Tag Archives: hope

Frank Warren: PostSecret Live” Weds. Jan. 23, 2015-Royce Hall

(Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes)

In the last decade, PostSecret Project founder Frank Warren has received more than a million postcards. That is a staggering amount of secrets to imagine that one human is willing to assume compassionate responsibilty for. It is also a staggering example of the capacity for empathy we all possess.

The secrets have come from around the world, each bearing a secret the anonymous senders might otherwise never voice.

Hopes, fears, confessions, regrets, dreams, all captured on 4×6 cards that come pouring into Frank’s mailbox, and his home, every day.
Tonight, we’ll get to see some of the postcards that didn’t end up on the PostSecret website or in one of Frank’s books. But we haven’t all gathered here just to pull back the curtain on the lives of strangers. Frank will share what all those secrets have taught him about the unseen dramas unfolding all around us, and how they can help us be more compassionate.

We all feel the need to conceal parts of ourselves. Whatever our individual secrets may be, we each make daily decisions about what to share and what to hide, which doors to open and which to keep locked.

Here at the Center, we believe in opening doors. We believe in creating a space where we can share an experience, and be reminded that our own most personal truth can be recognized in the unlikeliest of places. Each time an artist takes the stage, it’s an invitation to make a connection. PostSecret reminds us that the act of sharing a secret, on an anonymous postcard or in front of a crowd, is just another kind of invitation to connect, another door being thrown open.

Inspired by PostSecret, we’ve been collecting anonymous answers to the question, What’s the Boldest Thing You’ve Ever Done? Hundreds of cards were dropped into collection boxes across campus over the last few months. They are on display tonight in the lobby. Some, no doubt, carry secrets. All of them help us to see someone else’s life through their own eyes.

We hope you’ll share your boldest moment, public or private, by submitting your own card before you leave tonight.

We’re honored to have Frank Warren here, and to share this evening of insight and discovery with you. Thanks for being here, and for bringing your curiosity and your compassion.

We hope you leave with a new door open.

Bringing ‘Peace & Quiet’ to Campus

I am a civilian. 

I am a veteran.

Two stacks of small, white note-cards, each printed with the above words.  On each card, underneath the printed words are handwritten responses:

I am a civilian, and I want to ask…what did you witness?

I am a veteran, and I wish the world worked in a way that no one needed an army.

civilian

These cards were part of a public installation called Peace and Quiet. Conceptualized and designed by Matter Architecture Practice, the original Peace & Quiet was installed in Times Square in 2012 as a temporary dialogue station where veterans and civilians, two groups whose paths increasingly do not cross – could engage in conversation, leave a note, share a story, or just shake hands.  When the Center committed to presenting the Los Angeles premiere of Basetrack, a live performance piece featuring the real-life stories of servicemen and women; I began doing research into art projects that explored the veteran/civilian experience in new ways, and after much searching, I found Peace & Quiet.  Luckily, Sandra and Alfred, Matter’s Co-Directors were willing and eager to revisit the project, so Peace & Quiet will have a new life: re-designed and installed on the UCLA Quad, between the iconic Royce Hall and Powell Library.  The quad, one of UCLA’s great public spaces, provides an ideal circumstance to host a dialogue station, to initiate and inform an exchange of ideas, and to offer a highly visible hub highlighting the many programs UCLA offers the veteran community.

Last month, before a meeting with the team from Matter, I stood at the northern edge of the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where Matter has their studio.  The sky was impossibly clear and blue for an August day in New York, a vibrant backdrop for the Yard’s 200-year-old buildings, which stood their ground next to new construction. Established by President John Adams in 1801, the Yard’s first naval ship was built and launched to suppress the slave trade off the coast of Africa.

navyyard2

 

I am a civilian. 

I am a veteran.

Our country’s relationship to conflict is deep and complicated.  At the tip of the Naval Yard, surrounded by the bridges that connect Brooklyn to Manhattan, I hoped that our version of Peace & Quiet will be its own bridge: connecting stories, revealing history, closing the gap.

For more information on the upcoming Peace & Quiet installation click here.

For more information and tickets to our presentation of Basetrack Live, click here.

Help get the dialogue going by participating in our Peace & Quiet tumblr. We’re starting with the concept of service. Share a thought or a quote or a video or photo that answers the question “How do you serve?”

More than Words…

This week at CAP UCLA we are proud to present two unique programs that explore compelling landscapes in musical theater and dance through the art of monologue. These creative and authentic artists harness the spoken word form in ways that will stir your soul—with Young Jean Lee’s WE’RE GONNA DIE (starting Wednesday) and Jerome Bel’s Cedric Andrieux (Saturdaynight).

Words have power, I believe. The power to tell stories, reveal truths and inspire true human connection. Thinking about these two shows made me think about an interview I heard not too long ago between Michael Silverblatt and Aleksander Hemon. The Bosnian author was talking about his book, “The Book of My Lives,”which contains a personal and very emotional remembering of the loss of his daughter. In the interview the author talked about how he was confronted by a friend at that time who said: “words fail in these situations.”

