I’ll know by Monday whether I can leave for India after New Year. I’m waiting for funding. For permission to take a very short leave of absence.
I haven’t been excited about it. I have sent emails. Checked to see if my vaccinations are up to date. But I haven’t hoped really. I’m still waiting for approval. Waiting for someone to say: this is a good idea; this you should do; this you can do. I am trying to sort all this out in my head – how my suppression of enthusiasm is related to everything else in my life.
I blame all those mailers I got in college saying I was “pre-approved” for credit; a kind of freedom/privilege and a god-awful pressure to meet expectations as a consumer. A glowing letter of recommendation opens a door but demands a tap dance.
What if I don’t learn anything in India? What if my head just keeps spinning and I interrogate every bit of inspiration to root out potential cultural appropriation as an exercise in avoidance?
I just gave a brief lecture to the students last week about procrastination and the theory of immunity to change. How we would rather take an incomplete than a failing grade. Even when failing is the only option for a second chance to pass.
That is the daily dose of naval gazing.
The Process Journal
I have six more scenes to write for the students. We did a read-through of the first two acts yesterday and I’ve never had a class so skilled at improvisational translation. I’ve never had a class approach one of my scripts with such trust. The characters they created are my puppets at this stage. I am very curious about how this project will turn out. We talk about working outside/in or inside/out as actors. Which (in my opinion) isn’t a real thing anyway. Here the students and I seem to be playing a game of tennis to make the characters come to life. They give, I give. I am not sure why this year, this project, seems so different. More collaborative in spirit, though not in fact.
After New Year, they’ll begin to work to embody the characters. Some scenes will be Brecht-inspired (as is the entire play). So embodied in the way that a sock puppet is embodied by a hand. In other scenes, I will ask them for an abstraction of the character’s movements where the essence of the character is disembodied. And in some scenes, I will ask for more. I will ask them to invest in “physical action” until it they begin playing the way a professional tennis player handles herself on the court. Flowing seamlessly between the mind and the body. Maybe one could say in this case the minds and the body.
That’s a lot put on their shoulders.
The thing is: how you do give someone pre-approval without creating daunting expectations?