Monday, August 17, 2009

The Good Body

I have been thinking about creative communities. How charged and comfortable and intimate and fractious and intense they are. When I worked for Eve Ensler, (I worked with her in London and New York and on tour with The Vagina Monologues and for VDAY and then was her dramaturg throughout the writing/workshopping of The Good Body) there was a wonderful sense of group effort. It was crazy. Long hours, fall down exhaustion, total absorption, one track mind crazy. But I loved it.

I loved the rhythm of rehearsing, writing, watching Eve go out on stage to try out the new lines she had just learned (we would still be running through new lines on our walk from the hotel to the theatre-she was amazing), and going up to the tech box with Arabella to furiously take notes through the whole show, and then meeting up afterwards to start writing again, sometimes until 3am. Eve's energy, enthusiasm, commitment and joy were boundless. I have no idea where she found the stamina to work like she did and then perform the show. My energy curiously seemed to be recharged by watching early morning episodes of Dawson's Creek and eating pineapples.

It was a community. We were together all the time. Peter (director), Arabella (stage manager), Tony (VDAY) and me. The constant current running through all our interactions was the show. There was an excitement and a family feeling of togetherness in a strange city (Seattle).

In the last few years, writing in Kauai, my thoughts have returned again and again to that time. To the familiar, rituals, cadence and short-hand speak of a creative community. Asking Tony whether he thought the obscure vegetable we use should be chard or kale; Eve reading bits aloud to wonderful Alison in the NYC office; Arabella giving Eve her calls to get onto the stage, the absurd giggling of the collectively exhausted. It was such fun.

On Kauai I teach and freelance edit but for the most part my writing life has been a solitary process; solitary with the exception of my ever patient editor mother who hears every word down the phone multiple times a day and sees every draft, bless her. My friends cheer me on but the day to day life in my head is mostly private. When asked how it is going I answer in broad generalities. Michelle is pleased for me when it is going well but not included in my worry that a pair of dancing slippers should be cherry red rather than scarlet. I have been thinking about that time of group enterprise and I realise now how very happy it was.

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