The play we're working on right now "The Hunters" touches on these elements - essentially a play about our roles in any given society - the roles others cast us in; and the stories we tell ourselves that we inadvertently cast ourselves in. These concurrent roles play like a loop in the character's lives which inevitably continues this cycle of bloodline and bloodlust. The current Israeli and Palestinian conflict comes to mind. GT offers up her analogy that though this play is a two-hander, it really feels like a Greek tragedy in its scope. The piece tussles with time, where one brother is obsessed, almost crippled by the past, while the other only looks to a better albeit capitalist future. This struck a chord with me. My not too long ago trip to Europe, especially to London and Italy were almost stiflingly reverential homages to the grandeur of history and the individual's insignificance within it, whereas a city like NYC is always looking forward, optimistically (if blindly) prizing the individual's ability and power to shape the future. This dichotomy is never more stark than in the city I grew up in, Singapore, where old colonial shophouses and vestiges of history are razed in the name of grand swanky steel glass and concrete structures that smack of capitalism at its most grotesque. The pace at which this 'cleansing' happens is only matched by their hunger for economic success. The children are rootless, but at least they don't have baggage.
The evening concluded with a screening of "20 Feet from Stardom". Midway through the film, I suddenly felt a deep sense of affirmation and of gratitude. Affirmation that I was exactly where I'm supposed to be at this specific time. There was a time when the call came to my agents out of the blue with the invite to participate in this workshop week that I thought someone had made a terrible mistake. Me? How did my name end up in that hat? But right there, in the middle of the film, somewhere between Merry Clayton's heartbreaking admission that,
“Yes I became frustrated at one time. I said, ‘Damn, the record didn’t go any further than this? What are we doing wrong?’ I felt like if I just gave my heart to what I was doing, I would automatically be a star.”
and a montage of a flock of birds, 'blending' together as one body, and Lisa Fischer saying,
“I wanna be able to walk the streets and not have to worry about putting on sunglasses and tits up in the air — you know, I’m just not feeling that. Some people will do anything to be famous, and then there are other people who just will sing. It’s not about anything except being in this special space with people, and that is really the higher calling to me,”
I looked around the room and I felt, wow, truly humbled by the depth of talent around me. It was affirming because I am finally at a place where I can truly appreciate how rare this opportunity is, and to be immensely grateful for it. No, nobody had made a mistake. I was supposed to be here. Right now. At this moment. It was a palpably spiritual moment. A gentle reminder in a comforting whisper. Perhaps Sting put it best in the film,
"Real musicians—there’s a spiritual component to what they do that’s got nothing to do with worldly success. Their music is much more an inner journey. Any other success is just cream on the cake. There’s this idea that you can go on American Idol and suddenly become a star; but you may bypass the spiritual work you have to do to get there. And if you bypass that, our success will be wafer thin."
The same could be said of artists. Thanks Jim Nicola for this. My cup runneth over.