting to let all the barriers that separate this entire world from  functioning together, not as combatants, competitors, foes, the “I’m right…you’re wrong!” mindset.

I am the dreamer that would love to LIVE in the world of  “Imagine”.

Naivete? Well, better that then be bogged down in constant hatred, mistrust, seclusion, distancing, fear, loathing (thank you Hunter: the words fit so well together), and all the other things we surround ourselves about the OTHERS.  Being rich does not make you a better person then anyone. Being of a certain type of religion or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation or race or nationality DOES NOT MAKE YOU BETTER.

What you do, what you are, as an individual matters. That’s what makes you…you. Better may be the wrong word, because it again puts that person on another level, and if we were all on a level playing field in all ways…Imagine.

Thanks to both Jeremy’s and Tori’s blog writing for the Ultimate Blog Challenge (and man, am I glad I joined this. connecting with some really neat people. Yes..I said neat. Get over it!) for giving me the jumping off point for today’s offering for the UBC. Read and follow them. It’ll do you good.

Speaking of following, I might as well plug my other blog: Tale Spinning. I’ve linked that one to the A to Z Blog Challenge. I am attempting to write one long story, about 250 words a day or so, until I finish with the letter Z. I have no idea where it’s going yet. Being in the moment is a good thing, as well as goal setting and planning. As long as I’m plugging, if you ever are in need of a Storyteller or Teaching Artist of Creative Drama, take a gander at BornStoryteller, my website. I’m also good at collaborating, so, keep that in mind.

Please let me know what you think. And…

What kind of dreamer are YOU?


Theater Workshops: Process over Substance?

A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.

~ Joseph Stalin ~

I just came home from a wonderful weekend, leading some truly amazing students at the New Jersey state Thespian Festival, held at Kean University. What was wonderful about it was seeing teenagers so truly invested and passionate about Theater Arts:  Actors/Actresses, Singers, Dancers, Tech Theater, Directors/Stage Managers,  Clowns, Storytellers and more.  The teachers and parents I met, and the many workshop presenters, are just as committed to the enrichment that these students are embracing. Kids they may be in age (especially to us older folk) but I saw a lot of brilliant young adults emerging.

So..why the quote? I go to my home page, and that quote was waiting for me, one of many randomly generated quotes I’m met with daily. I found this same quote when I was doing research for my play, “everywhere I look…”. The play, about my father’s few stories of before and after being in Auschwitz, a Nazi Concentration Camp (with even fewer ones from his three years inside the camp),  was a jumping off point for deeper research into the too numerous genocides and atrocities and oppression  that have afflicted us over the last 100 years, and are still growing strong.

So..the quote. (You will notice, if you’ve read me enough, for some reason I like the words So and Now…and I love ellipses, as you can see).  The quote stopped me dead in my tracks because Theater has been used throughout theater history not just as an entertainment, not just in educational entertainment (naysayers begone), but also as a political tool, a rallying cry for justice. We saw a tremendous amount of political theater grow in the ’60s, we have the work of Augusto Boal and his work with breaking symbols of oppression and giving voices to the oppressed, and there are other examples.

And I realized: looking through the program, maybe ONE of our workshops (I was one of  the workshop presenters) even came close to approaching anything in that vein. Yes, there was a tremendous amount of critical and creative thinking, honing talents for both on and behind the stage, a sense of Yes You Can and striving for personal success, building confidence, finding and making  connections to real life situations, and more more more.

Should the more “serious” side that theater can present, of creating thought, exploring other Points of Views, more ground shaking work exist at a Theater Festival for High School students? Is there enough time to shake them up in a one hour, maybe one and a half hour workshop, with only a weekend to grab the students and observe them “getting” it? If there is, and if we should…why aren’t we?

Japan’s earthquake just happened (and, before I got home to the quote, I listened to the news). Darfur is still happening. Libya has been designated as going through a full civil war. We are going through our own “uncivil” war of ideologies and needs and wants for the people of this county.

One person’s story, with name, photo and such, becomes something we can all recognize and empathize with. Hundreds if not thousands dead, thousands of people wondering how they will be able to survive (in earthquake destruction, genocide annihilation, or fascist underpinnings of democracy) … what are we responsible for in making things just statistics?

I had one director tell me, when I brought this item up in my play, that he/she can not be concerned about empathizing about others like I was asking in the script. Obviously, we had two very different opinions on this subject.

For me, I know I’ll be proposing in the future to run more then a character development or Shakespeare workshop. Global issues are important, and it’s so easy to forget them when you are having such an amazing time, in an amazing atmosphere. I just kinda feel we also need to challenge more then we do.

OK..done. What do you feel?

Blast from the Past: A benefit against Hate Crimes from the Improv Community

I JUST found this posting on a site called Zoom. I did not even see the write up that they posted until just now.  Almost twelve years later, and I still can’t figure out why I and others let this drop by the wayside. Maybe now, more then ever, with all the rampant hatred going on, it’s time to revive the idea. “Grass Roots” performers all over, not just the celebs.

BTW..the article got it a bit wrong. There were 54 troupes in 24 States who joined in on the benefit. Not a big deal, but…think of it then. This was all started through the alt.com newsgroups, and then we all moved to a chat room I hosted on AOL way back when. I was ranting about the shooting of a Jewish Day Care Center in CA and the face of evil (only way I saw it) on the news of the captured gunman. For those who don’t remember, or weren’t born yet: he did not kill anyone, he only thought so. He was SMIRKING to the cameras, and he thought he killed 2-5 year olds and the staff.  If that’s not evil…

So…read away. Contact me if you want to revive this idea. It’s easy for us to mouth off on FB or whatever. What are you willing to do to fight it? Albert Einstein said it best:

The world is a dangerous place to live – not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. – Albert Einstein

Here’s the article. I guess it’s better late then never: Thank you!

Don’t Hate Us Because We’re Funny
yesand.com, 17 Feb 1999 [cached] 

Stuart Nager, director of The Brothers Grinn, organized this event only in mid-August of this year. 

Others wishing to get involved, particularly in those cities not yet represented should contact Stuart Nager via email.
Turn Off the Violence – Funding the campaign
http://www.turnofftheviolence.org, 21 June 2001 [cached] 

In fact, it was the smirk on his face that outraged a New York man, Stuart Nager, into action.
Stuart Nager, director and founder of The Brothers Grinn, a New York State based improv company, took action the best way he knew how… by contacting his colleagues across the country and asking them to participate in a benefit for violence prevention.He named the event “Don’t Hate Us Because We’re Funny: The Improv Theater Community’s Benefit Against Violence & Hate Crimes.” Seventy troupes across the country did benefit performances in mid-November and sent their proceeds to violence prevention projects.
The five troupes shown below selected Turn Off the Violence as the organization to which their funds would go.We have used their contributions to purchase Adobe Acrobat software that will enable us to make our Educators Guide and other materials available on this website. This is another example of how all of us can use our time and talents to help “turn off the violence.”Thank you to Stuart Nager and the following improv troupes!
The Brody Theater in Portland, Oregon
The Chainsaw Boys in Brooklyn, New York
The Sunday Night Improv in New York City, New York