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Monthly Archives: July 2018

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Friday July 27, 2018, was a full moon. A blood moon. The longest full lunar eclipse of our lifetimes. My friend Nicole suddenly picked up that evening at DCAC for her River She Collective Arts group and decided she wanted to put a program together. She asked me if I would like to prepare anything.

I immediately said, YES!

And over the weeks leading up to this date I cultivated about 15 minutes of solo work for a new piece I’m working on called, “Living and Dying With Tricia McCauley”.

Tricia helped me build several solo shows through the decades. I would write and rehearse myself. Then I would pack up my traveling set, a bar stool, a guitar, whatever it may be, and I would drive in to the DC group house where she lived.

I would set up and perform for her in that living room. She would sit on her couch and watch. And laugh. And then give me feedback. It was very informal. Very friendly.

And, this process was strikingly similar. I felt her with me. Editing. Coaching. Laughing.

Working through trauma consists of a lot of things. One of them is telling the story over and over until you can get your brain to understand that it really happened. So, I initially wrote about a half an hour of work. It was full of every detail from the news and media.

But, I felt her guiding me away from that. Everyone already knows all of that.

I realized that I was dealing with some broadly understood given circumstances due to the wide press coverage of her rape and murder on Christmas 2016. I was completely liberated when I came to an understanding that I could really tell OUR story. I didn’t need to reiterate what was already known. The repetition of that information coming over the airwaves in the initial months re-traumatized many of us over and over. My objective with this work is to liberate and to celebrate. I have no intention to re-traumatize anyone. The power of creating work is intoxicating and this decision was beyond empowering.

My career overall has consisted of creating and producing the counter-narrative to existing (many times well-meaning) oppressive culture narrative.  So, the work came very naturally.

I edited half of the material out. More than half. Then I went back and wrote OUR story. I realized that it was a beautiful story. Seeing the beauty of us was energy affirming. And, breaking in these first 15 minutes in the space where our bond was forged was more than a synchronistic gift, it felt like a holy blessing.

Suddenly my constant state of exhaustion lifted and I was excited each and every day to work on this opening 15. Truth telling is not for the weary. And the truth of the world we were both attempting to create in was something I finally found permission to talk about. Having completed one year of deeply committed Radical Self-Care and going through intensive therapy and recovery programming made it possible for me to even attempt this. It’s been about 14 months since I’ve had any alcohol or caffeine. And it’s been a year of doing Pilates 5 days a week. When my EMDR was coming to an end I decided to keep the structure of radical self-care and make this Pilates commitment.

Already, at each step, disbelief. Shock and disbelief that I could possibly be feeling this good. A year and a half ago, I was not functioning well. Hundreds of people I’ve never met sent so much love, it was a palpable energy and it healed me. Slowly, I’m beginning to understand just how real that healing has been. Each day has come with some tiny miracle. At first, it was just ten or fifteen minutes of not feeling deep pain. Just ten or fifteen minutes of lift. That grew into 1/2 an hour, an hour, a day, several days, a full week. Slowly.

Now each moment of joy I see as a potential option I grab at it. And, this has brought up a lot of Tricia stories in my mind. Silly stories that didn’t seem to mean anything when they were happening. Details.

My big hope is that by sharing these details of our relationship people will come to know and love her spirit outside of anything that anyone ever did to her.

It’s like a dim light is now growing brighter and brighter. She is light.

The name of the program was, “It’s Better to Speak.” This is an Audre Lorde quote.

 

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“When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed, but when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it’s better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.” ~Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

River She Collective Arts gave me the great gift of freedom by asking me to simply show up as a solo artist and perform. Not having to worry about other performers or tech or box office or any of the normal worries I carry producing and directing at Venus, was completely LIBERATING!

The room was full. We were all shocked because this was a first time thing and we’d each created a piece specifically for this night. So, at least for me, I was there to stomp the boards and birth this new baby. I hadn’t thought about people coming to watch the birth too much. All I was thinking about were these 15 minutes. I didn’t even think to snap a picture of the amazing River She women.

I hadn’t been in that space in more than 20 years. Tricia produced me in that space with The Theatre Conspiracy. I was standing in physical space where we worked together. Sacred space.

I could feel her everywhere. Unlike being in my 20’s and worried about everything, I felt so comfortable. So relaxed. So at home. I felt lifted.

Having audience is so essential to building work. And it’s not the producer frustration that makes it key. It’s not the sales numbers that create the tension.

It’s the need to be seen and heard.

We create and we perform so that we can share that experience. Sharing the experience is the third aspect of a three part process. So, when we can’t sell tickets, we lose a third of what we have set out to do. The baby is born into a world devoid of the nurturance necessary for its best growth.

There was none of that worry on Friday night. And the other performers had the most amazing energy. We were standing in shared sacred space.

When I got home last night I took this picture of the moon.

When I woke up this morning, I was in elation. Pure elation. I can see the shape of the entire piece. And, I cannot wait to get the next 15 minutes on its feet.

I don’t ever remember feeling this excited or waking up this happy.

Transformative shift.

I feel deeply that the moon last night shifted us (or at least me) out of Pisces and into Aquarius.  We are leaving the swim-away-from-conflict age and entering the age of transparency and cohesion.

It’s a big shift. It’s a beautiful shift.

I felt it in my bones last night.

I can’t wait to share the story of my friendship with Tricia with more people on Labor Day Saturday at the Kennedy Center’s page-to-stage festival!

I’ll try to share more about my writing and performance process in the weeks ahead.

THANKS TO ALL WHO ATTENDED!

37890770_10215413764030575_5881201308001632256_nPost-show: Karen and I reunite on the DCAC/Conspiracy steps after more than 20 years.