Where dreams flourish

FullSizeRender 9I lost myself to a dream two weeks ago when I watched acrobats perform in Compagnia Finzi Pasca’s “La Verità” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I rediscovered unencumbered childhood delight and wonder, and laughter that rises up just because without any strings attached–no sarcasm, no wry humor–just pure laughter. All of it derived from watching comical dances, contortionists, musicians, dancers, and aerialists fly, embrace, swing, and spin.

In addition to the performers, a Salvador Dali painting, which takes up the entire stage on a huge canvas, divides the acts. There are the performances that happen in front of the curtain where the actors engage with the audience to make sense of what is happening and why the painting exists. And then there are the magical scenes that happen once the large painting disappears where Dali-esque like images parade around on the stage. And some elements of the painting come to life such as a red cane and dandelion heads.

The painting was originally created for Léonide Massine’s 1944 ballet “Mad Tristan.” In it one figure clutches its bony ribs while the other extends skeletal hands. One figure has a dandelion head while the other has branches growing out of its’ crown. To me the painting represents life and death and its presence raises the question of what’s real–the show in front or behind the curtain? What’s real, the bamraku puppet or the contortionist who twists his body just like it?

The performance inspired me to think about what grows at the edge of imagination. How as artists and writers, we can draw on fantastic elements only witnessed in dreams and somehow make them a reality in our creative productions–what we put on the page or the stage.


Capturing loss and uncertainty


Artwork by Narciso Espiritu of Instigatorzine for the play, “Dissecting Lily.”

Through words, film, and artwork, the play “Dissecting Lily,” captures the sense of loss and uncertainty that invades a community after a teenage suicide. A fellow classmate—somewhat obsessed with her—interviews friends and family in an effort to make a tribute video. Along the way, details begin to unfold, and the scenes begin to unlock the mystery behind her death. Footage of Lily during and in between the scenes reveals more pieces of the puzzle including a surprise turn at the end.

Narciso Espiritu of Instigatorzine did an amazing job with the artwork. In his ethereal depiction, he managed to evoke the essence that is Lily.

As a collaborative effort among Jersey City Writers, “Dissecting Lily,” presents a unique attempt to bring the diverse skills, perspectives, and styles of various writers into one cohesive story. The project grew out of a writing exercise where each writer responded to the suicide in the form of a character. The characters manifested a range of emotions that usually accompanies death from blame to guilt to anger to sadness. For Shane, the obsessed classmate, he begins with the fundamental question, “why?”

“Dissecting Lily,” is currently being performed at StageFest in Jersey City at Loew’s Theatre. It was wonderful to see it manifest in front of a standing room only audience last night. As a contributing writer and a cast member, I was happy to see some of the reactions. I played the role of Vicki Neruda, a reporter who introduces the tragedy in a brief video clip at the beginning.

I wrote the scene for Ms. Alvarez, the biology teacher. She is filled with blame and guilt because she didn’t pick up on the bullying that was taking place in her classroom. For Ms. Alvarez, Lily faded into the background after she became disengaged, after began to retreat from the world.

“Dissecting Lily,” will be performed again tonight. For ticket information, visit: http://loewsstagefest.brownpapertickets.com/.