Saturday, February 19, 2011

of doors and a play

Through the Door To Wonderland

“what can be” needs a door to be open for it to walk through,
and it needs the actor to believe
that the right effort can get to the other side of the door
and that what is there is ready to welcome a breakthrough to it,

I look into the eyes of our actors
and I see potential poised to wow us and themselves
with spirit, voice, acting,
with their realization of immensity within
that can find a way out,
I am called to see the bright light within people
and to see the possibility that there is a lens
through which vibrant intensity can and will act in the world

it seems clear to me that every class that is taught
is, at its heart, about doors,
and, additionally, that throughout each day, each life,
potential always seeks its way out into the next level,
beyond the walls that narrow us into the lesser,

I love it when I can find a mechanism for the way to open:

we have found Alice, a Wonderland story that came to Lewis Carroll
and which holds within it characters and situations ripe for potential to release itself,

a version scripted and musiced by an adaptor with vision,
a full third of our middle school found within them the will to find the door,
we found the way to be open for all who auditioned
to contribute on or close to the stage,
and ways for more to assist in realizing the magic,

that first moment in rehearsal moves and intrigues me
when self-doubt hangs like chains
to hold each back from the door,
and then each still steps forward,
to deny the power of the weight to be shackles,
and I am moved with the power that it taps
when it lets itself risk,
lets itself believe,
and together we let that belief carry us through the door, too,

the doubter within fears it is too small
until it starts to realize it is large,
and just right,

as each actor, each helper, each director
gets the line right,
makes the prop right,
helps each step to be correct & right,
something extraordinary happens:
a wholeness gives flashes of itself,
enough makes it through to the next coalescing
that I can feel “what will be” becoming “what is,”
like when letters first drop into words
and then one cannot stop reading,
costumes appear, frames to help transform the subject within
closer and closer to the reality Lewis Carroll envisioned,
a piece of a scene, the daring of an actor who commits enough and risks,
and, in the risking, leaps through to a new reality,
it’s then as if mists clear a bit and a shape hints to us of itself,

two weeks before opening night
we share our Alices and Cheshire Cats
with 3, 4, and 5 year olds in our early schools,
and in those younger eyes wonder sparks
and their belief helps our belief,
and our actors start to awaken into that newness
that promises us it’s coming,

a flurry, a scurry, a hurry to fix this, to fix that,
to help further along each step forward
toward a breakthrough into a new excellence,

the week before performance week
virus after virus subtracts actor after actor, crew member, director
from being fully present, or even present at all,
still, the whole that the ensemble makes moves forward
and, though slowed, there is an inexorable addition,
a cohesion of part after part together into a play that is the thing
and that will not be denied,

of courses, glitches stutter clarity: technology, coordination, whatever,
nevertheless, we cross the threshold,

the first full-scale performance unveils itself at school during the day,
we invite the 6 to 9 year olds in the lower school
and the rest of the middle school
those who did not choose this mechanism
through which to release their light within,
at that initial performance for the first time,
we have an audience large enough
to respond as partner in making our new world real,
and we share our time in Wonderland,
I watch the faces in the audience
and I am absorbed in how transfixed each is,
the jokes beginning to be got,
the world we create is believed in enough by those who watch
that their belief builds upon our belief
and what we all feel to be real, lives,

and then it’s opening night:
all my carefully crafted words, before,
the lovingly realized metaphors,
all that abstraction tonight feels as nothing
compared to the concrete reality of actor after actor
stealing my attention,
when I focus on what each is doing,
as I see who each is at the heart and who each is on stage,
tears well up in me because my heart is full to overflowing with love
for who and what I see before me,
for how full each child is with the self each is given
and the self each makes
and with the wholeness which creates itself before me
and will not be denied,

I offer my tears as a gift to reveal the awe I feel
for each individual and for the group
ensembled into a show that is alive,

Wonderland lives and we visit it with Alice,
while we are there we are entranced,
and when we leave we return home,
changed by how fully each of us stepped through a door
and found ourselves more fully
who we were,
who we are,
and who we can be,
what steps through the door to a new reality
lives fully for only a few days of performances,
and it dies. . .

I stand on the emptied stage after the last performance,
all are gone,
and I sorrow the loss,

I also joyfully long for a return to a golden past,
in our hearts Alice can still live, as long as we remember,
and in our tomorrows we can hope to find the way home again,
when we can find a door and we can step through it,
the best of who we are can again find a way
to glimpse and then reveal the best within us,
that best that can find the way to re-express a golden past
that can remind us of a golden future, well within our grasp,
if we can but remember to believe and to take the right steps forward
through each door after door that can lie before us in our tomorrows.

by Henry Walker
October-February 12, 2011

"a Henry Walker poem. . ."

to name and sketch transcendence

in the course of being who he is,
and doing what he does,
and noticing what he can,
he saw and felt a moment
in which the kids felt, simultaneously,
the joy of who their team is, and has been,
and the loss of who their team can no longer be,
and my friend described that transcendent intensity
as that which can be roughly held in a “Henry Walker poem,”

my gift, which can easily quake me into tears,
helps me to see, to notice, truly,
the other who is also the best of me,
the we who is also so much of thee,

I see and feel a moment
which throbs with as much of the eternal
as I can dare to imagine to hold,
and my pen and my will leap across a chasm
to name and sketch a person, a time, an event,
each of which challenge entropy with exuberance and hope.

by Henry Walker
February 4, ’11