Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The lessons that I encountered at LUME on a artistic and personal level brought light into many areas of my life. Never mind "the Americans" who only spoke English and had limited understanding, the generosity given by of those who translated for us was heartwarming in addition to the gestures of welcome and overextending accommodation.

What I found wonderful about LUME was the careful thought that went into the whole workshop experience: the ability to buy lunch and dinner in the kitchen, the nightly demonstrations, the parade/carnival, the desire to include the larger community, the chance to perform something/anything. Most of this came as a surprise for me since I only expected to attend the workshops and bought my plane ticket with this understanding.

The second workshop with Naomi was more difficult for me...There might have been a few reasons for this one being the language barrier...but as earnest as I was to learn LUME's method I don't believe I started to understand until more towards the second half of the workshop. I learned about the "personal dance" and bit more about the history of the method which was very helpful for me to enter into the work. I learned many things from Naomi, Her class challenged me and took me beyond my limits which honestly have never been tested before in that way. I learned that confusion should not allow you to freeze as a performer and you should take that and use it, take it and discover something new and use that to express. Make it a part of your life experience and put it in your tool box. A performer is a vessel that molds and expresses and shares their emotions, their body, their ideals, their thoughts, their world view...with playfulness and openness.

- vanessa

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Then there was one.

Galen left on February 24th and to be honest I miss him. I like traveling with him. He is fun and it is nice to have a melancholic comrade. I try to tell myself that I´m not a meloncholic person. But I am. It is good to be reminded of who we are. As far as where I am... I am in this beautiful paridise... Natal. North East Brazil. On the Coast.

The beach is strewn with tourists and I hate it. I also love it because it means that it is a little safer than living in the city or one of the suburbs and I can go out at night without as much fear of being robbed. (I only say this because every local I talk to warns me of this) I try not to think about it too much, because as much as I believe it is great to be aware of your surroundings, I also believe that you manifest what you are thinking about. So if I am worried all day about getting robbed the moment I step outside, I probably will. Needless to say, so far so good. In a few days I will travel South and make my way back to Sao Paulo for my plane ride back home. I have posted a ton of photos on flickr. here´s the link... http://www.flickr.com/photos/34326624@N02/ it is completely out of any sort of order and I have not had a chance to do much cleaning up. I still have more to upload, but I have spent as much time in this internet hut/tattoo parlor than I can handle. The electronica is nice, but it is time to go.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

And then two more were in Rio

Noah and I just arrived in Rio de Janeiro. We marched around with the bands this morning and then chased a crowded and dirty bloco in Jardim Botanico where our host Diana lives. She's our friend from Lume, an actress in Rio, and one of the early birds of the carnaval. Today she woke us at 6:30 and we arrived to almost entirely empty streets.

There will be pictures in the future when I can get internet access on my computer. On friday, Megan, Noah, and I participated in a great parade/exchange with Lume. Similar to a Bloco in some ways, it was a parade between theaters in Barao Gerlado. It was excellent, and there are a number of nice pictures that Mr. Jon Ferguson took. This was followed by the most amazing Samba band. About 12 drumers and a number of other musicians. I was about to go out for food when the drums beat together and I was physically compelled to the dance floor! It touches you in belly, on the souls of your feet, and most in your heart.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back From Rio de Janiero

So mom and Thomas and I headed to Rio de Janiero for our 4-day break.  We couldn't come to Brazil and not see Rio, could we?  So we forged out against our N. American neuroses (ooh... favelas... danger... drugs... City of God...) and discovered for ourselves one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  It's late here, so I am going to be pithy with only our highlights and lowlights of the adventure.  You can decided which are which.

Megan's Highlights and Lowlights, in no particular order:
*Visiting BIBI juices four times in three days, and getting multiple juices each time: acai, goiba, morango, manga, abacaxi, carambola, cupuacu, amora, acerola, and others I'm forgetting right now.
*Monkey at the Jardim Botanico!
*Most colorful and artful grafitti I've ever seen... covers almost every surface in the city.
*Air conditioning, no dogs barking and a curious lack of mosquitoes.
*Diana (one of our classmates) and her parents' generosity of living quarters, time, knowledge and English-speaking skills during our visit.
*The view from the Christ the Redeemer hill
*The best brand name ever: Personal VIP.  It's toilet paper.  So awesome.
*Ipanema and Thomas's laughs every time the waves hit his feet.
*The neeeeeeeeeevvvvvveeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrr-eeeeennnnnnnnnnnnnddddddddinnnnnnnnnggggg bus ride back to Barao Geraldo.
*Taxi ride through St. Theresa neighborhood... it felt a lot like San Francisco, just a little more down on its luck.  I want to stay here on my next visit.
*First taxi driver in Rio ran off with mom's money.  Seriously not cool.  You've got some bad karma now, fella.
*Caipirinha, how I love thee.

