On the journey...
reflections from the 2005 spring tour - and since
Understanding the Troupe as a community has been a big insight and blessing for me, since in my past Iíve had very painful experiences with the often patriarchal, judgmental and self-righteous church communities that I grew up in. These memories emerged strongly during the training and now traveling, visiting and serving different churches and communities. In the last years that I havenít been a member of a church, I still carried a desire to belong to a community, not necessarily Christian, but most importantly healthy and holistic, including my body and my emotions, parts of me that want to be expressed Ė my complete honesty and presence. And I wanted to include silence, meditation and other spiritual rituals in which I have started to communicate with and seek God. Finding myself being held in our Troupe community, being present with all of myself, giving and receiving, exploring and learning, opening and trusting, has been a big growing and feels like the beginning of healing.
So I am thankful for all of us in this troupe, welcoming me how and who I am, holding my stories, giving me safety and comfort, a place to learn more about loving, growing, welcoming and healing. Thanks to God, to the people weíve meet, those who supported us, gave us open hearts, warm beds, yummy food, caring prayers and their own community. And thanks to the wild nature that has been my companion and teacher along the way through so many insights and pains.
February 23, 2005
Throughout our travels it has been exciting to come into contact with so
many limbs of the Body of Christ. As I have experienced the personality
of each congregation we work with, I have been witnessing in a new way
how church communities can bear people up and hold so many stories,
feelings and lives. And so a fresh love for the Church grows in me.
The improvisational form we work with, Playback Theater, has also been a
great source of learning for me. Every performance requires a measure of
faith that, when I step out as an actor, something will be there to
catch meósome Creative Spirit that will carry us moment by moment,
bringing the performance together with a wisdom we canít anticipate. I
see that this is so much like life! Sometimes there is the choice to
follow an intuition even though I donít know where it will lead. With
artistic improvisation as my teacher, I am learning to take these risks
in all realms of my life.
I see another great metaphor running between performance improvisation
and life; there are infinite possibilities for how I can shape it and
there is no one perfect way to catch. Every choice I make opens a new
set of good doors. And if I do make a ďmistakeĒ (though itís hard to
say whatís a mistake, for the Spirit moves in mysterious ways) all is
not lostóPlayback Theater (and life, I like to think) gives me the
chance to do it again until I get it.
An area of challenge and growth for me comes out of the busyness of
troupe life. Balancing the time and energy requirements of travel,
relationships, creativity, organization, performance and self-care has
forced me to develop healthy ways of holding it all. I am learning to
breathe deeply, take one thing at a time and acknowledge that Iím not in
control of everything. I must depend upon the Spirit to tie things
together and supply strength when my own stores are low. When something
heavy comes my way I can lean it against Grace instead of straining with
it on my own. At the same time, I am becoming more able to name my needs
to the group and have them met.
Finally, I feel more blessed than I can express to soak up my fellow
troupe membersí loveliness. Each one of them bears the Divine in a
breathtaking way that humbles and teaches me.
Thank you all for your prayers, good wishes, love and support. They hold
March 21, 2005
It was seeing "fluid sculptures" in worship that originally drew me into the troupe. I loved the way the actors embodied and captured the complexity of a feeling. The inner life of worship participants came alive in those sculptures, and watching and doing these "fluids," I felt invited into a deep interior world where our greatest fears and hopes reside.
This same power was present for me in the most recent round of fluid sculptures in worship at the Manchester Church of the Brethren. The troupe invited members of the congregation to share what they brought to worship and offerings from the body that day included "hope" and "nervousness." "Hope" was shared by a woman who had just planted beans. "Nervousness" was shared by a youth who was anxious about a musical theater show she was in that evening at the church.
In seeing the sculptures take place, I saw myself so clearly in them. I particularly felt them in me that day, the last day of the troupe's tour. My own nervousness and hope felt large and unweildy.
Troupe life had the nervous thrill of performances and the hope of seeds planted in new ideas and relationships. The image of seed planting is not just a metaphor; it is the reality that tending a garden requires staying-put for more than a couple of days at a time. The woman who planted beans has much to teach me about the land that we return to. What can I do now in my own place with the new vision I have after four months of dance, theater, intense community life, and travel?
I have some ideas.
I have the desire to tell more stories.
I have the desire to listen to stories.
I have the desire to listen not just with my ears but with my whole body.
What are your desires?
April 26, 2005
In 2003, i started the Jubilee Troupe with a desire to take my peacemaking work beyond politics. I had been working in a human rights nonprofit organization and the invasion of Iraq began despite enormous evidence of its impending doom. Sick of politics and policy-making, i returned to the world of the arts that i'd nurtured only part-time for years. The Jubilee Troupe was begun.
The faith-based improvisational theatre project certainly took me beyond politics, so much so that many colleagues didn't even recognize it as peacemaking. Still, i've met hundreds of folks who've gained an interest in this edgy work, and out of that interest, launched the Jubilee Arts community.
I recall an intense email exchange around 2003 with an angry American man regarding my Iraq trip website and advocacy. He directed a withering venom toward me, though eventually calmed down after hearing my view and my stories. During that time, i also received an email from Zaid, an Iraqi i'd met while visiting Baghdad in 2001, who had actually wanted the U.S. invasion. Rather than resentment for my position and possible naivete, Zaid showed nothing but respect and appreciation for the work i was doing, even against his own judgement.
I saw a huge disconnect between this Iraq easily able to forgive me for my advocacy work about his own country and an American thousands of miles away from the battlefield with nothing but anger and resentment toward me. This moment made clear that opinions for and against peace had very little to do with the actual issues, but came from deep-seated prejudices and political-cultural orientations that we carry. For many of us, talking about issues would get us nowhere. I wanted to connect with people at the heart, the gut and the deep, eternal spirit within them.
The Jubilee Troupe did that. It wasn't perfect. Sometimes we misjudged our audience, sometimes set off strong feelings around "the body" or sexuality ... sometimes we just completely missed expectations. But many people "got it." Many saw that this work wasn't about changing policy or thinking on "issues", but about unifying our bodies and minds with our spirits. Given our current culture's lack of appreciation for the wisdom our bodies carry, we had much more work to do with "the body" than we did with the intellectual pieces.
When many of us experienced this art first hand, we experienced a new kind of liberation -- not just from oppressive ideas, policies or theologies but from deep-seated practices that we had been carrying most of our lives. We stepped out of the cognitive fantasies we'd created and usually mistook for reality. What a joy -- to experience that and to share it!
Now we are launching the Jubilee Arts network community to support liberating work and play on a more continual basis. We hope the site is a place to enliven our own sometimes-isolated work in these marginal art forms. We hope it is a place to promote our individual work in our respective communities. And we also hope that the website community can grow far beyond our own provinical networks to include many others engaging the liberating arts in whatever other forms they may take.
With gratitude for the journey,
Your words and pictures...
Click here to share some of your words with us at the Jubilee Comments Page or contact us directly to send photos or other inspirations.