Yet Another Similarity Between Theatre and Church…

Churches and theatres across the country share a common phenomenon at Christmas time: people you don’t see in those buildings any other time of year walk through the front doors.  I propose that those visitors make their annual appearances at both establishments for some of the same reasons.

I don’t mean to sound trite, but this annual pilgrimage phenomenon is so consistent in the theatre world that we sometimes refer to the Christmas show as our “cash cow,” because we know you will come to that show in droves.  You’ll bring the kids, your employees and their families, grandma, dad and your daughter’s chatty friends.  Not unlike the late December trek to Church, you’ll dress a little nicer.  You will also laugh a little louder and clap a little longer and sometimes you’ll cry softly.  Regardless of the show, the venue or performers, you will most likely enjoy yourself and you’ll be back next year for more of the same.

Much like Christmas services at Church, in the world of Christmas entertainment, relatively little has changed over the years (it seems The Sound of Music has inexplicably slipped into the Christmas movie and music repertoire… but that’s another editorial altogether).  From A Christmas Carol to A Christmas Story, we consumers who love “new” and “better,” find ourselves lining up for “old” and “exactly the same.”

There are three forces converging to make those Christmas shows so special.  First, the stories themselves are wonderful affirmations of humanity and hope.  They are stories of family, redemption, the joy of giving, all-conquering love and of a brilliant little baby’s humble birth.  Whether it is a grand production or a grade school pageant, those stories touch our hearts.

What makes those stories so impactful is the second force at play here: we all want very, very badly to feel those emotions of togetherness, warmth, generosity and the promise of unwavering love.  Let’s face it, we can’t always guarantee those feelings on our own, but we can feel them every year when Ebenezer Scrooge realizes he hasn’t slept through December 25th.  Those warm fuzzies are as reliable as tears at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life every year.

And that brings us to the third wallop delivered by those old stories: we only tell them once a year.  It’s like a fabulous pair of shoes you’ll never get tired of because as soon as you wear them, they get tucked away in your closet for another year.  And by the way, these Christmas shoes never go out of style.

Whether you visit a theatre – or Church – once or several times each year, I’m glad we have this season to affirm our hope and humanity together.  Cherish the stories, relish the feelings and savor the shows.  Let’s hold on to all of it as long as we can and have a very Merry Christmas.

Donna Blanchard is an actor, director and freelance arts grant proposal writer

Wrought Feelings

More from Candace:  “Feelings are a bridge between the inner world of consciousness and the outer world of manifestation, and must be felt and experienced if any kind of real and lasting result is going to come about.”

Okay, so if I don’t feel my emotions, nothing will ever be gained, changed or otherwise affected by what is going on in my head.  Ladies and gentlemen, that is an awful thing to say!  I don’t want to feel half of what is going on in my neurotransmitters on a good day!

Hmmm, have I mentioned I’m going through a lot of transition at this point in my life?  A LOT of transition.  I’m feeling a whole dynamic world of states of consciousness that change like one of those glass-filled kaleidoscopes you saw on well-dressed coffee tables everywhere in the early 90’s.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah…

When it really gets rough inside my head and the ligands are landing in the most unpleasant of ways, I look for ways to NOT feel.  I think I’m a little upset with Candace for telling me I’m not supposed to run away suppress or otherwise drown those feelings.

I admit it, I’m going through a huge phase of transition in my life (seriously – career, home, geographic region, relationship…).  I love the highs and don’t care at all for the lows.  I’ve spent enough time crying, eating and generally wanting to bang my head against the wall – do I really need more of those emotions?

Apparently, I do.  Perhaps if I feel them, I’ll actually learn to deal with them without the aforementioned behaviors.

Okay, fine, Candace.  If I’m going to make any change, I have to not just ride the shit-storm, but actually smell it.  Whatever.

A very wise friend of mine told me just yesterday that progress requires taking steps up in consciousness, then supporting/sustaining them until you’re ready for the next step up.  Meh, I suppose all of that requires awareness of all that each steps entails, including occasional [incessant] loneliness, mourning and grief…. not to mention the paralyzing questioning insecurity brings.

