Saturday, March 9, 2013

creating a/broad, March 9, 2013

How Do You Do That Voodoo That You Do So Well?
by Cameryn Moore

How did you learn that?

You know, THAT. That THING that you do on stage, or on the page, in front of the mic, under the lights, that thing you do that you don’t even notice until someone compliments you about it after the show, or calls it out in a review. Whenever that happens, you shrug your shoulders and feel a little sheepish. That’s nothing, you think to yourself.

Because you don’t know.

You don’t know how you learned to do that. You don’t remember ever learning that. You just always knew it or did it or had it, you can’t think of a time when you didn’t. If it’s a skill, you can’t remember when you didn’t have it. If it’s a trait, it’s one that you don’t remember cultivating ever. You might have been praised for it always, or it might be something that blossomed in you in spite of the best efforts of your family to keep it down, in spite of the punishments or scorn you got for that thing in school, in spite of whatever lack you had in your life that didn’t seem to leave any room for that thing. But there, there it was all along.

All along, so long that you can’t talk about it, you don’t have the words for it, it’s just there, always there.

Do you remember that? Yes? No? Do you remember that happening more than once?

Or maybe you DO know.

You remember the class where it happened, the festival, the dance floor, the sidewalk where someone first noticed it, and you stunned yourself doing it, and maybe the people around you looked at you with a little bit of surprise. Not that you were suddenly world-class anything, but it felt really right and you didn’t know that you could do this thing until suddenly you did. And that was a little weird, to find this latent thing, where no-thing had been before, in your mind, in the minds of all the people there, what they thought they knew about you and your abilities, what you all thought you knew, is wrong, so fucking wrong.

Do you remember that? Yes? No? Do you remember that happening more than once? Do you remember this thing and that other thing, and don’t forget this third thing that always brings someone in the audience to come up to you after your show or workshop or exhibit, in tears? Do you? Remember?

Another thing to remember about these things, the thing about all those things that you do or are, is that you don’t know until you do. Before some event—and I use the word “event” here in a more scientific fashion, as “occurrence”—you didn’t know you were good at that thing. Your abilities or skill or “natural shine” existed in a sort of quantum limbo. And then the event happened and you knew or just felt that you were good. Or could be good. Or you suddenly wanted to be so good that you worked on it until you were, bending the reality of your existence around this thing. All of those things all had some moment where you discovered them. 

I’ve had the space in my life to fling myself out into the abyss

Those moments happen all the time to us as children. They’re a little harder to come by as an adult. We get our grades, we get our skills assessment, we get our degrees. That’s what we’re trained at, and therefore that’s what we must be good at, it’s our thing, and that’s what we make our money at, and then it becomes this feedback loop, with a little trail worn away between point A and point B. 

I feel lucky, because I’ve had the space in my life to fling myself out into the abyss, the mad free-fall of Fringe performance. I’ve said it before: Fringe is like graduate school for performers. And it is FULL of things, other people’s things that I had never before thought of trying and then suddenly I want to try ALL of it. I sit in the audience and watch other performers unfolding their hearts and skills and minds out there on stage like paper-lace snowflake souls, and I wonder, how did she do that, how did he learn that thing, what IS that thing, exactly, and could I try that?

And then I go somewhere else and try it, someplace where I have NO IDEA. A workshop, a class, a free-form dance jam, an interactive installation, a quiet unclaimed hour in a café with just me and a pen and a notebook. I go there, try some thing, any thing, a bunch of things, and see, just see, what happens.

For example, in the workshop that I’m taking at Montreal Improv… I think I may have found another thing. Now, I just was going to pick up some principles of improv for a workshop I’m developing. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I do. I could have guessed that I am pretty good about picking up the invisible undercurrents of action and thought and what might be coming next from other people. I do enough improvisation in phone sex and Sidewalk Smut that I have learned to trust my impulses. But the workshop, it’s different, I’m interacting with other people, not for pay, but for play, and I’m finding, yes, this thing, I might be able to do this thing, I think I can do this thing.

It’s another layer, another moment, to add on top of the things I already know. I don’t know how I know these things. I don’t know at all, until suddenly I do. I love it, I want more of it, I want you to have more of your things, too.

I want to ask you, right now: what might be your next thing?

And where do you need to go to find it?
indiegogo for Phone Whore, the Movie
March 7-9: Hot Threesome (a one-woman festival of sex plays)
March 19: Three Different Paths to a First Draft (a workshop)
April 8-13: Release (world premiere of Ms Moore's new show)

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