reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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it just is.

photo the play is over and we move on…and i will be moving back to my piano. but before i do that, i have to think some more about this experience. standing on the stage as an actor in front of two sold-out audiences was…pretty amazing. it took me time to process entering this opportunity and it’s taking me time to process moving into Next.

one of the things david said to me the day of the first performance was something like this: it’s important to not look at the audience as the audience ‘out there’…instead stand here – on the apron of the stage- and invite them in, embrace them. i suddenly recognized this as not so much different than what i do in any of my concerts. i feel as if i am inviting people into my living room (or my home studio)…well, actually, my life…each time i play a concert. and there i was, on the stage as an actor, inviting them in….

i was nervous backstage waiting. i always have eager anticipation in the green room; i spend time pacing and praying and being quiet and internal. i will sip coffee and run through my program in my head. and i fuss with my hair. photo-1this was much the same. i paced. i prayed. i was quiet and internal and i sipped coffee while running lines in memory. and yes, i fussed with my hair.

i didn’t want to be thinking, thinking, thinking as i stepped into these performances. i knew that would detract from the moment. i found, like in concert, i just needed to be present. if i am performing a piece of music, it is to my detriment if i start to think too much. the preparation is done at that point…it is time to deliver, to share it…yes to invite them in. thinking, at that point, makes it plastic, measured, contrived. and raises the chance of getting lost. just being in it is what makes it fluid, what makes it permeable, what helps it to resonate with someone outside yourself.

and so i stepped out onto the stage, in a role that i am not well-versed in…the role of actor…and i quietly became the characters in the play. i could feel them. this play has a seven-minute long silent section near the end. i had the distinct honor of holding those moments as the audience watched me re-pack a hundred-year-old trunk- a trunk filled with momentos of a ten year old boy who had died from typhoid fever and in which his momma packed all of his belongings and plastered it into the wall of a house on a ranch in california. it was with slow deliberation, weeping, that i re-packed this trunk, in silence, while the audience joined me in these emotional moments. not so unlike telling stories on stage or playing or singing something that resonates with the audience that joins me on the bench.

hmm. i think i am finding a theme here. it’s not so unlike….

and yet, the moment that the stage manager said to me, “i was so wrapped up in what you were doing that i almost missed light cues…” i felt that i was doing good work. and, even more important, when he told me that i had “brought intention” i realized, for sure, that it was exactly the same. no piece of music is without intention. no action on stage is without intention. no breath is without intention.   it is to live. to honor. to share. it’s not trying to be convincing. it just IS.

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no piano here

musings from a few days ago…

and so here i am…inside the theatre, watching the setup….but this time it isn’t for a concert…it is for a play – ‘the lost boy’ – opening its world premiere performance in california. (oh, did i mention it is sunny and warm here?)

i was just sitting outside (did i mention it is sunny and warm here?) hand-sewing one of the costume fragments for this play. david is inside with some techs painting the platform. i am running lines in my head. it’s not unlike running my music in my head, and yet it’s totally not like running my music in my head. when you are the composer, you have a bit of a free-rein option (eh…who am i kidding? you have a lot of free-rein.) when you aren’t the playwright, you…umm…don’t.

this process has been…interesting for me. this play is an interpretive storytelling…a story of legacy with poignant moments as well as comedic moments. now, as a performing artist i am used to telling stories from the stage…it is part of every concert i perform, every keynote i speak. but the last time i actually acted (in the truest definition of that word)? well, that would be high school – i performed ‘the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds’….i can’t even remember one line from that. prior to that? well, you need to skip a stone backwards to when i danced with (the infamous) kenny brook in ‘the sound of music’ in sixth grade. not exactly moments of brilliant acting, but please also refer to my exquisitely-portrayed sister bertha – in the same play – for invaluable experience (ok…that might be an exaggeration.) but it certainly counts that kenny was pretty darn cute and i got to dance with him.

the set is simple.  the set is profound.

the set is simple.
the set is profound.

i have spent many, many hours on the stage…as a performer…as a storyteller…as a solo artist…playing, singing, speaking. this project? this is outside of my box. there isn’t a piano here. no mics. no amber fresnels beaming down on me. i feel like i should offer up a disclaimer to the audience…something like, “by the way…this isn’t what i normally doooo. in real life i……” but no. and so now i am challenged with that very thing that i talk about….stepping outside our own comfort zone and trying on new shoes (speaking of which, i get to wear these great minnetonka mocassins for this production!)   stepping outside and making a mess. i get to work at something i am not good at….kind of like playing my cello, only a bit more public. and like we all tend to do, i immediately expect a lot of myself; so i must fight the urge to diminish my potential – what i think i’m capable or not capable of – to resist the learning. how many people around me each week are learning something new (in ukulele band? in the choir i direct? in workshops i lead?)

and so, my empathy button is ‘on’ and i see inside me the way we all try to default to the things we know, when the learning is actually outside of those things. especially the learning about ourselves. i, quite truthfully, find that i need to extend to myself some forgiveness for not knowing, and yes, forgiveness for resisting, forgiveness for feeling vulnerable, and grace in that forgiveness to just try. maybe i’m not sooo bad at this. maybe it’s actually fun. maybe i can actually learn something new…just like everyone else…and maybe, just maybe, i can embrace it. even with no piano here. at the very least, i can realize that, just like everyone else, i find comfort in the familiar. and in stepping into New?…well, i just need to take a breath and move full-speed ahead into that path. no regret, no judgement, no fear. just sisu. it’s all good. (did i mention it is sunny and warm here?)

did i mention it's sunny and warm here? :)

did i mention it’s sunny and warm here? 🙂

and the curtain’s up.

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