The Body Barrier Chronicles – For De Pips

The gang’s back together for a second run of the play ‘Body=Barrier’. And we had an interesting conversation about what the characters were really up to, and what was their motivations for doing the things that they were up to. These things are always meaningful parts of the rehearsal process, not only because you get to hear what the actors think about the folks that they are playing, but because you get to hear how people are interacting with the character and what they receive. Most of the cast, I thought, would say that the humans in the play were interested in compensating for a Love or a longing of some sort. They didn’t.
Instead, they said that what the characters do is nothing more than an image statement.

Now, I’m not sure whether I agree with them. Angela, for instance, isn’t really that egotistic…but they’re on to something to some degree. After all, Angela has every opportunity to admit to herself that she’s not interested in the same things as her classmates, and just leave it at that. But she always finds herself wanting to go back, simply because she wants the attention of these people.
So many people around us are simply doing things for the image value of the thing – what we Trinis call ‘pips’. We don’t smoke weed because we think that it’s got spiritual value or will heighten an experience of some sort. We smoke it because it’s got some social value to us. We think it helps us have more fun, and connect to a group of people we want to connect to more. we smoke it because of the culture and community it connects us to, regardless of the fact that the community probably doesn’t benefit us in a great many ways…

It’s the same way that young people approach a lot of things in this world today, at least from what my cast and I imagine. What most people don’t realize is that the teenage years are the ones where community and association are incredibly important. In fact, how we make friends in high school determines what we think about ourselves and even who we think we are. And beyond the fact that we know that it’s not healthy, we still do most of our things to fit in with the mindless mob.

When you look at it that way, it’s very likely that everyone’s a victim, isn’t it? The bullies, cool kids, troublemakers…all the cliques you remember making your life difficult in school, they were just trying to get by in a system that is manoeuvred by a person’s social standing in the group. And we’d do anything not to have our lives made difficult. So we try to get with the cool kids, or sometimes we become bullies and troublemakers. We do what they do, and try to do it how they do it, so that we can get where they are.
Angela, the main character of ‘Body=Barrier’, is a complex character. In my heart of hearts, I think that she knows that she has no right in this place, with these people. She’s not into the things that these people are into. But the problem is, the place that she is truly supposed to be isn’t physical. So she’s…trapped there, in a sense, trying to make the best out of a place where she simply does not fit in. And, considering how the human psyche works, everyone needs community, even Angela. So she tries to find it in this place, even though it’s not what she needs. It’s about Angela feeling Loved. But, maybe more importantly, it’s about her feeling as though she’s here, and that it matters that she’s here.

I want the play to break that system playing in young kids’ minds – that they have to do things they’re not ready for or aren’t supposed to do simply because the folks in school are doing it and they seem to be having a good time. Good times don’t determine good things. Good work and good reasons do. And I want all the Angelas that see the play to find good reasons for themselves and their lives and the people they allow into them, not just ‘for de pips’.

The Body Barrier Chronicles – Faith Ain’t Straight and Narrow

Shawn Smart and I just finished ‘2 Creations’, and I must say it truly was a spiritual experience… The production tested some wills, had it’s own fair share of trials, almost made some folks sin their souls, and at the end the entire play came down to faith. We had never done a full run of the play, had no idea of some of the cues, never even had a real dress rehearsal. But at the end of the day, when the lights were on and showtime began, it was a blast.

That’s the first lesson I’ve learned from directing – have faith. Continue reading

The Body Barrier Chronicles: Faithful Play, Faithless Director

The ticket for my play '2 Creations'. If you're interested, I've got some!

The ticket for my play ‘2 Creations’. If you’re interested, I’ve got some!

When I jumped on board a project to write and direct a Christian play with a mentor and friend of mine, I knew it was going to be hard. I signed on, because it was already something I was doing as a personal project – ‘Body=Barrier’. I was excited to see whether my own writing was up for the challenge, and whether I could direct something that was not only outside my experience but was an experience that I rejected in my own life so long ago.

Turns out that’s not the problem at all… Continue reading

The Anatomy of an Idea

Over the weekend, I was at a friend’s house avoiding the perilous feelings attached to loneliness. I wanted some time away from the things and people that were¬†making¬†my heart feel heavy, but at the same time couldn’t stand the idea of being by myself. So I spent the two days playing video games, talking nonsense and creating an atmosphere of happiness around me. Well, trying…

On the Sunday evening, when I was about to leave, my friend and I ended up having a weird conversation about whether a certain video game was part of our real lives, as students and young adults learning and trying to get a job and earn a living. What followed was a two-hour long conversation about a TV show script we then decided to write with each other.

Some artists – writers, painters, musicians or whoever else – tend to sit and dare themselves to create. They challenge themselves to make something they’ve never made before, or to push forcefully past a writer’s block or a creative rut. And sometimes that works, regardless of whether they like what they create. But, most times, the idea that grips you the most is the one that comes to you in the lightest and most enjoyable moments. Like when you’re just having a conversation with friends about something completely outlandish, only to realize that it could make sense if you did certain things to it and that others would find it just as interesting as you would.

So I’m in the process of writing a screenplay for this incredibly crazy idea, that weirdly enough is the only idea to my knowledge that I’ve been so excited to start. Hopefully, I’ll make a lot more progress than I usually do, and maybe even get a chance to share a few pages here with you guys when I have..well, a page.

Moral of the story; don’t force it. Nothing’s wrong with pushing yourself to make sure you can get out of the rut, but there’s often times more value in the cute little brainchild that sneaks up behind you and tugs at your shirt.