Thomas's Highlights, in no particular order:
*Pretty Ladies who smile and blow kisses at me everywhere we go.

Okay, to sleep now.  Our new class starts tomorrow and we've been warned that we will hurt.

boa noite,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


We are done with Technical Training for the Actor II! A wonderful course that I would recommend to any performing artist.

The leader, Jesser, is a very special instructor. The combination of rigor and compassion and intuition and wisdom I have found in my experience to be very rare and I feel fortunate to have participated in this workshop not only for Jesser's thoughtful instruction but also additionally for the unique content of the course. Technical Training for the Actor II breaks down for the participant some very difficult concepts to understand as a performer in a very practical, applicable way. This course speaks to the basic concepts of a performer's work - how to create intension within the performer's body towards expression.

As someone who is recovering from knee surgery, a sprained ankle, and a severely strained foot, I learned once again to empower by body and mind through courage, play, and action.

"There is a vitality, a life force, and energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost." -Martha Graham

The photos attached is the dinner that the class went to after the course was over. The person with Galen in the red shirt is Jesser. I unfortunately don't have any really good photos right now. They all seem to be blurry and hopefully Galen will put up some of his soon.



Tuesday, February 10, 2009

from one of the largest cities on the planet...


Well, I've been here in Brazil since January 28th, and it's the 10th today, so I suppose that makes it 14 days. Two weeks. Time is flying. Brazil is a beautiful country. People are friendly and helpful and always willing to try to understand my broken Portuguese. Which is nice because I really stumble thru it. We've finished our 1st class. "technical training for the actor II" on Sunday. It was an amazing experience. In essence, it was actor training in the methodology of how Lume creates work. The type of lessons, the professor's insights and all the participants pushing themselves further and further each day was inspiring and unforgettable. Our next class begins on Friday. It is called, "from Energy to Action" I think it will be very rigorous. The professor is an amazing performer herself and I think she will pass on her excitement and commitment to us. In the mean time, Galen and I are in Sao Paulo. Yesterday we explored the city a bit. It is surprisingly clean, green and easy to navigate. There was a law passed recently that required all billboards be taken down. it really is noticible how the beauty of the city comes out when the clutter of signs are removed. Today we are going to cach a bus and travel to a small town on the beach called Itamambuca near Parati. And if we don't make it today, we'll go tomorrow. We are supposed to catch the noon bus and it is already after ten. We move kind of slow. It must be all the yucca.

I am slowly learning portuguese and even hired a woman to teach me one on one. It is a difficult language, but I feel like I'm gettng better at it and most important more confident and comfortable. Besides, if I can't communicate with language, I mime it, or act it out. That usually works too. And it's entertaining to watch a really tall and very pale gringo acting silly.

Well, I need to get going, the cidade awaits.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Audience Participation

So last night my mom kindly put Thomas to bed so that I could go see a street theater show in downtown Campinas.  This show was a part of the same festival that brought Gob Squad (well, a Brazilian group of actors trained by Gob Squad) for their opening night show: Feverestival.  THIS show was by a Sao Paulo company called A Brava Companhia.  The show was apparently was about Joan of Arc,  although I really couldn't get the details since the whole thing was obviously in Portuguese (I understood "Jingle Bells" and "Johnny Walker Red Label," although I don't know what those had to do with the show).  Despite the language  barrier, I really enjoyed it; the performers were playful, physically present and multi-talented... singing, dancing, drumming, blowing fire, etc...

I have to admit, however, that the most memorable part came with a little unplanned audience participation.  There was a lot of drumming going on and all of a sudden a woman ran and jumped into the playing space with her shopping bag.  She threw herself on the ground and solemnly gave a shoe box to the young actress who was alone in the space, kneeling on the ground.  The actress stayed present and I began to wonder if this was all a part of the show.  The woman was speaking in Portuguese, and began rolling on the concrete like she was in an intermediate modern class at Zenon.  At around this time, I could see the other audience members faces going from amused to shocked -- perhaps because they could understand what she was saying?  She then began pulling on the skirt of the actress and when the actress tried to pull it back, the woman became violent... trying to hit her and then she threw the rest of her shopping bag out into the audience, hitting some people.  I was sitting on the ground in the front row so I, and everyone around me, stood up in case things got uglier.  Audience members quickly jumped into the playing space to grab the woman who was very very angry and upset, violently trying to get away from them.  They finally managed to remove her from the space and, although you could still hear her agitating behind us, the show continued.

