Beginning with Bravery

Note: This is a cross-posting from Paul Holmquist’s “Neverwhat?” blog, chronicling his research for directing our spring MainStage production of Neverwhere.

Beginning with Bravery

On a personal note, I have been enjoying this researching and information gathering and the whole evaluation process like a warm blanket. It is an indulgence, in my experience, to really incubate these ideas and notions theoretically without having to make any real decisions. Without any pressure to PRODUCE RESULTS, the experience of sitting with the material and investigating sources of further inspiration without committing to them is a delightful notion. Like bathing in the creative flow of possibility, irresponsibly and childlike.

The time has come for that process to have some closure and for realization of the ideas to become manifest. I enter it with a bittersweet heart. Now all the ideas of this baby’s realization must become guidance, authority, structure and technical actuality. The reality of our medium and the technology available at our level of budget and space must be dealt with.

I’ve taken the time in the past week to enjoy some other manifestations of similar creative works. From Hell, Beowulf (thanks again, Neil), and Alice in Wonderland come to mind. I’m also this close to finishing Watership Down. There is an element of steeping myself in these epic works that speaks true to the process of creating theatre to me and I’m compelled to share it with you.

Any journey in our life, planned or sprung upon us, involves a deeply personal confrontation with the inherent truth of the self. We must look within, face our utmost limits of fear and identity, before we can complete our quest. All quest stories, from Frodo to Luke Skywalker to Harry Potter echo this. Neverwhere is no exception. Epics or quest tales evoke our innate sentiance to see ourselves and judge our own actions, our own decisions that brought us here and confront our moving forward and realizing our true potential. Therapeutic technique is based in this notion as well. We dig in the dirt of our past to figure out how to grow and be whole, we seek a holistic identity coupling the forbidden wounds of our past with the ideals of our present. And we become something indelibly, singularly, personal and present.

This journey takes great imagination, reflection, honesty, wit and resilience. Our natural leneancy and laziness hopes to say NO, I wont go there, I know myself well enough thank you. It takes a huge amount of bravery to confront your reality and say this is not what I want, this does not fit me, I am SOMETHING ELSE.

Richard is helplessly thrown into this process, he doesn’t enter willingly. He is tossed asea in this fantasy left and right. Coming to a crisis of identity in The Ordeal, he finds he does have the strength to be Himself in The World. He actually does have enough self value to Go On. It is this strength that changes him in action, from this point forward he acts more bravely, becomes a Warrior instead of a Follower, finds his gumption and his resolve. He screws his courage to the sticking place only by discovering there is a sticking place and a courage to work with.

After arriving back in London, the current status quo doesn’t seem to fit. Ultimately, there is a lie present. He is faking something that isn’t true to his knowledge of himself. It doesn’t matter what other people think he should be, he knows better. He knows he is The Warrior. He believes his greater power. And he goes back to seek it.

Simply put, the experience of actor, designer, and director in a theatrical production is a similar process. There are preformed ideas of what will be. There are realities to confront. There is a strength of resolve that must be honored. There is a bargaining process. And then there is a belief that makes everything else is unimportant.

I am here. Now. I am committed to this beauty of Truth, I am an embodiment of Honesty, I face my limitations with bravery because I am a Warrior. And I fight for Trust, Truth and the Story. My purpose is greater than me, I am humbled and at the same time exaulted by it. We are one in the same. And we are inpenetrable. The Truth will stand even if I perish in the attempt to exemplify it. Without me, where will the Truth be told?

We are always questing. I think of this process being an expression of that quest. It will be deeply personal, honorable and truthful and scary. It should be. Such demons must be present to be dealt with or we aren’t doing our jobs.