Repping the female directors of Broadway today with a little wisdom from Susan:
“Whenever I found myself in a conundrum I looked to my father for advice. And always he offered the same encouragement: ‘Ask yourself, What’s the worst that could happen? Someone might tell you no, but there’s no harm in that.’ Just take a chance. Ask the question.”
A young Ian McKellen works through a line from Merchant of Venice in the RSC’s Playing Shakespeare from a few decades past.
The director seen here, John Barton, was asked to write a book about his robust knowledge of the Bard but promptly refused, stating that it was impossible to talk about Shakespeare without having living, breathing actors available to demonstrate the subtleties and poetry of the text. The result is a party full of some the acting greats taking apart classic texts piece by piece and uncovering centuries worth of subtext in the process.
While this Ionesco absurdist turn is classically difficult to dramatize, the meat of the play is one of my favorites to unravel. It explores the negative consequences of groupthink and implications of a society ruled by fear, but marries these ideas with the impossible, the zany, and yes, the absurd.
The central character Bérenger, a mild-mannered self-deprecating everyman, struggles as he watches all the people in his small town turn into Rhinos. (Yes, really.) Upon his writing, the rhinos were meant to signal the communist and fascist movements that exploded in the years before World War II. But today the play reads as a clever exploration of a number of other movements including the far-right Tea Party, Scientology, and other niche groups. The addicting domino-effect of adopting the traits and mindsets of those around you to fit in or to escape judgement serves as a stark reminder to maintain one’s personal truths. Even when the tide has swept away those around you, hold tight. One person can be enough stand against the masses.
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.
Having just finished The Empty Space, figured it was about time to share some of this man’s intuitive insight. Let time be a friend, a force for good in all that you do.
“Time, which is so often an enemy in life, can also become our ally if we see how a pale moment can lead to a glowing moment, and then turn to a moment of perfect transparency, before dropping again to a moment of everyday simplicity.”
A few years ago, illustrator Eric Smith was diagnosed with three different types of cancer. Instead of labeling his experience as a negative one and resisting the situation, he embraced it in effort to seek out harmony in his life.
“Having my physical life threatened, provoked within me a strong separation between my spiritual and physical being. Although my physical body was being attacked … my spiritual essence was untouchable.”
Before, he was cruising along through life. His diagnosis challenged him to make a conscious effort to recognize the gift that the situation had given him – the ability to live in and through each and every moment of his life. It led him to launch the Live Now Project – a community of artists that collaborate and share their message through art, storytelling, words of wisdom and more. And oh, what a wonderful message it is.