Category Archives: Dreams for the Future

Personal Realizations, Fears, Thoughts on Theater and Long Term Creative Commitment

Photo by Dan Rubin.

Photo by Dan Rubin.

Realizations about Selfishness, Not Taking things for Granted and Needs for Validation

I’ve been having an enlightening time since last I wrote.

I’ve had some kind of catharsis. A realization. A growth. A deepening of knowledge of self. I have many short comings. Many faults. I am not perfect. I am not a selfless, pure soul, always giving and never taking. I have a need to be my rawest, truest, most fucked up self and for everyone to embrace and understand me. I want to be able to expose myself emotionally to everyone. I want to be naked, figuratively, to the world. Yet I also fear that. I fear that people will see what I truly am; a deeply needy, obsessive, doubtful and sensitive human being like anyone else. I fear people’s judgments.

No one owes me praise or compassion or love, or anything for that matter. I don’t deserve constant attention just because I’m talented. Hard work is a given. It is necessary and expected in order to create anything greater than myself. I don’t want to be someone who is selfish and constantly needing outside validation for every small thing I do. I want to be a strong, hard working, creative, inspiring, productive and self motivated person. Also compassionate, sensitive to others and giving. The truth is that sometimes I am not. I can be selfish, inconsiderate, full of myself, needy, lazy, greedy, etc. That is what I can fall back on with such ease if I don’t work every day to combat it.

My deepest fear is that I will turn into my mother. I’ve been watching her and how sick she is for this entire month. It tears at my heart and shakes the core of my soul. It makes me doubt all the positive things I see in myself. It makes me wonder if I am doing the right thing. If everything will be ok. If I will die all alone and unloved. If anyone loves me at all and if I’m not just a bother to everyone around me. I can also doubt myself in a deeply disturbing way. To the point that I wonder if I made the right choice to make a life commitment to something when I was just 21 years old. If I’m following the right path. If it will make any difference for my life or for other people. If it’s worth it. I have been talking to a few close friends over the last few days about my doubts, which have been coming up while we’ve been in Nashville this month. I’m finding that I am not alone in my feelings. A friend last night said “You feel as much trapped with a house then you are without it.” Since both my parents own a home, cars, and have all the trappings of a normal life (even though they were both freaks like me at one point), I wonder if I shouldn’t have the same. I don’t want to settle down though. I want to be free. I need to me more grateful for what I have. I need to remember how blessed I am and I shouldn’t give myself such a hard time.

I am an artist. I’ve always been an artist. I can’t be anything but an artist. I live my life as art. All I do is art. I have needs. I need support. I need love and understanding and friendship and unconditional love for who I am. I need to be able to tell people what I need when I need it, even if they can’t give me exactly what I need. I have people who give me that. I can’t take that for granted. I need to be vulnerable and open and raw and honest in my interactions with the world. That’s how I’ve gotten everything in my life. My friends, my husband, my lifestyle. That’s how I play music.Sometimes I feel like I’m invisible, like I’m an island unto myself. Like no one can relate to me because I am so uniquely me. I have friends though. Talking to my friends has really helped me realize I am not alone and that my problems and fears are not unique. Everyone has the same fears as me, no matter how much they have. The grass is always greener, right? “But you need to remember that for some people you are the greener grass.” a friend said last night. I am living a blessed life with a beautiful husband and some really amazing friends. I can’t forget that or take it for granted.

I don’t talk to many people about my feelings because I fear judgment and rejection and denial. We all do. The beauty of life is to be open and exposed and vulnerable. That’s why certain actors move me and certain singers touch me. It’s as if I can see inside them. The barrier that people usually put up to protect themselves in daily life isn’t there. That’s what I strive for in my work. That’s what I’m striving for in my videos. That’s what I am. I am a vulnerable human soul longing to be accepted and understood by other human souls. I am so blessed that some people do truly understand me. I want to be an inspiration to others, not someone who constantly needs validation from other people. I want to be strong, but sometimes I’m just not. I am weak and vulnerable, open to attack or judgment. I take it hard too. I don’t do myself any favors by writing and performing and living the way I do. I make myself incredibly vulnerable every single day and I get hurt very easily. I can over think people’s words and actions to a highly debilitating degree, especially when I’m not prayforming.

I want never to shut down my feelings because I’ve been hurt too much. I have everything because of my openness. I have gained so much because I have been real with my needs and wants. I face myself every day and try to work through my short comings and faults and make myself a better person. I am thoughtful and pondering and brooding. I think a lot. I question myself. I am honest with myself. I am honest with others. I try not to hide what I feel and think and believe for fear of being misread. I always try to give without expecting anything in return. Sometimes it is impossible! Sometimes I just need someone to listen to me. A shoulder to cry on. Someone who really cares about me and sees me for who I truly am. Someone who can love me for who I am, flaws and all. Thoth gives that to me every day and I give that to him. My friends give me that. I am blessed.

