Starting the Experience at the Door: Theatrical Hors D’oeuvres

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. IMAG1951

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.

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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.

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Bite-Sized Wisdom: Cervantes

It’s amazing how the “luckiest” people you know are also the ones that put themselves out there, try that extra time, and seize every opportunity that comes their way. Funny how that works.

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“Never stand begging for that which you have the power to earn.”

– Miguel de Cervantes 

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Why Cultivate Creativity

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Bite-Sized Wisdom: Andrews

Bite-Sized Wisdom: Andrews

Bite-Sized Wisdom: Cummings

In addition to his renowned poetry, Cummings also dabbled in painting, writing, and playwriting. From a man who knows the joy of going against the grain:

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“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

– e. e. cummings

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Because Lifes Too Short Not Too

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Being An Amalgam of Those Around You Doesn’t Mean You Cant Still Be You

Being An Amalgam of Those Around You Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Still Be You

How to Be Kind to Yourself

How to Be Kind to Yourself

When All is a Blur of Thoughts and Sound and Choices, Choose Music

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Current recommendations:

I Have Your Heart / Put the Gun Down / Les Plus BeauxJealous of the Moon / An Ending (Ascent)

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Bite-Sized Wisdom: Ibsen

Never fight a challenge. You’ll be glad you confronted it one day.

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“The spectacles of experience; through them you will see clearly a second time.”

– Henrik Ibsen

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Bite-sized Wisdom Tharp

Bite-sized Wisdom: Tharp

10 Things You Should Start Doing Right Now

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Why Wait Live Now

Why Wait? Live Now

Bite-sized Wisdom: Saint Exupery

Why resist change when it could promise some of the best new moments for you? Here’s to always coming to know ourselves better.

“A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.”

– Antoine de Saint Exupery

 

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Bite-sized Wisdom: Ailey

The next time you’re feeling blocked, remember that you are on your own side. You have created, you will create again. The key is love for what you’re doing.

“The creative process is not controlled by a switch you can simply turn on or off; it’s with you all the time.”

-Alvin Ailey

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Bite-sized Wisdom: Copland

Music is the great uniter, bringing together people and cultures in a language all its own. What musical favorites from other countries have you discovered and fallen in love with as of late?

“So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it and give it expressive meaning.”

-Aaron Copland

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Bite-sized Wisdom: Tharp

Whatever you’ve been through, whatever your story may be, know that giving up only hurts you. But believing? Oh, that’s where the good stuff happens friend.

“Optimism with some experience behind it is much more energizing than plain old experience with a certain degree of cynicism.”

– Twyla Tharp

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Because Life’s Too Short Not To

When in doubt, remember:

Laughter heals. Embarrassments, heartaches, confusion, or whatever else may ail you. A good laugh can help combat that ever-present need to take yourself too seriously. A healthy dose of humor will always come in handy.

Apologize. Not for being yourself, but if you actually make a mistake – big or small – take responsibility and make the first step towards salvaging the relationship. Don’t let the ego get in the way of the bigger picture. Your pride is not as important as the person you hurt.

When you have no control, let go. Nothing will drive you crazier than trying to fix what cannot be fixed. Realize that some things will remain unchanged. And then let it roll off your back. Focus on the aspects of life that are adjustable. There’s a freeing feeling that accompanies the realization that the world does not, in fact, revolve around you. And that’s okay. It’ll keep on spinning, and so will you.

Bite-sized Wisdom: Williams

I have often considered playwrights to be some of the world’s most perceptive individuals. Tennessee doesn’t prove me wrong:


“A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.”

– Tennessee Williams

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Love Lessons from Stoppard

From “The Invention of Love,” a play in which Stoppard focuses on Latin-scholar Housman’s life and his relationships with his peers and professors (including Pater, Wilde, and Ruskin).

He postulates on the catalysts for this crazy little thing we call love:

“They loved, and quarreled, and made up, and loved, and fought, and were true to each other and untrue. She made him the happiest man in the whole world and the most wretched, and after a few years she died, and then, when he was thirty, he died, too. But by that time Catullus had invented the love poem.”

A great deal of the play concerns itself with the importance of education – even outside of the typical confines of the university. This passage is easily one of my favorites:

“The Renaissance teaches us that the book of knowledge is not to be learned by rote but is to be written anew in the ecstasy of living each moment for the moment’s sake. Success in life is to maintain this ecstasy, to burn always with this hard gem-like flame. Failure is to form habits. To burn with a gem-like flame is to capture the awareness of each moment; and for that moment only. To form habits is to be absent from those moments. How may we always be present for them?—to garner not the fruits of experience but experience itself?”

This play was another one of my gifts from the holiday season. While not as famous as some of his other works (Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead), I’ve found it to be immersive and quite moving. If you’re in the mood for an intellectual and imaginative journey with Mr. Stoppard, this one is a good bet.