Go To The Shoe Room [on Two Artists Tuesday]

When I managed the theatre conservatory at PCPA Theaterfest, I occasionally gave backstage tours. It was great fun because the favorite stop on the tour – on every tour I gave – was the shoe room. Visitors always enjoyed standing on the stage, they were impressed with the scene and costume shop, they delighted to watch the prop master at work, but the moment we entered the shoe room, they were transcendent. Wide-eyed and giggling, pulling period shoes from the shelves to show their companions, it was as if they’d entered a candy store. The magic was released through the shoes.

The shoes, I suspect, harkened back to a time of dress-up. Childhood. The shoes touched their spirit of play. They beckoned to be worn and, as any actor knows, the shoes will inform how a character moves. The sooner you don the shoes, the sooner you will “find” the character. The shoe room was a portal to possible-other-lives.

I am more enamored by sketches than I am by final drafts. I delight in watching master craftsmen and craftswomen work. Theatre artists do not create illusions, they provide access to other worlds, unknown paths. They invite us to the shoe room to try on another life, even for a moment. The process, to me, is more beautiful than the performance.

As we walked the paths of the Botanical Gardens, the technicians were preparing for the festival of lights. Walkie-talkies crackled. Connections were checked. Battery packs were carefully placed. Multi-colored light strands ran like rivers up the trunks of trees. E-candles on armatures floated in the waterways. Magic was in the making. During the daylight, the entire expanse of the Garden is backstage – exposed wires and explicit design. At night, the mechanics will fade behind the light curtain. Backstage will become fore-stage. The light will invite us into another world. The light will touch the spirit of play.

I have always believed that people, lurking behind those serious faces, really just want to play. It’s the reason I kicked off my shoes every time I entered a room to do a facilitation. Lose your shoes and it’s no longer a serious affair. Play threatens. Play is suddenly a real possibility. The spirit of play cracks even the most harden entrenchment. Play necessitates collaboration and sharing. Pirates and Princesses need mates and parrots and knights in order for the world to be complete. Lawyers will take off their ties and wear them as headbands when the shoes come off and the serious topics are approached in socks and bare toes.

I recently – as we all have – been privy to an endless contentious debate about what this nation needs to do to get back on track. I believe it is not so complicated. We can carry on our oh-so-serious-division, but the single rule should be that no one can open their mouth – politician, pundit, and pedestrian alike – before first taking off their shoes.

read Kerri’s blog post about LIGHT STRANDS

Figure It Out [on KS Friday]

figure it out songbox copy

Sometimes I am surprised at the memories a piece of music evokes. While listening to FIGURE IT OUT I was propelled way back in time into a specific moment, an acting exercise Jim Edmondson led with actors in the company at PCPA Theaterfest. It was an exercise in belief. He told them to imagine that their toddler had wandered away on the campus and was lost. “Find your child.”I watched Lisa, a terrific actress, tear across the campus calling out her child’s name. Searching, desperate. She was so committed that campus security came. People left their administrative offices to help with the search. She created belief. She brought us into her play. Jim stopped the exercise before the search for the imaginary child got out of hand.

It is the power of the artist. To pull us into a common story. To propel us into our distant past. To open possible paths forward, to stand in a shared vision. To help us across the boundaries of time and space and belief.

FIGURE IT OUT will propel you. The only question is where Kerri, through FIGURE IT OUT, will take you?

 

FIGURE IT OUT on the album RIGHT NOW is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FIGURE IT OUT

 

shadow des plaines river trailwebsite box copy

 

figure it out/right now ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood