Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Right to Hate

IMG_6539​On Sunday night we had an intriguing dialogue with Rev. Lillian Daniel, Rabbi Evan Moffic, Fr. Michael Sparough, Niala Boodhoo, and Sr. Danielle Dwyer at Mayer Kaplan JCC in Skokie. The conversation took an interesting turn when two of the panelists seemed to have a disagreement about whether or not we have the right to hate.

Hate is a tricky thing. It comes naturally and it is easier to start hating than it is to stop. But the real crux of the question was do we have the right to feel hate, or to choose it and act on it.

Shylock chooses to act on his hate and in the end, he is the one who loses the most. He IMG_6792had a right to his hate, his feelings are justified, but for him, and for us, to choose to stay in hate is a choice for our own destruction. As Fr. Matt Malone quoted Richard Nixon on a New York panel, “Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.”

Freeze and Thaw

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On the 33rd floor of our hotel, it didn’t look so bad out. So, on our first morning in Chicago I geared up and went for my morning run. By the third block, I realized that was a mistake, seeing that I could no longer feel my toes and that nobody else was around except a couple of desperate dog owners!

By the time our afternoon rehearsal came, I had thawed and was looking forward to learning how a new environment could help me grow with my character. After performing an abbreviated form of the play, I’m looking forward to living the whole story. There is always something new to discover. The text can come more naturally with time, but living with a character is like any relationship, it fluctuates and new layers are revealed. And it takes work!

So, here’s to a new city and experience!
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Big City, Amish Country

The past two days were travel days, heading from NYC to Chicago – stopping half way in Mercer, PA.  Going from Times Square to Amish Country was a large and somewhat welcome shift. 

 

Seeing the Amish buggies got me thinking about the Amish people and how their core values center around the process of submission or “the offering up of oneself”.  I realized that that is really no different from the job of an Actor.  I am learning more and more working with Elements Theatre Company that in order to truly “submit” to the story on stage, the actor must “get out of the way” or yeild yourself in a way.  And only then are the real truths communicated through the production.  Interesting.  We are only in PA for one night but I think I will take a page from the Amish way of life – look out Chicago!

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Leaving the Big Apple for the Windy City

Hard to believe that the first portion of Elements’ 2015 Pound of Flesh tour is over. Yesterday we started the trek out to Chicago, and the hours in the car gave us ample time to ponder the events of the past two weeks in Manhattan.

IMG_5898We love New York for many reasons, not the least of which are the many, many friends and kindred spirits that we have found in the city over the years. While this tour gave us a chance to reconnect, it also led us to many new places and faces, beginning with the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The space is infused with history; just walking into the auditorium, you can’t help but feel that it demands a certain level of respect and attention. Mindful of this, and of the panel discussion that would close the evening, we were eager to bring our very best to this first performance of scenes from Merchant. As we trusted they would, Shakespeare’s words provided plenty of fuel for a dynamic and generous discussion between the audience and our distinguished panelists.IMG_6033

Elements’ ongoing charge of “education and conversation” continued with two Sonnet Workshops at the 92nd Street Y. A small group of Shakespearean language lovers gathered to delve deeper into the Sonnets, specifically exploring those that related themes from Merchant of Venice.

The Tishman Auditorium at The New School provided the next frontier for Merchant – this time including two full performances of the play. While the auditorium itself is not used for theatrical events, we found both the space and our hosts at the school very welcoming. Again, the Bard’s genius in exposing the heart of humanity brought many thoughts, reactions, and questions to the fore in the two post-show discussions.

A few days later and a few streets over, through the “rabbit hole” of the Everyman Café, Elements took up residence for a day in the intimate and gracious setting of the Classic Stage Company. As CSC is currently running A Month in the Country, we were unable to give a full performance of Merchant. Instead, we presented scenes from the play in Readers’ 16495440632_87146bd631_kTheatre style—a tradition begun in New York, and sometimes referred to as “theatre of the imagination”—again paired with a panel discussion. It was clear from the beginning of the performance that this was an audience that was ready to get down to business. The multi-faceted conversation afterward touched on everything from Shakespearean scholarship to questions of religion and faith raised by the play.

Our final performance in Manhattan fittingly took place at St. Malachy’s – the Actors’ Chapel—just off Times Square. That evening we presented a completely different show, juxtaposing Christ’s trial scene from The Trial of Jesus by John Masefield with IMG_6424Antonio and Shylock’s trial scene from Merchant of Venice. The conversation afterward took on a slightly different tenor, and ended with Portia’s “quality of mercy” speech – which in this setting almost turned into a prayer.

It’s easy to feel intimidated in New York. But even in the midst of these great minds and great spirits, we felt only genuine respect, and a mutual hunger for deep, honest, and life-giving discussion. We cherish these new relationships, and look forward to meeting again.