Relishing the Here and Now A revelation in the midst of Revolutions International Theater Festival

"Mirror Project: In the Dark" - Pyragraph

From Mirror Project: In the Dark, by Elsa Menendez, Dodie Montgomery, and guest artist Donna Jewell.

Guest Blogger Erin Phillips is an artistic core member of Tricklock Company, the host of Revolutions International Theater Festival.

It’s a little after 9pm on a Sunday evening. I’m sitting in the darkness of Tricklock Performance Laboratory’s office, a space merely separated from the rest of the theater by fabric screens, with my laptop perched atop two other laptops powering below it. Behind me is a pile of tacky, tawdry, hilarious costume pieces from last night’s show. There is some sort of bouncy dance music ebbing through the space, forcing energized meditation on the few of us left here. There are remnants of a wheel of brie and punch (and beer) that sit, waiting to get swept away.

We are tired. We are a tad overwhelmed. There is still one more week of the incredible madness that is Revolutions International Theater Festival, and if you look at our faces you can certainly see the effects of the first two.

"Mirror Project: In the Dark" - Pyragraph

From Mirror Project: In the Dark.

I want to find the word for the specific kind of joy and energy that comes from satisfying exhaustion, because whatever that word is, it has a grip on all of us tonight and it’s simply magical. This evening we presented the final installment of Excavations, Tricklock’s new-works-in-development series. These are always significant nights for us, offering us the chance to witness newly born projects by our creative family. Because the work of this festival is filled for all of us with myriad tasks that create intricate webs of responsibilities, it is as if the impact of Excavations remains theoretical for us. It is as if we need to be stopped, sat down, and given a stern talking-to that reminds us every year why we do what we do.

The term “artistic exchange” only partially communicates the significance of what occurs when you bring artists and art-lovers into a space together.

Sitting on the stage after the second premiere tonight, leading the talkback, I was brought to tears by the words of our Associate Artistic Director, Hannah Kauffmann, who said:

Excavations is always one of my favorite nights of the festival; the feedback we get here goes directly back into the rehearsal processes for the shows you’ve just seen. So really, this night and this feedback will be a part of this show’s entire lifespan. And there is such incredible diversity of voice in this conversation, from our local community and our international community—I’m so grateful. Thank you for spending your Sunday night with us.

"Rain Follows the Plow" - Pyragraph

From Rain Follows the Plow by Drew Morrison and Diana Delgado.

Through my tears (I sure didn’t try hard to deny they were there—what’s the point?), it occurred to me, like a burst of face-smacking light, that tonight’s gathering (I’m going to lend it more clout than just a “show”) could serve as a lens for the rest of the festival. Here is this group of people who have come together in this shared space and time in order to experience something that can only occur in the here and now. The diversity noted by Hannah—a mix of festival regulars, Tricklock devotees, guest artists from Uganda, Armenia, the United Kingdom, company members, volunteers, board members and collaborators—was simply astounding. Astounding, gratifying, humbling, mind-boggling and inspiring.

This is what it is all about: We make art to put out into the world. Yes, we make art for ourselves and for each other, but its home is in the minds and hearts of people, who, whether in our space in Downtown Albuquerque or the smoke-filled theater/bar in Poland, have chosen to spend their here and now with us, witnessing the outcome of our creative output.

Following the fractal direction of that intention to the curation and production of Revolutions, and the brand-new, upcoming Theatre Without Borders Symposium, I am reminded of the deeper meaning of the festival’s mission. The term “artistic exchange” can end up sounding like a trope, a sort of throw-away word that only partially communicates the significance of what occurs when you bring artists and art-lovers into a space together. The chance to look at one another in the face and commune over the experience you just shared is actually, with no exaggeration intended, quite priceless.

"Rain Follows the Plow" - Pyragraph

From Rain Follows the Plow by Drew Morrison and Diana Delgado.

Tonight I will go to sleep (eventually) with tired eyes, a to-do list that reads like a novel, a full-to-bursting heart, and the anchor of some deserving reminders: Relish the work created by your people; relish the work created by your tribe. It makes your fibers stronger, like a dose of vitamins that absorb on contact. Relish the here and now. Maybe if we all did that every day, our tired eyes and to-do lists would never win over our hearts.

Revolutions runs until February 1, 2015, with shows taking place all over Albuquerque. Check out the full calendar, and go buy your passports! Also, on the last weekend of the festival, Revolutions is uniting with Theatre Without Borders who ask, among other important questions, “What is the impact of our stories?”

Photos by Joanna Furgal.

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