Generosity of Spirit

I’m FINE, How are YOU?

Creating and sharing seems to be fundamental to my well-bing, so I have been challenging myself to do so. This week was particularly focused and full- I wrote an application for a theatre support opportunity- these always leave me feeling a little pumped and a little vulnerable. I made a process video for the CURE for FEAR that experiments with clowning and film- is it still clown if I can’t respond to the audience? I participated in a 5 class comedy writing course, my weekly melodrama zoom class and a continued journey of decolonizing myself. 

How does one decolonize themselves? My own search for answers has me sourcing podcasts, articles, books, music and art from BIPOC communities and allies. Among asking ourselves- Who am I? Where do I come from? And, who are my people? SAMANTHA MOYO (Deepen Your Understanding of Decolonisation) said something that keeps returning to my mind: GENEROSITY OF SPIRIT. I keep thinking of this as I get caught up in petty privileged complaints such as not having enough “personal space”.

  • Who am I? – I am a fifth generation settler living as an uninvited guest on the ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.  I identify as a queer woman and an artist. 
  • Where do I come from? The first settler of my family lineage on Turtle Island married an indigenous woman of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. I was born on the ancestral territories of the Wei Wai Kum peoples which also included the territories of the We Wai Kai, Kwakwaka’wakw, K’ómoks and the Coast Salish peoples. When I opened the website of the Wei Wai Kum it read: “For thousands of years the Wei Wai Kum lived harmoniously with the lands, waters and resources”. 

(I acknowledge that this G3 Grandmother is but one of the folx in my lineage, and I am not NOW claiming to be an Indigenous person. I did a dna test this summer and found that I am a mix of French, German, Irish and English heritage including 2.4% Native American. HI GRANDMA!!!!) Having said that, I AM curious, and am using my imagination and creativity to dream about what it might have been like if settlers harmonized with indigenous ways as opposed to colonizing in patriarchal, capitalist and white supremacist ways.

  • Who are my people? I’m still figuring out this question as it pertains to my ancestors, but I can say that my people are the artists, healers, visionaries and provocateurs.

I’m currently reading and finding much inspiration in a beautiful book titled- BRAIDING SWEETGRASS by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Each chapter gives me new insight- such as a deeper awareness of my relation with EVERYTHING and finding more ways of putting gratitude into action. Mz. Kimmerer writes so poetically eloquent that many of her stories bring tears to my eyes. One chapter titled: Allegiance to Gratitude really nailed it home for me: 

“In consumer society, contentment is a radical proposition. Recognizing abundance rather than scarcity undermines an economy that thrives by creating unmet desires. Gratitude cultivates an ethic of fullness, but the economy needs emptiness.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer- BRAIDING SWEETGRASS

That truth in that paragraph makes me feel a bit nauseous. I’m tired of consumer society. Is it so radical to be satisfied and grateful for what we have?

How do we cultivate an economy of gratitude? 

The first step for me is to slow down. Being on social media somehow gets me all wired up. Taking BIG breaks from it helps me slow down and notice what is around me- colors, textures, smells. Lately I’ve been doing 24 hour social media fasts. I acknowledge that social media and the internet can be a tool as well as a trap. It feels especially hard these days to get off social media when we are cut off from our “real life” social networks. Also, these systems were designed to capitalize on our attention as a commodity.  Ew. 

Let’s make ART. I don’t know about you, but making art helps me process the world. What the hell is going on? I don’t know who or what to believe. I know that I’m wary of folks who claim to “know the truth” about- Covid, a vaccine, trump, a New World Order? – jeeeezus. What I do know is that I must keep my feet on the ground, remain centred, and clear headed. I’ll question everything, thank you very much. #artformentalhealth

This week I am very grateful for the resources to be able to participate in a Comedy Writing Class with Virginia Scott of Movement Theatre Studio in NYC. Holy doodle- not only am I learning so much through doing the assignments but I am once again using the assignments to write for THE CURE FOR FEAR. ACCOUNTABILITY and I are friends. 

