I write this from the sidelines of one of the final rehearsals of my play Wolf Song. Its very first performances are next week. The deer chorus is singing, “deep inside the belly of the wolf/where the dark growls begin. . .”
I’m watching just a segment of the unbelievable crew of creative people—director, composer, musicians, maskmaker, puppetteers, choreographer, lighting designer–who are bringing the wolf to life in this show. It’s all just a remarkable experience.
An earlier incarnation of this group actually incubated the play; act by act, I wrote it with the art of particular people in mind: images of Libby Marcus’s puppets and masks, the dancing of Oren Stevens the hunter, and, as the final group took shape, Mihku Paul’s props, Assunta Kent’s direction. Somewhere along the line, it all led to founding a new theater company with Assunta and Erica Vega. And it was worth it. The opportunity to write a play for a living troupe, to collaborate with incredible artists, now including choreographer Brigitte Paulus, lighter Stoney Cook, costumer Kristina Skillin, and many wonderful actors, and to work so intimately with its first performance, is more complex and satisfying than I ever could have imagined. . .
As an artist, I’d say the lesson I am learning the most from all this is responsiblity. Increasingly, as I’ve been coming along through this life we all share, I’ve discovered, as maybe you have, that the limits of my strength and power are not as close as I thought they were. With the decades, the months, the weeks even, it seems I am able to get stronger, as long as I am willing to move and let go of the parts of me that I don’t need. With that strengthening, that stronger stretch, comes growing power (here’s Lucia Rene’s blog on how power is growing for women now!)–and with the power of course comes responsibility.
But this is the surprise: the nature of the responsibility. For a long time I thought of responsibility as a sense of duty, an obligation, as if a weight were being added to me. But now, since I have found my long-lost heart again (during a shamanic soul retrieval journey I will write about anon), I feel responsibility as a lightening–an increased need (and ability) to respond.
The root meaning of respond is to “give back.” “promise back.” What I’m learning is that giving back is not only an obligation but a freedom; it creates a lighter heart.