No, Hemon said. Being a writer, he has belief in words. Words don’t fail, he said. Platitudes do. Empty phrases that don’t instigate connection or communication fail. But thoughtful, reflective words with meaning behind them, those can heal, those can inspire.

What you’ll find here at CAP UCLA this week and weekend is a fulsome sense of the power of words, within the context of the art of performance. And you’ll be in great hands.

Young Jean Lee is a trailblazing New York theater maker. She comes to Los Angeles for the first time with a profound and acutely realized collection of songs and stories about loneliness, loss and pain, alchemized into a surprisingly uplifting performance that might just leave us more hopeful, more connected, more compassionate and more understanding of our shared human experience.

Young Jean Lee recently told LA Weekly that she conceived this work as sort of self-therapy.

“My father had just died,” she remembers. “I tell the story in the show — he died in such a horrible way that I was so traumatized and felt completely isolated from everybody. And then I was thinking, when you’re in that place, where you’re in so much pain that nobody can reach you, I was like, ‘What can be of comfort then?'”

Saturday night we bring another perspective on the human experience—our inclination to strive for success, for expression, for joy and for creative pursuit.

We bring to the Royce Hall stage an incredibly intimate examination of the inspirations and challenges behind the growth and success of one artist—named for and performed by celebrated French dancer Cédric Andrieux. Part spoken word, part solo dance performance, this work by famed French choreographer Jerome Bel, reveals the experiences that propel and compel an artistic life.

In a nakedly honest moment on the stage, the former Merce Cunningham company dancer Andrieux tells us the stories of his life, his loves and his frustrations. Andrieux and Bel invite the audience to embrace the role of avid and confidential spectator, not just of one immediate evening of performance, but of one artist’s personal evolution.

Typically in dance performance, the movement speaks volumes. But in this penetrating performance, the words carry weight and power to build an aesthetic bridge between artist and audience.
It’s a rare and magical insight into what goes on behind the curtain and inside the heart and mind of an artist.

At one point in the performance Andrieux admits: “This solo, for me, it’s thinking about 20 years of my life, through what I have done in dance. I realized I had never spent that much time thinking of what I had done and why I had done it.”

Working with Jerome on this solo allowed Cedric to do just that–and he quite movingly shares the revelations this process has wrought for him.

So, if you also, often consider why you do the things you do, if you ever wonder how to deal with pain and loss, if you are into the kind of thoughtful, reflective moments that might just help us all remember how much more we belong to one another than not, please do join us for Young Jean Lee and Cedric Andrieux this week.

Notes from Kristy: Thinking of Lou Reed

As I write this, I feel a combined sensation of a need to honor and a gut filled sorrow from the loss of a truly great artist, Lou Reed. Having received countless messages, I am expressing on behalf of many the acute sensation of longing which comes to the surface when we lose someone who inspired us deeply. Importantly also, is a shared depth of gratitude for his contributions in so many ways to our collective experience through his poetry, music and spirited fullness. I offer our support, condolence and sincere compassion to Laurie Anderson most especially, and the many extended friends and loved ones of Lou’s who are and will be grieving the most, while undoubtedly celebrating his incredible life in the days and months to come. Our hearts are with you each and every one.

At the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA we honor and acknowledge the life work of many esteemed artists, at various stages within their careers and within their evolving projects and ideas. It’s in times like this that I can be grateful to know that our mission and purpose matters to many artists the world over, while at the same time I cannot help but feel overwhelmed at how much more we need to be doing to change the culture that supports the incredible possibility of greatness within artists so that they can thrive, contrive and inspire us all with what it means to be truly human in the bigness of our tiny world together.

I am struck in the media and press coverage surrounding the news of Lou Reed’s passing, that there is a tremendous articulation of his impact and artistic output — credit authentically coming where credit is authentically due. Occasionally these testimonials are flavored with the mention of his work not garnering substantial “commercial success” (however deserved).

To which I can only really offer this — if the allure for artists to deeply excavate our human truths and give them form, was motivated by commercial success alone, the songlines of our heritage would be thin indeed. I ponder this duality often in my own role as an artistic director where I am requested to deftly straddle the active importance of putting a spotlight on the artistic integrity of artists and their art, with the pressure to deliver the somewhat more comforting nuances of assured familiarity and easily knowable outcomes on behalf of another kind of measurement of “success.”

Instead, because of artists like Lou Reed, like Laurie Anderson, like their contemporaries, and the great many artists I have the deep pleasure of working with, not only are our songlines profoundly strengthened, but so too are the tools we have to bolster our awareness of what it means to be “AWAKE” in the world while we inhabit it.

So in honor of Lou Reed, and in service to our communities of artists – I feel compelled to simply say…thank you. Thank you, Lou for expanding the fence line of the familiar and allowing the creative terrain for our souls to wander well, regardless of ever being in full possession of a known outcome at the outset of your own path.

—K