My life feels very complete. My children grown and following their hearts fully. My creative process keeps my heart beating and my soul happy. And at the end of each day I remind myself it’s all about process and all my endless projects need to just unfold as they will. As does my life. No attachment to outcome nor need for accolades. And the ups and downs are simply part of it. However, there is that one thing I must do before I die. Setting the intention today.
I had planned to be in New York City on July 28th this summer, sitting at the Rogers Theatre with my daughter celebrating, watching Hamilton, the Musical. We would have just completed two days of sock monkey workshops at Graham Windham with children and families (Eliza Hamilton’s orphanage). I was going to bring my sock monkeys of the entire main cast of the musical.
Sadly, fate/destiny/universe had other plans. I didn’t get the gigs I expected to have over the summer and as of May, I found myself all of a sudden struggling again to get by. Dang. More setbacks and lack of consistent work made things even harder.
And so the tickets were sold and plans changed. And I admit, I don’t think it hit me till today how truly heartbroken I am. But that is OK.
What I get from Hamilton is not about going to the show itself. It is about the creative process. It is about art about history. It is about the healing power of art. And the tenacity of art. I have been creating every day. For I am an artist with no choice. That is what I love about Hamilton and that dream hasn’t died. The message of the creation of Hamilton lives in my heart.
So today, as part of my studio clearance, raising funds and letting go, I have decided to release 4 of my sock monkeys and regroup. Start fresh. Blast the soundtrack. Surrender. And like Lin and Alexander, write my way out.
Show attendees, reporters, politicians, historians, authors, social media, voices in the street, voices in the theatre, dancers, actors, musicians, artists, the fans lining up for 100 hours, our hearts are screaming that Hamilton “the most astonishing thing I have ever seen.” Including my household! WE ARE OBSESSED!!!
“It’s fair to say that “Hamilton” is quickly asserting itself as the most important musical of our time. Miranda’s revolutionary musical gets people thinking about race, history, and theater in ways they’re probably not used to. He educates audiences about an important a piece of American history through rap and hip-hop in a work of art so ingenious that it would be brilliant even if there were no message behind it.” – Chris Weller
And yes- the musical is groundbreaking, but for me it is so much more than that! It is about being fully present in creativity, the delirium of creative process, being “young, scrappy and hungry,” the discipline, the clarity of, the belief in and the evolution of a passion project…
For example, check out this creative process and the evolution of the opening song.
to 2016 Grammy’s:
Lin Manuel vibrates with creativity. For me, his years spent making the show with his incredible team are just as intriguing as the show itself. It is about voraciously writing, reading, researching and interpreting and expressing and TRUSTING.
His process inspires me to PUSH FURTHER… THINK BIGGER!
“Anytime you write something, you go through so many phases. You go through the ‘I’m a Fraud’ phase. You go through the ‘I’ll Never Finish’ phase. And every once in a while you think, ‘What if I actually have created what I set out to create, and it’s received as such?’ ” – Lin-Manuel Miranda
Check out Lin Manuel’s take on the creative process:
“Don’t be afraid to take your time.” – Lin Manuel Miranda
It is about going farther, doing better, being excellent and being so fucking enthusiastic about the process and sharing freely!!
And not being bound by old ways of thinking and doing. For example:
“The most obvious difference between “Hamilton” and a history textbook is that nobody in the play looks how they actually looked in real life. Miranda, a Puerto Rican from New York, plays Alexander Hamilton, the rags-to-riches protagonist who moved to the US from the Caribbean at just 17 years old. The rest of the cast is made up of black, Hispanic, and Asian-American performers, a choice Miranda has repeatedly said was deliberate. “Our cast looks like America looks now, and that’s certainly intentional,” Miranda told the New York Times last year. “It’s a way of pulling you into the story and allowing you to leave whatever cultural baggage you have about the founding fathers at the door.” “- Chris Weller
I am so in love with the passion for learning that Hamilton has ignited.
“A transformative teaching moment in America.” – Ron Chernow (Ron Chernow wrote the book about Alexander Hamilton that originally inspired Lin Manuel.)
