ENDURE blog
Friday
Oct142011

Community Of Champions

The fall run of ENDURE has been humbling and encouraging in equal measure. Humbling because after coming off a summer of totally sold-out runs and piles of press, our fall shows are just now, after three weeks, beginning to pick up steam. With a long run of four shows per weekend, the sense of urgency falls away. Something else has to take its place and that thing is a mixture of time, patience, dogged effort and a little thing called word-of-mouth. 

This is all new to me. Not only am I the world's most impatient person, but I am (for better or for worse) personally fueled by urgency, adrenaline, panic and caffeine. This 'baby steps' business is outside my nature and my comfort zone. 

And this is where my producer Suchan should pipe up with a big, fat "I told you so." Because he did.

This is also the first piece of my creative work to endure (forgive me) in this way. My past projects have been one-offs and short runs, never to be revisited. This is my first project with real, ahem, legs. It's been an incredible experience to make something, premiere it, tour it and then put it up again. We're already planning and preparing for next year and taking steps to ensure the success of that, too. 

I'm proud of the commitment I've given and will continue to give this process. But, every step of the way has been a huge learning curve. And as I finally accept the fact that my push-push-push approach is not working, I notice an incredible new thing emerging.

I refer to it in my head as our community of champions. It's a small but growing group of people who are taking this show and running with it, gently and organically expanding its reach into this giant, anonymous, tough-as-nails town.

They are people like Julie, our first champion whose commitment to this show has been monumental. As in, we should make a monument in honor of her. I'm serious. Then there's Michael Rodgers from the Women's Sports Foundation – who we are just beginning an exciting relationship with (more on that soon). And Hilary who is celebrating her birthday next week by bringing a dozen friends to the show. I also just had the delightful experience of inviting a journalist to a performance who had already heard about the show from someone or somewhere else. 

Means it's happening. Whatever it is, it's happening.

This process reminds me of new grass. The way that little point of electrified green emerges, all tender and new, and gradually pushes upward, imperceptibly but steadily. You can't push new grass to get it to grow faster. You can't pull it, either. You have to just sit with it and be present and watch it slowly come up on its own.

This is how ENDURE will succeed. Expanding up and out, slowly but surely, from the same thing that makes grass grow. 'The force that through the green fuse drives the flower,' as Dylan Thomas would have it. 

I keep getting this message over and over from different sources and in different words: do less, be more. There is something to that and those who have seen the show know how it relates to the content of ENDURE. 

How do we expand into better versions of ourselves? How do we go the distance and get to where we want to go? By pushing and whipping and driving ourselves forward...or by that other force, that something else that comes through like new grass: gentle and steady.

There are still tickets available for this weekend's Saturday 3pm show (Oct 15) and Sunday 10am show (Oct 16). Would love to see you there!

Tuesday
Oct112011

The Best/Worst Thing About Runners

We've been reaching out to running teams and clubs because ENDURE is an incredible way to stoke the fire of marathon motivation. In fact, our friend Hilary wrote exactly that: "You will not get any better marathon motivation than you get from attending ENDURE."

We've also been reaching out to clubs because the New York area has fourteen thousand of them(1) and some of them contain the population of small cities.(2) 

But running groups are funny beasts. And the best part about them is also the toughest part about them (which is something I've been known to say about New York, actually). 

In the case of New York, the best/worst thing is that IT'S ALWAYS GOING ON. Whatever it is: noise, theatre, people, art, cars. It's always happening. Relentlessly so. 

In the case of running groups: they are tight communities. Great if you're on the inside, but tough if you're on the outside. Even tougher if what you're proposing is a little off the beaten path and might interrupt the sanctity of peaking for the marathon. Which is only 30 days away.

I'll give them that. 

But on the other hand, I made this show especially for them. 

ENDURE was created as a gift for runners. That is why I wrote it. That is how I perform it. And that is what I want to give to this running community as it counts down to its annual pilgrimage to the trial of miles on November 6th.

This show is a celebration and a validation of this probably-insane thing we love without measure. It's an homage to becoming a runner – because we were all non-runners once – and how far we've all come as a result. The things we've found in ourselves. The things we've healed in ourselves. The things running can't heal.

