Crazy Ideas, Monumental Results: 6 Rules for Maintaining Creative Sanity

Wilhelm Reich, a student of Freud’s and radical pioneer of early psychoanalysis, kept diaries of his observations of the world – often fascinating, often misunderstood – yet still able to influence a number of notable intellectuals from Saul Bellow to William Burroughs. A culmination of his journal entries, letters and laboratory notebooks,  Where’s the Truth?: Letters and Journals, 1948-1957, follows three other autobiographical installments making this book the forth and final collection of his work.

In a particularly thoughtful entry dated June 7, 1948, Reich attempts to distill the six conditions necessary for creative sanity. In so doing he reveals his own doubts and aspirations while painting an ideal portrait of a life with true purpose.

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The last principle is especially moving and an apt reminder that the promise of the “easy life” does not necessarily come from always treading the easiest path.

Prefer Uncertainty, It’s the Only Certain Thing

Advertisements you will never read: Safety Nets On Sale This Week

Life doesn’t publicize the good stuff. Instead it keeps them stockpiled, hidden. Waiting for you to ask if there’s a little something behind the counter that could help you get along.

You won’t find them on the shelves when you scramble around in nervous need. They are the complimentary gift that accompanies a purchase of faith. Grab some and a pack of gum at the nearby all-night mart.

As you cliff dive from uncertain heights, remember that you’ve leaped before. Maybe just over puddles or curbs, but you’ve always found your footing. This time doesn’t have to be any different. Close your eyes and enjoy the fall.

Headlines you might never read: Individual Survives A Personal Crisis. But that doesn’t mean the story’s not worth telling. Or that the net does not exist after all.

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Theatre of Collaboration

“But ensembles, nationally and locally, are able to focus more,and develop a style of working and an aesthetic, and that’s what makes the work exciting. Because of that, it’s reinvigorated the field. I think this is only the beginning.”

– Mark Valdez (executive director of the Network of Ensemble Theatres)

Are the days of the traditional playwright dwindling? Or are we simply experiencing a new wave of exciting ensemble-created work?

When thinking of playwrights, our mind often conjures up an image of a tortured artist-type, hunched over a notebook or a typewriter in a pitiful flat in some remote location, painstakingly trying to pull words from thin air and force them down onto a page. But new works created by groups of creatives are challenging this traditional method of writing.

And who’s to say that a multitude of voices cannot be better than one? Sure the conditions for artistic creation must be reevaluated. What could easily be a case of “too many cooks in the kitchen,” is instead a creative playground, pumping out interesting, group-driven work. When all the members of the ensemble recognize that there must a shift away from ego and towards the pursuit of a higher art, ensemble pieces really shine.

One of my favorite recent examples of groundbreaking ensemble work was The Method Gun at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. The group, Rude Mechs, put together a show that explored the life and techniques of Stella Burden, an revolutionary acting teacher/guru whose method, The Approach (often referred to as “the most dangerous acting technique in the world”), infused even the smallest role with sex, death and violence. The group collected actual journal entries and personal accounts from those in Stella’s troupe in the 60s and 70s in order to create their mystifying show. The Method Gun re-enacts the final months of her company’s rehearsals for their nine-years-in-the-making production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The company’s challenge? To tell this classic without the four main characters. That’s right. No Stella, no Stanley, no Blanche, no Mitch.

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