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Where Are Our Stories? March 27, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Art, Changing Perspectives, Healing Stories, Life, Music, One Hoop, Suffering, Wisdom.
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Many blessings to all, and especially to those observing Lent or Great Lent!

“Two years of COVID-19 have dimmed people’s senses, narrowed people’s lives, broken connections, and put us at a strange ground zero of human habitation.

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What seeds need to be planted and replanted in these years, and what are the overgrown, invasive species that need to be fully and finally removed? So many people are on edge. So much violence is flaring, irrationally or unexpectedly. So many established systems have been revealed as structures of ongoing cruelty.”*
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– Peter Sellars, Theatre, Opera and Festival Director, World Theatre Day Message Author 2022

During a really lovely conversation with one of my yoga-buddies, she shared her father’s view of modern politics and politicians. It’s a view very similar to the view of life that William Shakespeare shared in As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” I can, unfortunately, see that in a way I never could before these last few years. However, when it comes to referring to certain television pundits as entertainment I have to push back. For sure, the people in question are not journalists – even when they are considered by some as a primary source of news. But, as someone who spent twenty-plus years in the performing arts and entertainment industry, I get a little prickly about the comparison.

And this is where I (kind of) get caught in my own logic.

Entertainers tell stories. They tell our stories; as art imitates life. Sometimes they tell us stories of people we’ve never met and will never meet, but immediately recognize. Sometimes they tell us stories in a way that allows us to recognize ourselves, maybe even in a way we never would have without the fourth wall. Entertainers tell the stories of the world. And live theatre is a collection of archeologists, sociologists, and psychologists – tossed together in a social experiment-cum-ritual.

You may look at the above description and, while thinking of certain political pundits that I may or may not have been alluding, think, ‘Well, that description kind of fits.’ Except – and this is a big caveat – when we show up to watch theatre, we consent to be part of the social experiment, part of the ritual. We show up with the intention and expectation of being amused (which is part of the original meaning of the word “entertainment”). We show up with the intention and expectation of focusing and paying attention to the ideas and stories presented before us (which is also part of the original meaning). We show up planning to have our emotions manipulated.

In fact, that is part of the ritual, part of the original meaning of the word “entertainment,” and part of the social contract when we come together (even virtually): The performers will make us feel a certain way in order to make us think a certain way. As we feel and as we think, we also start to process our stories and the stories around us.

Theatre, like journalism, comes with a certain responsibility. So, while I can (unfortunately) see how politics is theatre and people sometimes consider political pundits entertainers, I push back out of respect for all those professionals entertainers who take on the responsibility, because they understand the power of art to inform as well as to amuse. Today, which is World Theatre Day, I also celebrate those professionals – onstage, backstage, and in the front-of-house – who help us make sense of ourselves and the world around us. Theatre is one of our universal rituals and today, maybe more than ever, we need our rituals.

“Where are our ceremonies of remembrance? What do we need to remember? What are the rituals that allow us at last to reimagine and begin to rehearse steps that we have never taken before?
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The theater of epic vision, purpose, recovery, repair, and care needs new rituals.”

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– Peter Sellars, Theatre, Opera and Festival Director, World Theatre Day Message Author 2022

Please join me for a 65-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Sunday, March 27th) at 2:30 PM. You can use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

Sunday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “04242021 All Sides of the Story”]

NOTE: Due to artist protests, one song may not play on Spotify. As I support artists in their efforts to bring about change, I am not re-mixing affected playlists.

This is my third blog post about World Theatre Day. You can click here to check out the 2020 post, which includes a bit of history about the day and a little political history about today’s date. You can click here to check out the 2021 post, which includes a more yoga-based take on the day and an Easter egg about my theatre past. Click here to read this year’s World Theatre Day message in its entirety and to check out the virtual celebration.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

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### Mono no aware ###

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