Kristin Berkey-Abbot has an urge to knit.
And I get it. She says that there is a factory that will produce better socks than she could ever knit, but that she has a “yearning” to knit. And, boy, do I get it.
This year I am teaching master classes in the Movement for Stage courses. Using the techniques I learned from Jeff Corey long ago – rooted in method acting, but much saner than pulling your teeth. At least as I teach them as I have come to understand them working with students over the years.
I talk about how words are often rendering of what we want to do. Stanislavski broke it down into thought actions, speech actions, and physical actions. And while I don’t believe these arise in any prescriptive order, physical actions are what the body understands and “feels” regardless of whether the actions are implemented.
I make the students stomp their feet while they say, “NO!”. Repeatedly, then without stomping. The physical truth of the action still lives in the body and the voice as energy. As impulse. It is still communicated.
Right Perspective, Right Speech, Right Actions. In acting, we may not aim for “right” but we aim for “true”.
I tell a student to punch (the hand of) her partner while saying her lines. Then we hold the student back so she isn’t physically able to punch. She uses the words only.
I tell a student to hug her acting partner while saying her lines. We tell her that her partner is inconsolable and the stakes are high. We come with specific scenarios of isolation and despair. Then we literally hold her back from her partner and say, “Hug and comfort them – and say your lines!”
Oh, how we want to hug a whole nation of people right now! Wrap them in soft socks and blankets and give them a cup of hot cocoa and press our cheek into the hair on the back of their heads.
An impulse that bypasses thoughts and words, that first arrives in the body.
“I am here for you.” Though I am not.
So I get it. There is a spot on my body, somewhere near the solar plexus, that rises up in recognition of the urge.
I wish I could knit.
Instead, I will hold this urge and try to let it guide me in whatever I am able to do in the world. And I will not give in to helplessness or misdirect my frustration.
And I will try to acknowledge the truth of my (non)involvement. My ambivalence regarding war. My cowardice regarding violence. My fears for my own nation and family on a cutting edge of the Russian state.
Maybe right now the truth is that I have an eye on Sweden and am saying let’s build a blanket fort right here, we’ll invite Finland and pretend none of this is happening. All of the monsters are locked in the closet. All of the energy disperses through my fingers typing too quickly.
I know that’s not the Right Perspective at all. So I squirm in my chair trying to find a different angle on the situation.
There are those guerilla artists who cover trees in yarn.
Let’s cover Ukrainia in yarn. And Europe and Russia, and the whole bleeding world while we’re at it.
Hug, Squeeze, Pet, Nuzzle, Embrace, Swaddle, Clasp, Cuddle… Hold.