The world is very cold and uncaring. It is easy to cut ourselves off from love. It is easy to be cruel and hateful and incompassionate. It’s easy to build walls around our hearts and our feeling and our emotions. If everyone said what they meant, told people what they needed, loved and gave and cared more fearlessly, the world would be a truly beautiful place. We need to be more loving, more deeply open to each other, especially during these times when the world is slowly caving in on its self. Instead of clicking “like”, I talk to our friends face to face or write to them and tell them we care. We show people and tell people what we truly feel.

On Theater as a Vehicle for Compassion

I have always been obsessed with Phantom of the Opera. It is the ultimate tale of obsession. What has struck me recently is just how f’ing obsessed Erik is with Christine, in the musical especially. Up until the first moment of contact, when he brings her down to the lair, he has only taught her voice lessons. He has never had a conversation with her, or that’s what I’m led to assume. He has only been able to coach her from behind the mirror. She doesn’t even know he’s a real person yet. So for all these months that he’s been coaching her, he’s been lusting after her endlessly. Fantasizing about her… And all this time he’s been designing a lifelike doll that looks exactly like her, which he reveals to her when she first comes to his lair. I didn’t realize how f’ing creepy that is! He’s probably been masturbating to the doll, sleeping with it, maybe even having sex with it. When he finally has her, he shows her this doll in the wedding dress and of course she faints! What Erik wants, more then anything in the whole world, is to marry and be loved by and have sex with Christine! That’s all. That’s his motivation from before the musical started until it ends. Clear, simple, and really, reeeeeeally creepy.

Obsession, lust, desire, revenge, murder has been the subject of so many great musicals, opera, books and movies, yet these are characteristics we as human beings don’t look upon favorably. Isn’t that funny? All the fictional characters I love in theater are characters I’d be pretty creeped out by in real life. I wouldn’t find it endearing if someone made a mechanical doll of me, kidnapped me, hypnotized me, killed people for me, blackmailed me or threatened to kill my fiance. Nor would I like someone who grounded me up into a meat pie or transformed into a murderous maniac. Even gentler creatures who were immensely deformed would probably frighten or sicken me in real life. The arts transform these twisted characters into people we can feel for. That’s the beauty of theater and books and films. We can feel for those we probably wouldn’t in real life. Compassion. Empathy. That’s why I love theater.

I can create and play a character who in real life no one would like, yet through the medium of theater or music or art, you can get to know them and maybe even grow to love them. Same as why I love Erik. He would be an immensely unpleasant person in real life, yet I love him because the works created about him give me a look into his mind and his heart. I can see and understand why he does what he does and feel for him when he looses the only thing that matters to him. Michael Crawford said in his final performance speech:

“It’s wonderful to play a man that you can *care* about him loosing, and if we all cared about each other in that way, it would be a terrific place.”

That’s the beauty of theater, it brings deep compassion, care and understanding out in us.

On Long Term Creative Commitment

I’ve been avoiding social media since Christmas. I’m trying to teach myself to work on things that take long time daily commitment to accomplish. I’m good at things that take a day or two (a vlog, a blog, a sketch, a prayformance, a makeup look) but I struggle with things that take a long time. A play, an opera, a book, a painting etc. Things that can take many weeks, many months, or even many, many years. I tell myself I need to get things done fast, or I won’t get them done. I have only been able to complete an opera because we were commissioned to complete it and Thoth was always there. I have never finished a project on my own. I am refocusing my life to be able to do that. There are many things I want to do in my life. Write a book, a play, another opera, etc. I’d also love to paint a finished canvas. All these things take longer then a day. I must find a way to work incredibly hard without needing any outside validation or anyone seeing what I’m doing. I get so much praise when we prayform. I’m used to that, but it can be debilitating when creating without it feels impossible. I must. It is the only way to create the great work I have in me. I know I have something truly great in me that I can’t even imagine now.

Finding My Way, One Prayformance at a Time.

Wednesday May 25th 2016

I’m sick. Even though I was ill on Saturday morning, I was able to sing through two almost two hour prayformances, but I got sicker on Monday (our day off.) I thought I was getting better. Thoth got sick on the plane, then passed it to me. It’s no surprise. We were stressed out after traveling hundreds of thousands of miles up in the air in a metal tube in the driest, germ-ridden air imaginable, for 10 hours. I am proud I got myself to sing this past weekend, and I’m sure I’ll be able to sing tonight. Even 3 years ago, if I got sick, I wouldn’t sing. My voice is my livelihood, but I don’t have to sing so fully when I’m ill. Singing when sick is very humbling. It takes away a lot of my strong suits when it comes to prayformance. My high register is unreachable, I can’t sing sustained notes of any kind and I can’t wear makeup. It makes me feel very bare, but the space we sing in here lends its self well to the sounds I’m able to produce. I can pop out a note and the reverb will sustain it for me. I don’t have to force anything. I wouldn’t dream of hurting myself for the sake of strangers watching us perform in the street.

