You walk into a party and the host takes your coat, slings a drink into your hand, introduces you to a few people – makes you feel comfortable, gets you prepared for what the night has in store. Theatrical experiences should be no different. You are already prepared to enter another story for the evening – best to ignite the senses the minute you walk in the door.
The best example I have seen lately was the interactive wonderworld before a performance of The Nether, a show dealing with the danger and imperceptibility of the digital realm and its communities, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
Upon arrival, guests were immediately invited to create their own “avatar,” the ideal virtual version of themselves that would represent them for the evening. There was a pinboard to select your favorite character from a variety of games and online communities. Large glass bowls were set out with titles such “I met someone that I only had ever spoken to online,” and “I have friends that I only know through the internet,” with a bowl of round markers in front that guests could drop into whichever corresponding questions matched their own truths.
Most notably, there was a wall hung with clothesline and a large stack of cards entitled “nobody knows I dream about.” Over the course of the evening, the wall quickly filled with secrets more often left unspoken.
Each game and activity eased you into the experience of The Nether which asked audiences to consider the ways in which we communicate now and notice how the digital world has swiftly become meshed with our own. It offered a stark warning for the future, and most importantly made us feel welcome as we prepared for an entirely new storytelling experience.
How many of us can say that they’ve actually got around to reading Melville’s novel, easily considered a treasure of world literature?
Peninsula Arts with Plymouth University have made the daunting task a little easier with their 21st century-friendly project, the Big Read. Readers such as Tilda Swinton and Stephen Fry embellish a chapter of Moby Dick each with their voice and skill. The project also curated 136 artists to create an accompanying illustration for each of the chapters of the book.
No better way to revisit a classic than by bringing it to the arts-hungry culture in such a digestible format.
Should you need me these next few days, I’ll be diving into these deeper waters.
Officially announced yesterday: ROCKY’s coming to the Great White Way.
Yes, everyone’s favorite “little boxer that could” is getting his chance to belt it out.
Skeptical? No need. The production got rave reviews over in Germany on its first tryout of the material. Features music from Ahrens and Flaherty (Ragtime, The Glorious Ones, Once on this Island) and what appears to be pretty thrilling direction from Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson).
“Yes, there are times when the gold medal only goes to the winner. But not in the race of life, where the winners are those who are superior not to others but to their former selves.” - Robert Cooper
How have you bested your former self lately? How have you strived to learn more and crave less?
Have you checked in with yourself when you heard yourself complaining? Have you pouted at the thought of working harder? Had a First World Problem whinesesh (not the good kind with a cheese plate in tow)? At every moment you have the option to remain static, give up, or move forward. And your path will only be your own.
Empower yourself by winning at your own game everyday. You are your own best competitor.
With Luhrmann’s adaptation about to hit the silver screen, there’s no better time to revisit how others have retold Fitzgerald’s classic American tale. At once a novella about the power of hope and a prophetic story of the end of an era, the The Great Gatsby is still considered one of the best books in the canon of Western literature.
The book exploded off the page in Elevator Repair Service’s marathon retelling. A man in an office sits down, begins reading the book, and 8 hours later (a few intermissions and dinner break included) you emerge from the theatre having utterly steeped yourself in the text. All 180 pages of it.
Take a glimpse of the piece through the eyes of the narrator, Nick Carraway, as Gatsby’s lavish parties transform a dull office setting. The actor who plays Nick, Scott Shepherd, has memorized all 49,000 words of the text.
- Get up early, go sit down and write
- Journal without editing yourself
- Find seeds of great ideas in the piles of subconscious ones you’ve just laid out for yourself
- Repeat until it no longer feels like a chore, but a part of your day you anticipate with excitement
- Continue ad infinitum
- Make time for people that matter to you
- Send a note to let them know you’re thinking about them what big or little life events pop up (“Good luck on that interview!”, “Hope you fly safe!”, “That recipe you gave me is le bomb.”, etc.)
- Show support when good things happen to them, and even more support when the bad sneaks in
- Refuse to let distance be an obstacle. There are a million ways to stay connected nowadays. If Facebook isn’t cutting it for you, agree to start writing each other postcards. No one gets real mail anymore – just think of what a treat it would be to get something worthwhile in the mailbox.
- Continue ad infinitum
- Stop comparing, stop complaining, stop selling yourself short
-Continue ad infinitum
“I am always surprised to see some people demanding the time of others and meeting a most obliging response. Both sides have in view the reason for which the time is asked and neither regards the time itself—as if nothing is being asked for and nothing given. They are trifling with life’s most precious commodity, being deceived because it is an intangible thing, not open to inspection and therefore reckoned very cheap—in fact, almost without any value. People are delighted to accept pensions and gratuities, for which they hire out their labor or their support or their services. But nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing. But if death threatens these same people, you will see them praying to their doctors; if they are in fear of capital punishment, you will see them prepared to spend their all to stay alive. So inconsistent are they in their feelings. But if each of us could have the tally of his future years set before him, as we can of our past years, how alarmed would be those who saw only a few years ahead, and how carefully would they use them! And yet it is easy to organize an amount, however small, which is assured; we have to be more careful in preserving what will cease at an unknown point.