Because that's the other thing. The best/worst thing about runners is that they're obsessed. But, if you go too far down the running rabbit hole, your world shrinks into a tiny hamster wheel of eat-sleep-train and that's not completely cool, either. 

There are some amazing things going on in the world besides running and it would serve you as both a person and an athlete to experience them.

And here's the best/worst thing about ENDURE: it asks you to notice those things. To experience this show, you have to be still for a moment. To stop running and reflect, for an hour or so, on this obsession, this pilgrimage, this strange calling to run a really, really long way. 

It asks you to see running, yourself and even your city in a new light. And to do that, you've gotta be brave. Because outdoor immersive theater might be outside your comfort zone even if it is about running. And to experience it you might feel a little unstable some of the time. 

It's a workout that asks new things of muscles you might not be accustomed to working. Muscles of perception, awareness, abstraction. Muscles that don't bulge up from under your skin; ones that flex and stretch deep inside you.

But you're a runner! You know that pushing outside your comfort zone is how you get stronger and faster, how you become a better athlete. This is no different.

So, let's go. Runners Of The TriState Area: I challenge you. 

I challenge you to take a an hour and a half away from your training to engage in some extra-curricular activity. I challenge you to see this as a workout for your mind and your soul and I challenge you to allow this to be the coolest recovery workout you'll ever have. I challenge you to let me, some weirdo chick from Canada, give you this gift that I spent years in the crafting. A gift I traveled all the way from Canada to give you. Farther even...I traveled to Sweden and slept on an air mattress to create the music with Christine Owman.(5)

I challenge you to allow yourself to see your sport, your city and yourself in a profoundly new light. And, above all else, I challenge you to let go and have a little fun. Come on this adventure with me. You will not regret it.

Get your tickets here – there are only a few weekends left. 

 

(1) Possibly an overstatement. 

(2) Not an overstatement. The New York Road Runners has 500,000 members. Count those zeros, man. That's half the population of Calgary.(3)

(3) The city where I used to live before I became a homeless vagabond in New York.(4)

(4) I'm no longer homeless, actually. I moved into my apartment October 1st after six weeks of sleeping on couches, living out of a backpack and smelling like a horse stable.

(5) This vagabond-waif gig is only a phase. I swear.(6)

(6) Probably an overstatement.

Tuesday
Sep272011

Athletic Performance vs. Theatrical Performance

Throughout the summer shows, I approached my performance of ENDURE as though it was an athletic event. Like a 10k trail race or maybe the Olympic finals of a 50-minute off-road gymnastic floor routine. Each show, I endeavoured to do what I've done for every race I've ever been in: leave it all out there on the course. 

That's fine for the "A" race of the season, but doing that in the morning when I've got another at 3pm and then two more the next day, well...that's just dumb.

I came off the summer shows with a messed up ankle and a body that felt about 89 years old. I was sore and stiff all the time. I downed anti-inflammatories before I even got out of bed and hobbled around like I had stumps for legs. Coming back to NYC and facing an extended run with four shows per weekend scared the living crap out of me.

I was convinced I couldn't do it. And if I kept performing the way I had been, I'd be right.

My friend Donna, a contemporary dancer, has been telling me to "do less" since July. Each time she says it, my brain scrambles around trying to find the hidden meaning behind her simple words. 'Do less' doesn't make sense to me. Do more? Waaaaayyyyyy more? More than is necessary or even desirable? That's my style.

(And that's how I earned a left ankle made of broken glass.)

But if I continue on my usual path, I will crash and burn. So, I've been working on not working so hard. Finding ease and precision without killing myself every time I run the show. Understanding what it means to be a performer of athletic theatre as opposed to an athlete performing theatre. There's a difference. It's subtle but it might save my bacon.

I focus on being specific in my movement instead of filling every moment with as much effort as I possibly can. I'm trying to create a baseline physical state of relaxation, not tension. From a state of relaxation, I can make choices, but if I'm at 100% exertion at all times, there's nowhere to go from there.