Not wearing makeup the past two prayformances was eye opening for me. It showed me how much I rely on makeup in performance. I don’t need to. Many actors wear nothing on their faces when performing because they sweat too much. My husband doesn’t wear very much makeup for the same reason. Just a little gold on his cheeks, some black eyeliner and a little lipstick. It’s the same every time, too. For years I’ve been challenging, sometimes forcing myself to do a different look every single day. There’s no reason if I don’t feel like it, especially in public performance. If we do a special indoor show, I can put my creative skills to use then. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to wear makeup in public again, it just opens it up as a possibility. Now that I think about it, it’s incredibly stupid that I thought I am nothing without my fanciful makeup. For a few years, I thought I had to wear incredibly complex headdresses with tulle and feathers in order to be beautiful for prayformance. What nonsense! Prayformance is about what’s in my heart, in my soul, not what’s on my face or in my hair. That’s superficial. I always said I do makeup and fanciful costumery to express what’s inside, but that’s not always true. Sometimes I do it because I feel like I have to, like people are expecting it.

My sister did a show recently where everyone wore black. She had on black jeans and a black shirt. She even had her phone in her back pocket. No makeup, of course. My sister rarely wears makeup. The show was about the actors physicality and their voice, and I was spellbound for the entire hour and 15 minutes. My sister did three dance numbers, which were fantastic. She’s a good dancer! Another actor I saw a few years ago does all his shows in dark clothes, sometimes his face is smeared with blood or grease paint, but that’s it. It’s the man’s face and body that captivates the audience, not what he’s wearing. And I am transported into their world for the length of the performance because of their commitment to it. It’s always magical and inspiring to witness that.

Theater is simply heightened reality. Playing violin and singing our original duets full out in a public space is heightened in and of its self. Take away the makeup and costumes and people still enjoy it. Physical additions add a more heightened effect, but it’s not necessary. We are fantastical simply by being what we are. What I’m realizing is I should do things because I want to do them, not because I feel like I have to. If I feel inspired to do elaborate makeup and dress, then I should do it, but there is no expectation from anyone. Only a few people comment on how I look. Our photographer Dan especially does because he is our photographer. I enjoy dressing up when he comes to see us in Central Park because I get some great shots out of it. I think this past weekend has brought me one step closer to feeling comfortable being myself and not having to apologize for anything. That’s what prayformance is all about, boldly being yourself, whatever that happens to be. Happy, creative, angry, depressed… It’s about letting all of our emotions out through music.

We invest in flights and housing in different countries in order to perform year round. We’ve been doing this for almost 8 years, and it works incredibly well. It’s the only way for us to perform regularly that we’ve discovered, which is imperative for our health, and sanity. I have a dream, though, to tour our operas indoors with sets and lights and actors and musicians. The reason I hesitate is because we’d have to settle down for a while and invest a good deal of money in order to make it happen. Performing regularly in public is beneficial and feasible for us in every way, but I have a dream for something much bigger. If we stopped prayforming in public for a long length of time, it would be very hard for us. Unless we were provided a grant or commission. The only way we were able to record “Esh and Ee-ay,” is because we invested our money to create it. I can’t imagine how actors feel when they’re unemployed for months on end, like many I know. A few actors I know have learned to combat this problem by writing and putting on their own shows. Even with last year’s commission, we still needed to perform all year round to keep ourselves alive. It’s hard to imagine taking the time off needed to put up an opera on our own.

This feeling is what is stagnating my desire to write another opera. The synopsis for Ee-ay’La took months to write, but our operas need to be seen indoors to be truly appreciated. “The opera is lost to the public.” a friend once said after coming all the way from Edinburgh here to see it. We have enough music to play in public. Every public audience is mostly seeing us for the first time, so continuing to write more music isn’t needed, unless we truly want to. Getting it staged indoors is what is needed, but that is a precipice I am terrified to jump off. I started writing “Ee-ay’La” because I felt we needed to write another opera, but we don’t. We don’t have to do anything unless we want to. That’s the great thing about performing in public, there is no expectation of you, but that’s also the downside. All motivation must come from within. When people expect things of me, I’m inspired to deliver. That’s why we were able to write “Esh and Ee-ay” in 8 months. We have no expectation now, so writing is uninspiring, daunting and overwhelming. Not that it wasn’t all those things last year, but there was an excitement that we would be performing the work for lots of important people at the end of the year. Public performance keeps us alive, but it’s unstable. Investing in a show might help us to be more stable, but it’s the scariest thing I can imagine doing. We bought two one way tickets to Amsterdam 7 years ago, and look where we are now. We’re pretty successful for being out-of-the-box, on-the-edge street performers, but I want more than that. It feels like we’re on the cusp of something new, but I don’t know if we have to take this big, dangerous plunge to make it happen like we did 7 years ago, or if things will fall into place to make it happen, just like it did 7 years ago.