Check out Ron Chernow on Hamilton: From History to Drama
“History is so subjective. The teller of it determines it.“ – Lin Manuel Miranda
“… a significant evolution in musical theatre.” – Charlie Rose
Think I’m crazy? Ah, well! I don’t care! I AM A BELIEVER!
“They went in very skeptical but they came out true believers, like everyone does when they see the show.” – Michelle Obama
Update September 5, 2016:
My $10 bill drawing showed up on-
Need some more convincing why Hamilton is so fucking awesome? Check out:
“When people talk about the role of the arts in our national life, the conversation tends to be dominated by the culture wars, the flashpoints when some outré performance starts everybody screaming. But as the broad embrace of Hamilton demonstrates, artistic expression more often, and more powerfully, has been an integrating force in American life. The founders set E pluribus unum as the national creed without explaining how, exactly, “one” was supposed to arise from “many.” Through artistic expression, the many have found ways to relate to each other, to understand each other, to imagine what it might be like to be one, in spite of political or regional or ethnic divides.” – Jeremy McCarter
And of course:
“You have to live with the notion of, If I don’t write this, no one’s going to write it. If I die, this idea dies with me.” – LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA
As much as art and connection are part of the 3-day intensive, I also want to incorporate life skills in a natural way. One of those life skills is project planning. On Day 1 we will be mind mapping an action plan as a group. I want this to be youth-led, so my role as facilitator is to create a safe and dynamic space/environment. Of course, I have a plan and agenda in case there needs to be a nudging in order to achieve the goal, but as much as possible, this is the overall vision is that of the participants. By mind mapping together, the participants will experience project planning in a tangible way, and my goal (part of the longevity piece) is that they put that experience into their personal tool kit. .
I practice what I preach. I am spending this weekend preparing for the trip. Making checklists, packing, mind mapping out some curriculum and action plan, researching, and looking to other creatives for inspiration. For example:
Thomas Kail of Hamilton Joins Prof. Dolly Chugh’s Managerial Skills Course:
As a facilitator, I have to have a plan, an agenda-free agenda if you will. I also have to be flexible and in the moment, ready to throw plans over the shoulder and let the experience and group dynamics lead. Plan, be ready, RELAX, have FUN!
“Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box.”
― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
I don’t consider myself a writer by any means. I am a visual artist inspired by the written word. I love gathering sources, collecting, researching, gathering. I love reading and feeling the creative process of the writer. I enjoy contemplating interpretation- how small changes in presentation and how collaging and mish-mashing can alter meaning and message and how written language and visual language play similarly.
I love the DETAILS. I love how language dances through alignment and placement. Take for example in the song, Take a Break from Hamilton (at 2:19):
Aw, jeez! This kind of DETAIL reinforces my love of the creative process!
I also perseverate on the notion of stripping away- how taking away a word or adding a word alters meaning and delivery. Sometimes this fascination hinders my flow when reading a book! For example, I was sitting on the subway in Toronto last Sunday evening heading to Kipling and started reading Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace.
There on page 21, I couldn’t help but stop.
[The visitors] are like swans, drifting along on unseen feet; or else like the jellyfish in the waters of the rocky harbour near our house…
The use of the word “like” sidetracked me and I gleefully went on an a tangents, playing with removing it and adding it back.
They are like swans…
They are swans, drifting along on unseen feet; or the jellyfish in the waters of the rocky harbour near our house…
Oh that is fun. The delivery is so different. And alters the intent.
They are like jellyfish. They are jellyfish.
I am thinking about the young man in Toronto who entertained us (last week at the hotel bar) with a brilliance that shone through despite his alcohol haze. With remarkable passion, he recited lengthy pieces of Shakespeare and, intriguingly, found himself repeatedly stuck on the meaning and delivery of … but soft… in Romeo and Juliet.
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
He testified that Romeo is in a sense “stalking” Juliet and that spying on her could be played more creepy. He argued (convincingly) that Romeo’s sentence that starts with but soft is actually a line that starts MID SENTENCE- that Romeo simply starts speaking at mid sentence. It is quite a lovely argument and does affect how the scene can be played.
Oooo, I kind of love it!
Caress the detail, the divine detail. – Vladimir Nabokov