I write this from the sidelines of one of the final rehearsals of my play Wolf Song, which premieres next week. The deer chorus is singing, “deep inside the belly of the wolf/where the dark growls begin. . .”
It’s mindblowing to be watching even just a small segment of the crew of creative people—director, composer, musicians, maskmaker, puppetteers, choreographer, lighting designer–who are bringing the wolf off the page, out of my mind, onto the stage. To life. Though I am so independent when it comes to my poetry and prose, I like to work extremely collaboratively when it comes to my theater pieces. An earlier incarnation of this group agreed to incubate the play with me and so, act by act, I wrote it with the voices, bodies, musical tones, and artistic styles of particular people in mind: Libby Marcus’s puppets and masks, the dancing of Oren Stevens as 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.
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 multidimensionally gratifying, more satisfyingly complex, than I ever could have imagined. . .
With the decades, the months, the weeks even, the strength that this process has demanded has, in turn, strengthened me–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.
in But the surprise is 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.