It’s possible I feel this way because performing in the street is considered an illegitimate way to be “successful.” We get questions when we’re performing in public that jab at me like bee stings. “Are you performing anywhere?” “Do you perform in the opera?” “Are you famous?” All these questions revolve around how many people perceive public performance, and pull me towards my desire to perform indoors. They seem to want to be told we have rave reviews from theater critics, we tour with an opera company, and we are legitimately respected artists, singers and musicians. When we performed our commissioned opera, we were treated with such respect and awe, same when we performed at the documentary debut. We are treated with that same awe and respect in public, but people don’t understand how something so good is happening on the street. If that perception didn’t exist, then I probably would be completely content living the life I live. It’s difficult to be perceived as less than I am because of how I choose to share my art. Children don’t see us that way. The little girl in the vlog from Sunday didn’t feel that way. She was transfixed, transported and amazed.

It’s only when people grow up that they’re told what to believe and what to think. People are taught that street performers are less than because they’re along side beggars and homeless people. I think our job as performers bringing great art into public spaces is to challenge people’s idea of where and how great art should be seen. I think a lot of people assume that talented people’s work is naturally seen in fanciful, elite venues and they’re famous. We perform our work in tunnels, hallways and parking garage entrances. Living a life out-side-the-box is hard for the very reason that people judge you and try to make you feel like you should change. It’s my duty as I grow up to learn that how people perceive how I live my life doesn’t matter, as long as it makes me happy and what I do touches people. I do the work however I can to reach as many people as I can. I never looked down on Thoth because he performed in public. He makes outdoor venues his own, and he is passing that knowledge on to me. We don’t have to wait around for someone to pay us to put on an opera, we do it ourselves.

I am finding my way, one prayformance at a time.

“It’s not every day people follow their hearts and dreams as both of you have. Stay beautiful and proud and always original. The world is already full of way too many carbon copies.”

SOME MORE HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

Sunday August 24th 2014

Photo by Dan Rubin NYC 2013

Today we packed up and moved into a new place in Leith (that’s on the shore of Edinburgh,) went grocery shopping, had a Skype interview for our show in Martha’s Vineyard on August 30th and Skyped with our friend Sal who’s setting up our Indigogo page  for a new film he’s making about us (which drops TODAY). Stress and excitement galore!

SOME MORE OF MY HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

That my journal documenting the year I met Thoth is found and returned to me.
That every sketch book I’ve ever made is found and returned to me.
That we’re able to afford to hire our musician/actor/circus performer friends to tour with us.
That we write a full length opera around our music and tour beautiful small opera houses, churches and beautiful resonant spaces with it.
That we make a full length documentary about our lives with scenes of all our pieces.
That a park ranger is instated at Bethesda Terrace to keep the break dancers away permanently.
That Douglas Blonsky takes a stand against obnoxiously loud and amplified music at Bethesda Terrace in New York.
That we have a beautiful apartment on the Upper West Side where we can live whenever we visit New York.
That we get invited to perform at artistic parties all over Manhattan.
That we are flown to exotic cities to prayform at events.
That every disease is cured and humans can live a long and healthy life.
That the collective consciousness of humanity shifts away from greed and fear to generosity and love.
That we never face grief and sadness again.
That my sister meets a beautiful man like Thoth who can truly love and support her.
That we can prayform whenever we want in beautiful churches and venues all over the world.
That we can share our prayformance with people in 3rd world countries, like Africa, India and South America.
That we have enough money to take care of people we love.
That our music can inspire a person to live when they were thinking of ending their life.
That we can help people with our music for as long as we’re alive.
That we are surrounded by a large, loving community of friends and we are never lonely.
That we have private homes all over the world where we can invite people for intimate prayformance house concerts and have rooms for people to stay.
That there is no more injustice in the world.
That no person, especially children, ever suffer.
That we are protected everywhere we travel.
That there is no more meanness or cruelty in the world.
That I have a successful blog that thousands of people read.
That we get to go to Japan, especially Harajuku and I can buy all the amazing fashion.
That I have a closet full of cute dresses and shoes and hair color and makeup that I don’t have to abandon every several months.
That buskers are more respected.