Week Three... Chicago-land

Its been almost a full week in Toronto and I'm finally getting around to updating y'all about my time in Chicago. I'm multitasking at the moment; I'm trying to listen to the Buddhist Geeks podcast entitled "Ethics is a Fraud" while I reconnect to my week in Chicago. Maria turned my attention to the podcast after we had an in-depth conversation about ethics in spirituality. We decided that ethics should not be based on a foundation of hope, but then we decided spiritual practice demands a solid foundation of hope. I'm letting these thoughts land on me and slosh about in my guts. Its been nothing but ritual, yoga, reading about ritual, women, and god/spirit/intelligence/greater consciousness, and trying to cultivate a sattvic environment and creative process since I arrived on Sunday. I will go into more detail about that in my next post.

Chicago:

As I stated in my last post I went to a training institute with Michael Rohd of the Sojourn Theatre Company.  It was a week of thinking deeply about injustice, equity, and using an arts-based approach to serve communities. The time at the institute opened my eyes to the varying possibilities of building activism into art (for a long time I've been wondering why I usually keep those aspects of my life separate). In the past I have devoted only a small chunk of my time and energy to activism because art-making, making a living, fostering my spiritual practice, and going to school have been my priorities. Incorporating an art-based civic practice into my art practice allows me to utilize my very specific skill-set and pour more energy into the work my heart longs to do. I'm no Ethan Hughes (<3); I'm not going to give away all my possessions, ride my bike around the country, and offer service to people for free (thats a leap of faith my heart is not quite ready to make) BUT I can collaborate with the North Philly Peace Park (who is serving and empowering a needy community) to co-create a project that serves their needs. GAWSHHH I'm really excited to get back to Philly and start working on that project. I have so many dreams for it *le sigh*.

There were so many take-aways from the workshop: how to facilitate a group and foster true equity (aka how to prevent white people, especially men, from dominating the room), how to get a group of people who don't identify as artists or performers to feel safe enough to play, and how to foster conversations that build bridges between people of varying backgrounds. <3 <3 <3 It was also super helpful to learn how the institute breaks down an artist's practice - it has helped me clarify, for myself, what I want my art-making career to look like. The breakdown: 

  • Studio Practice: Artist makes their own work and engages with the public as an audience
  • Social Practice: Artist works with public on an artist-led vision in ways that may include an intention of social impact beyond a traditional audience experience
  • Civic Practice: Artist co-designs project with the public; the spoke intention is to serve a public partner's self-identified needs.

As of right now I know I want my career to be a mix of Studio practice and Civic Practice. In my studio practice I want to address the questions that haunt me, and utilize the forms that take my breath away. Cultivating a Civic Practice is how I will give back to my communities. I'm not really interested in making political plays that are meant to shape policy or change people's minds about a particular issue (I'm not clever enough to do that well OR capable of taking complex issues and whittling it down into an hour 1/2 play...) BUT I can (and already do) build relationships with organizations doing really important work for their communities, and then serve their needs with an art-based approach. Wouldn't it be funny if I ended up being asked to devise a play with community members to serve the organization's needs?... Watch, I will be eating my words one day. 

Chicago was awesome. I even made some friends there. 

Until next time.

xoxo