Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Return to the Body

Last night's rehearsal was a break through in many ways.  As the director, I was feeling stumped.  I was feeling like I needed to have all the answers.  I had ideas, inklings - but nothing definitive.  I was anxious that I wouldn't seem to be a strong leader.

But that's the beauty of our Ensemble model.  Its not about one person leading the charge.  Its not about a group looking to one person for the answers.  That's a model that works well for other companies, but that's not SATE.  It's a type of selfishness or self-importance to think that just because I am directing a piece that I need to dictate the piece.  I like to think of my role like one in a canoe.  I am allowing the river to take me where she flows, and every now and then, I use my paddles to keep from bumping into rocks.  The river that is our Ensemble is powerful and beautiful and strong.

We have tools for making our way out of the rocks in the stream.  They are our Viewpoints.  Even a short exploration of Open Viewpoints made the way clear in section of the script I had been struggling with.  Every time I fall into doubt, I should remember I have the gift of our physical work.  It always brings clarity.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Last week we began rehearsals for ELEEMOSYNARY, but for me the process always begins with certain rituals, and it is often through the execution of my various rituals that I learn the most about whatever character I am about to inhabit for the foreseeable future. Ritual, for me, is partly a function of discovery--though I have some rituals that I carry through from piece to piece, I find that each new character brings with her some new facet of each ritual, and some characters add ritual, while others subtract. It is all a part of my process--and the ritual of it all brings comfort, as the inhabiting of a new being can be much like living in a foreign country for an extended period of time. The rituals allow me to feel more at home while I am finding my way in the new skin of each new woman I allow to live within the walls of my spirit.

I have a sublime passion for Moleskine notebooks. I have been keeping intricately detailed journals for about the past 8 years (one day my children will either publish them, or seek therapy). I even have a set that are in their own bookcase...and numbered. Scary, really. My preference is for the soft-cover books whose pages are filled with graph paper, preferably in black, but always with the requisite attached bookmark, and cardboard pocket in the back, in which I keep memorabilia I collect during the time it takes to fill each book: ticket stubs, fortune cookie fortunes, business cards, pressed flowers, napkins from cocktail parties...you get the idea. But somehow, picking out  a journal for Dorothea felt different--she didn't want "the usual"--and this was before I had even really done much more than a cursory read of the script. Though there is something incredibly familiar about Dorothea--she and I are surely cut from--if not the same cloth--at least cloth of very similar quality and design. Dorothea chose a dusty, pink, soft-covered binding, with lined paper, and somehow, I knew that this process was going to be different.

The next thing I do, after reading and re-reading the script several times, is to highlight my lines. Usually in the script--but, again, Dorothea had other plans in mind for me. This time, however, I found myself with scissors and a glue-stick, meticulously cutting the script apart, and carefully pasting each page onto a page of Dorothea's new journal. One page of script per right-hand page of journal. This took me well into the wee hours of the night...much past my usual bedtime--but I just couldn't stop! By the time I was done, I had rebound the script within my new journal--and the Dorothea budding inside of me thought, "This is good."

My next ritual is the putting of each of my character's lines on their own index card, with the cue line on the opposing side. I then highlight my character's lines, and carry them around so that I can use them for memorization work. I began doing this when the children were small--I could hand off a stack of cards to someone, and they could just read me a cue line instead of feeling like they had to read the entire script just to get to my bits. When the kids were small, I would often keep the cards in my lap when I was driving, and quiz myself as we bopped around town. One day, from the backseat, my 3 year old son, Adam, asked--in a "I'm concerned, but don't want Mommy to know that I think she might be crazy" voice: "Mommy...are you...talking to yourself?"

And so now, here we are, at my next "process ritual." Journaling. I always journal during the rehearsal process--and now, this part of my process is to be shared, as well! It's very exciting to be doing it on a blog with other SATEists. It, too, feels "right." I was a very active blogger years ago, but haven't kept a blog in earnest for quite some time. I can already feel that this is going to be an exciting part of this journey, though, because any experience I share with other SATEists is fulfilling beyond belief!

There are other rituals...and I will likely discover new rituals throughout ELEEMOSYNARY, but, for now, this is where I am. And it is good.

Love and Light!

It's always yes and no.

Artemis:  often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo.  She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. 


This is who my character is named after?!

Artie is a daughter.  Artie is a mother.  Artie is mean.  Artie is kind (well kind of).  Artie is sad.  Artie wants happiness.  Artie puts up barriers.  Artie wants to break them down.  Artie wants to love.  Artie wants to be loved.

Okay, some of those things I get and some I don't. 

I love Artie and I'm loving every minute of getting to explore her; whether it be her mythological roots or understanding (and digging into) her many different characteristics. 

And here's one thing I very much do understand...

Echo:  Do you love me?  Do you?
Artie:  Yes.  And no.  It's always yes and no. 

Isn't it always?  It's not easy to love someone.  It never has been and it never will be. 

But you know what...I'm in love with love.  I've said it before and I'll say it again. 



Friday, October 19, 2012


After a great first read-thru on Monday night, we've kicked rehearsals into high gear.  Kind of nuts to think that we'll he headed into tech in about two weeks.  Working with Rachel, Margeau, and Maddie is a joy.  Our first night of rehearsal was nothing but movement work.  In one short session of Viewpoints Lanes/Grid exercise, I practically saw the show unfold.

Our stage manager, Karen, might is becoming something of an assistant director, of sorts.  She beings some great insight to the script.

We've got a good team here.
Images from Viewpoints session

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Blog

In about six days SATE begins rehearsals on its 14th show - Eleemosynary by Lee Blessing.  SATE has been going through a huge transitional period for some time now, but it's finally starting to feel like we have settled into a routine.

I will admit, I was skeptical when I first heard about Eleemosynary.  I thought it would seem dated, maybe a little precious.  But as I read and re-read the script, especially once I knew they cast and I could read it with the three amazing actors in mind, I have come to feel its impact.  Eleemosynary is an amazing play for so many reasons - mostly knowing the potential for such beautiful physicality because of the cast.  Three founding member of SATE are performing together for the first time in over two years - probably closer to three.  I relish the familiarity.  Such a homecoming, for many reasons.

In emails to one another, we have confessed our excitement and nervousness.  Hopefully this blog will be a place we can share and process - not only for this production, but for all those to come.

I am so proud to be a member of this ensemble.

~Ellie Schwetye