It reminds me a little of this post, which I found through my brilliant friend Julie 'The Howitzer' Threlkeld, who I found through Google.

I need to give as clear a performance for my first show of the weekend as I do for the last. And I need to be ready to do it all again the next weekend. I'm one weekend and four shows into a long run. I gotta pace myself.

Also? I've been forbidden to do training runs outside the show to further prevent injury and burnout. This is making me insane. 

And it underlines a really great conversation I had with this great lady and that cool chick and this keeper over here after Saturday afternoon's performance. There was something in the way that these women related to ENDURE that made me realize how giant a role running plays in my/our mental health. It might scare me how important it is. More on this later. Meantime, I better hit the pool. 

And you better getcher damn tickets.
Wednesday
Sep212011

Survival Of The Fastest

First off, a huge, sweaty, sloppy kiss and hug to the 28 generous people who donated to our IndieGoGo campaign

We raised $2,000, enough to purchase about 20 iPods for the fall run, which means....and this is huge, people...audience members no longer have to pre-download the audio. No more iTunes futzing and midnight panic attacks, friends. WHOOO! We've developed a syncing device as well, so the 1-2-3-GO manual sync is over. We now have a more seamless and user-friendly system thanks to YOUR generosity (and Suchan's big brain). 

And it's all happening just in time for our OPENING THIS SATURDAY

Tickets are going fast already, so please don't wait to get yours. We've had some running groups inquire about buying up whole shows of tickets and if this summer has told me anything, it's that ENDURE tickets wait for no man. 

We've kept the schedule really simple for this run, so get 'em now or get left in the dust:

It's amazing to see how much Prospect Park has already changed since I left for Canada. The trees have all taken on the really beautiful dark green of late summer and I'm so excited to perform with them as they transform for the fall. Seeing the park evolve from the beginning of the run to the end of the run will be a magical experience.

We are finished re-staging the piece, too. We've made a few changes to the show based on what I learned touring it to Canada. Installing the show in different locations forced me to take a second look at the material, question the original assumptions and develop it further. I'm now bringing a more mature piece home to NYC and we're asking it to continue to grow. I hope some of you who saw it this summer come back and let us know what you think!

There is more exciting news a-brewing for ENDURE this fall, but you'll have to wait! The thing you shouldn't wait on is getting your tickets, dudes. Seriously. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Friday
Sep092011

A Double Shot Of BIG NEWS from ENDURE

Hi everyone. Miss me? Hell, I'VE missed me. 

After the wilds of Canada transformed into THE WARMEST AND MOST ENCOURAGING experience of all time with selling out shows and adding more shows and the most generous amount of media coverage a hometown-girl-made-good could hope for (four stars people, FOUR STARS)....I arrived back in New York just in time to not find an apartment and enjoy lack of Internet connection thanks to A Storm Named Irene.

But! None of that matters because I have big, huge news.

BIG NEWS #1: 
There are still seven glorious, bountiful days of generosity left to contribute to our IndieGoGo campaign to upgrade our audio system! 
For those of you who saw the show and were affected by it (and based on the number of tear-streaked faces I saw after the shows this summer, there were A LOT OF YA), this is your chance to pay it forward and help others experience ENDURE for themselves. We've got big plans for this show and we want to keep improving the audience experience in every way we can.

We're in the last big push and really need your help because....

BIG NEWS ITEM #2: 
ENDURE IS RE-OPENING ON SEPTEMBER 24TH!
Tickets go on sale Monday and I'm so freaking excited to be back in Prospect Park, it's bonkers. We're doing a good long run this time with two shows per day on Saturdays and Sundays, so if you missed us last time, now's your chance. And if you caught it last time, now's your chance to see how much the show has grown (and also to tell every single last one of your friends to get a ticket)!

More news will be coming soon, but be sure to contribute to the campaign, get your tickets on Monday and tell all your friends, running partners, neighbors, co-workers, fellow commuters, running shoe salespeople, coaches, personal trainers, locker room attendants, fellow people changing in the locker room (although not while they're naked) and everyone your lap at the track about the show that Stephen Hunt said was "as beautiful as the unconventional setting it unfolds in."
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