I wrote out 3 new scenes for THE CURE FOR FEAR and am going to explore filming them over the next couple of weeks. The writing assignments were specifically on: 

  • GAMES- having the character find a game within the premise. (a game is described as something fun for the performer to accomplish, a problem, a desire- it can be complicated or simple with clear rules for the audience to feel included)

“If the audience is confused, if the audience is thinking, then they are not laughing”

Virginia Scott (paraphrased)
  • A FARCE- Begin with the ending- a scenario of chaos and disaster- and work backwards to the one small thing that began it all
  • An ACT OUT (LAZZO)- where the performer gets to “act out” a story that happened, hope will happen, afraid will happen, a flight of fancy… 

In regards to writing or devising a clown turn or comedy sketch/scene these are the elements that I’m discovering will make it stronger: 

  • A CLEAR PREMISE (who, what, where) 
  • Games (like I described above)
  • Modification to the games-  rhythm, escalation (emotional, intensity) rule of three (where the action gets changed on the 3rd time) break the rules
  • Raise the stakes- how can the whole scenario, outcome become more important (ie: a time limit)
  • A button- a comedic ending (a sort of rhythmic shot) that ties the kaboodle together 

I think the performer’s skill level can make it or break it. It’s been really satisfying for me to analyze what I’m drawn to and why am I drawn to it. I’m finding I like a balance of “aha- I get it”, a sense of seeing myself or something I do or recognize in society, and also, I just LOVE some straight up wackiness that is just plain silly.

I believe that laughter in and of itself is important, AND I am also curious about laughter as a tool for expanding perception. Is looking for meaningful comedy too intellectual? Whatever.. It’s what has ME curious, so that is what I am exploring. 

On a technical note, I’ve been scheming about HOW to make EXCELLENT live stream theatre, or even an EXCELLENT pre-recorded piece of LIVE theatre. I feel that I want to keep it LIVE- otherwise we are making low budget films- which is cool too- but different.

I’m curious how to make live stream/pre-recorded live theatre engaging and 3 dimensional. How to make it SUCK YOU IN and keep you there. I have some ideas, and I’ve also been thinking that maybe I don’t want to give my ideas away. 

Aww.. what the heck, someone else is probably having these same ideas anyway- so here are some ideas that I’m experimenting with in the CURE FOR FEAR

  • A live camera. What I mean by this is a gimbal held camera that has its own planned and practiced choreography in the performance. Ideally, I might like 2 or 3 cameras that can be toggled between- and once again their pathways, written, planned and choreographed into the writing of this show. (Basically creating a LIVE movie.) I’m thinking that my solo show just became a duo show in that the camera eye will now be an important part of the creation and performance. 
  • Interesting spaces. At this point, I’m developing a modular version of THE CURE FOR FEAR that can be performed for pre-recored/live stream, as well as performed in theatre venues with or without the cameras. Currently, I am creating from my home studio, so why not develop something that can be performed from the comfort of my own home? 
  • Partial pre-recorded/edit surreal dream scenes. How about that? Go into the streets and film with my weird puppets and giant costumes being built for Loretta’s world. Go ahead, edit it, add special effects- include surprised passers by. I’m curious about this, and the way it could potentially be slipped into a live stream? 
  • How to clown with an audience when you can’t see/hear or make eye-contact. This is an ongoing conversation and experiment with POUPON PARADE. We are now meeting weekly with film assignments to critique and expand on in a desire to explore clowning for film. I’ve been experimenting with “tickling my own fancy’. In a sense, playing for myself and then responding to my response. Holy shit… is that fucked? Haha. IT’S AN EXPERIMENT!

OK. there you have it. Another week of Decolonizing myself and ART. Here is my weekly list of resources utilized. 

  1. Dance Fundamentals with Laura June- An embodied practice! TOOLS for the revolution! Somato-body-politic, using consent, curiosity, and pleasure as guiding research principles. Designed for small spaces and facilitated over zoom- MONDAYS 6-7 (This series is almost over, but you can still come!)
  2. Have you done the free INDIGINOUS CANADA STUDIES course yet? – Indiginous perspectives on History. This should be taught in elementary and highschools. History is a perspective- why should it be told from the white colonial settler view only? 
  3. I may be late to the party but the Canadian Actor Dan Levy hosted a series of conversations with the professor’s of said Indiginous Canada Course. These videos are wonderful and really make the lessons come to life.
  4. Super cool interactive site where you can find out what Indigenous Territory you are on, or are from! HERE
  5. Movement Theatre Studio- great on-line theatre classes!
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Thank you for reading “THE BONES”- a process report of art and decolonization.

I am currently researching “THE CURE FOR FEAR” – a physical theatrical/ digital arts exploration around the disconnection that occurs from trauma. In a world where the power holders would have us privatize and distrust our feelings in silence and obedience, how does one begin and continue on a journey of decolonization and reconnection? What transformation happens within the psyche as a person emerges from despondency and disembodiment?

I believe in the power of laughter, so, how can one find lightness in the heaviest of topics? How can the subject matter be delivered in a way that surprises the experiencer with their own discoveries?

Always open to feedback if it is constructive and kind. No haters please. candicerobertstheatre@gmail.com

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