Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pinky Boot Camp

The Theatre Dojo held the last of its 2-day introductory workshops in North Hollywood last week, and a bunch of wonderful participants appeared who took part in our experiment and were generous with criticism and praise.

On Saturday, I had scheduled a class on meditation and movement for actors. Rooted in traditional Zen sitting, the idea would be to incorporate movement and improvisation without altering focus, so as to allow creative inspiration to move us without censorship. It is my fantasy to develop a performance piece (and generate a text) using this process. This would be, however, only an introduction.

On Saturday morning, calls and emails started coming in: one cancellation after another. It happens. Sick. Holidays. Sick of the holidays. One by one, including my fellow Dojo instructors, people let me know they would not be coming. One participant was left.

There was a temptation to cancel. It was a rainy day in Los Angeles, the rare kind of wonderful rainy day I like to savor with a brisk walk outdoors, perhaps through Griffith Park or even by the ocean, wrapped up in a scarf and my cherished brown cap, with a stop at a pub for a hot toddy.

It is a familiar situation and a familiar temptation for anyone who has managed a Zen retreat or a Zen group. There are times when you don't get turnout, and you are faced with the decision: I committed the time, do I go through and sit anyway? Interesting to watch desire and vow wrestle one another - two wrestlers to whom we ourselves give birth.

In the end, I went through with it: drove down to Theatre Row in Hollywood, found a good parking space, and K. had shown up right on time. It wasn't the day I expected, as I had planned for a group workshop, but we had a lovely day practicing together: sitting, breathing, moving about, opening a door to let the space infiltrate us and dance us around. It was a great day.

On the subject of teaching, Sunday's uke lesson at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica was a delight, as always. Sometimes the half-hour becomes more like an hour, with Steve and me plunking away and giggling a lot. The new thing is to exercise my pinky: I'm going through "Pinky Boot Camp," with repetitive exercises to strengthen that little piggie.

There is more - but the coffee is hot and the oatmeal is cooked and it's time to follow my situation. More later, friends.

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