No one will bring back the years; no one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king’s command or a people’s favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside. What will be the outcome? You have been preoccupied while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.
Can anything be more idiotic than certain people who boast of their foresight? They keep themselves officiously preoccupied in order to improve their lives; they spend their lives in organizing their lives. They direct their purposes with an eye to a distant future. But putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately. Listen to the cry of our greatest poet, who as though inspired with divine utterance sings salutary verses: “Life’s finest day for wretched mortals here/Is always first to flee.” “Why do you linger?” he means. “Why are you idle? If you don’t grasp it first, it flees.” And even if you do grasp it, it will still flee. So you must match time’s swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow.”
Known for being a titular Roman figure around 55AD, these thoughts come from his essay “On the Shortness of Life.” Ready, set, grasp the present – for all it’s worth.
Vibrant city-scapes? Lively mix of Eastern and Western tradition and culture? Hundred-year-old temples sandwiched between skyscrapers? Hong Kong – you really do offer a little bit of everything.
Never have I fallen for a city so fast. From first arriving and crossing a bridge into what appeared to be an amalgam of all great metropolises combined, to discovering the islands that make up this energetic hotspot – Hong Kong hooked me early and kept me wanting more.
I’m out and about this week guys, exploring and wandering around a new city. Until I’m back and can tell you all about it, enjoy a little ode to March from master wordsmith Mr. Neruda.
‘March days return with their covert light’
March days return with their covert light,
and huge fish swim through the sky,
vague earthly vapours progress in secret,
things slip to silence one by one.
Through fortuity, at this crisis of errant skies,
you reunite the lives of the sea to that of fire,
grey lurchings of the ship of winter
to the form that love carved in the guitar.
O love, O rose soaked by mermaids and spume,
dancing flame that climbs the invisible stairway,
to waken the blood in insomnia’s labyrinth,
so that the waves can complete themselves in the sky,
the sea forget its cargoes and rages,
and the world fall into darkness’s nets.
I’m out and about this week guys, exploring and wandering around a new city. Until I’m back and can tell you all about it, enjoy the petit posts.
“Is there anything, apart from receiving a large unexpected cheque in the post, to beat finding yourself at large in a foreign city on a fair spring evening, loafing along unfamiliar streets in the long shadows of a lazy sunset, pausing to gaze in shop windows or at some church or lovely square or tranquil stretch of quayside, hesitating at street corners to decide whether that cheerful and homy restaurant you will remember fondly for years is likely to lie down this street or that one? I just love it. I could spend my life arriving each evening in a new city.”
When was the last time you did something out of the ordinary? Shook up your ingrained habits for ones that were foreign to you? Studies show that breaking from your traditional mode is good for the brain – it allows synapses to connect in new ways, gets you outside of your comfort zone, and generally makes you a more well-rounded individual. What’s not to like? But how do you go from indecision to action? Here’s a quick list to start you off:
1. Dig deep to find why the habit has been elusive up until now. You may have continuously told yourself that you’re “not a morning person” or “can’t cook” or “just hate running,” enough that it’s fully reinforced. But is the reason you’re not able to rise early actually because you burn the midnight oil? You sleep poorly? You’re overwhelmed? Bed just feels way too good? ( Understand that last one completely) Unpack why you think that oft-repeated mantra is a fact, and you may just find that it’s much more open to interpretation and ready for change.
2. Set up habit tracker that reminds you to stay on track. My personal favorite is Habit Forge which helps you track new habits for 21-days (the scientifically proven amount of time necessary to implement most new habits). You miss a day? It resets. If you prefer the Benjamin Franklin model of keeping your own notebook to stay on track, give that a go.
3. Get ahead of yourself. If you know you want to accomplish ten little goals tomorrow, give yourself an extra hour in morning, turn off the phone for an hour, carve out some space to get things done. Because that lecture you give yourself when you don’t get through your checklist doesn’t do anyone any good.
4.Break the status-quo. Our minds are often on auto-pilot. Take notice of when you’re about to go down a familiar path, and see if you can find 5 other alternatives. Follow any of them.
5. Make it fun. If life-hacking your way to a more rewarding day-to-day doesn’t sound like an adventure waiting to happen, reevaluate. Make sure you’re looking at the changes as opportunities to grow instead of tasks-you-have-to-follow-or-else. Life’s too short not to enjoy it.