In moments when I’m most honest, I have to admit I’ve used the banal tool: alcohol, to mask my feelings, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  Excessive sleep, movies, performance (read: adrenaline), physical and emotional risk (read: adrenaline) and even Facebook to escape for a little while.  Sometimes all of those things are happy and healthy little choices we make when deciding how to spend our time.  Sometimes, those are ways to divert attention and avoid feeling.

Okay, so now that brings me to another question: what is normal activity and what is escape?  Or the converse: what is sitting and feeling emotions and what is sitting and looking for trouble?  I don’t want to bask/wallow in my emotions to excess.  There’s got to be a good balance…

Don’t we have an entire two generations full of people who want everything now and really have no idea what it’s like to sit in a quiet room along with their feelings?  Oh pong, what hath though wrought?

… I’ll get around to thinking about – but not wallowing in – all of this, just as soon as I finish this drink while watching a movie and posting this very personal blog on the entire world wide web (read: adrenaline).

Jesus, where’s Pythagoras when you need him…

The Definition of Emotion

This is from Dr. Candace Pert:

[I began by defining emotion as] “the flow of information perceived to be essential for the survival of any particular state of consciousness making the observation.”

Candace is one of the small handful of scientists you see in the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?” She’s an internationally recognized pharmacologist who has published over 250 scientific articles on peptides and their receptors and the role of these neuropeptides in the immune system. She spends a lot of time talking about the “molecules of emotion” (she has several books and CD’s REALLY worth checking out).

I gotta look at that again: “the flow of information perceived to be essential for the survival of any particular state of consciousness making the observation.”

A state of consciousness exists/survives – and informs me of its existence – because of certain ligands flowing into receptors (that’s the flow of information).

THAT’S IT? Jesus, God in Heaven, this frickin insanity that has tried to control my feeble little brain since the age of consciousness is a goddamn matter of squiggly things landing in squiggly thing soft spots? AND IF THEY DON’T LAND, THE GOD-AWFUL, IRRATIONAL AND POTENTIALLY LIFE ALTERING – IN A BAD WAY – EMOTION GOES AWAY?

Well, for heaven’s sake, wouldn’t it be nice to imagine controlling those soft-spots? Harumph, I’m pretty sure there’s a whole shelf of expensive prescription drugs surviving on THAT flow of observation… but shouldn’t it be easier? And cheaper… with fewer side-effects?

Seriously, if I can just catch myself in the act of an emotional wallop, shouldn’t I be able to tell myself that’s just ligands landing in soft-spots and this angst/worry/anger (insert your incendiary emotion here) would just pop off to oblivion if I could say… block its conjugal visit with that whore of a receptor?

Well hell if that’s all it is, this should be easy, right? I’m going to give it a try. The next time I want to kill someone, break something or run out of the room screaming, I’ll just remind myself that it’s not the situation that is actually all that bad – it’s the friggin ligands that are making me crazy.

Worth a try…

The Second Rule of Art Club…

Do not talk about the actual piece of private art in Art Club says that art is: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

But who is the observer? Who gets to define what is beautiful and “more than ordinary significance?”

Okay, I do. And I say that any time you create something – a painting, poem, story, sculpture or song – just for the growth it brings into your life [and thereby, the lives of all of us], THAT is more than ordinary significance! So do it. And do it knowing that you and I are the judges of it. I already love it… so we’re all halfway there, right?

BUT, let me be really clear that I’m not suggesting anyone stop creating art for general consumption or with the hopes of being generally consumed. Hey, I’ve got paintings I’ll frame someday and I really hope people will look at them and tell me how lovely they are. I’ll also continue to be a director and actress, for public viewing. This is about something separate.

This is about one painting just for me.

Honestly, the white canvas is still sitting on my easel. Isn’t that weird? For something that may someday be exhibited on my hallway wall, I am at no loss for ideas and action. For something that is precious enough to keep secret and private, I am as blank as that canvas.

Let me tell you, there ain’t nothin’ real special about that blank canvas. The hell? Why can’t I decide what to paint just for myself? Jeez, do I think this is MORE important than general consumption fodder?

Well, well, well, wouldn’t that be interesting?

I still don’t have any ideas for that canvas… will keep you posted…