One of my classmates, Vivi, later explained that it seemed that she was in a trance, induced by all the drumming.  Vivi guessed that the woman was a follower of vodun or cadomble and that she thought the actress was her dead daughter.  What's even more interesting is that today in class Galen started to tell Jesser, our instructor, about the incident and Jesser's first question was something like, "was it because of the performance?" Several classmates responded, "yes, there was a lot of drumming," and that seemed to answer his question sufficiently.  I think it's fascinating that in Brazil, this would be someone's first assumption -- not mental illness, drugs, or simply a case of an audience member being mischievous.

Anyways, last class of "Technical Training for the Actor 2" is tomorrow.  We LASers are the only people staying on for another workshop and I will be sad to say goodbye to everyone tomorrow: Jean, Isabel, Alfonso, Rodrigo, Diana, Marianna, Yaska, Umberto, and Vivi.  I have enjoyed getting to know all of them.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You might notice that on most of these blogs we have not talked about the workshops we are taking! The reason being is that one of the class rules is that we are not supposed to comment on the class until the workshop is over. This Sunday is that last day of the Technical Training for the Actor II. Only at this point can we comment on our experience with that class. We will then have four days to do anything we want and then take Energy to Action with Naomi. 

Every night since Monday there has been demonstrations and presentations (mostly in Portuguese which has been a big difficult for us English speakers. We are the only foreigners here taking LUME workshops that I am aware of right now. There was supposed to be another American here but for some reason she didn't come. 

The people we/I have encountered have been truly gracious and accepting of our lack of Portuguese language. Basically everyone in our class speaks some English and are very helpful and giving of their time and friendship especially outside of class when we are talking with non-english speakers. 

The photos attached is the opening of the teatro festival. It was a German and English group named Gob Squad - the piece entitled Super Night Shot. The work came to Minneapolis through the Walker Art Center last year I believe. Galen out of the four of us saw it. 

The other photo is of Casa Sao Jorge - which is a Samba club that I have been to three times this week:) I love the Samba. This is the after party for the festival. 


Agua de Coco

This is indeed a large coconut with a straw in it.  Delicious and refreshing - Agua de Coco.  And that skeptical look on my face you see is not because the nourishing refreshment of the agua is not a pleasure.  It's because Noah is interrupting my pleasure.

The tropical fruits available are amazing.  The workshop is also very good, but seriously the fruit is a wonder - especially after a couple of weeks in New York Mills where despite best efforts the fruit selection is limited do to extreme cold and harsh conditions that just don't exist here.  It seems to almost never get below freezing in Brazil - especially not here.  

We've also been blessed with amazing rain showers almost every day.  They pound down for 20 minutes or so, and the past two days they rain has poured while the sun still shines.  The smell after one of these sun showers is pure earthy clean.  I will drink another agua de coco to that!


Monday, February 2, 2009

yesterday's wall, today's flow

So if you read the end of yesterday's post, you probably already got the gist of why I hit the wall yesterday.  The only thing I left out was the fact that most sidewalks in Barao Geraldo either slope at a precarious 30-45-degree angle, or they stop suddenly with various weeds (my mom commented that most of the weeds here would make lovely houseplants at home), construction projects or simply the decision that no sidewalk was needed for that stretch of the road.  That made the walk home with Thomas's stroller and thirteen tons of groceries in flimsy plastic bags even more difficult and frustrating.  I loudly complained to mom that "this is hell," not realizing until too late that I was right in front of a packed church with its doors open.

Today, however, was much MUCH better.  We took a slow and lazy morning, introduced Pedro to French Toast and then napped with Thomas.  After waking, I made lunch and then headed up to LUME for the day's class.  Another excellent one, barely interrupted by the massive rainstorm that caused the workspace's roof to spring a few leaks.  Then... mom and Thomas joined us at LUME for a spaghetti dinner (I don't know how they spell it, but Brazilians pronounce it as spaghettch, which I think is perfect).  The evening's entertainment was the premiere party of LUME's new DVD box set -- Thomas was completely enraptured with the music.  It wasn't samba, but something like it -- I can't remember what Jesser said it was -- but it had flute, guitar, a little ukelele-looking instrument, very intricate tambourine work, and a vocalist.  Beautiful.  A want it for my ring tone.

And now, back home, ready for tomorrow.  I hope you don't tire of reading my accounts in the blog.  I think I'm the only LAS-er with easy wireless access.

And yes, I'll try to find a digital camera!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Staying at Pedro's

So I hit the wall today, physically and mentally.  I will definitely, well maybe, write about this tomorrow, when I have a little space between me and the day, but I figure I'd take the minute to describe where we're staying.

LUME first arranged for all of six us (Galen, Vanessa, Noah, my mom, Thomas and me) to stay in the 2-bedroom home of Bella and Jasmine, a lovely woman and her 11 year-old daughter.  The two of them are great, but their house was a little too small for Thomas to have any room to run around.  And anyone who has ever babysat Thomas knows that this is a necessity.  And then we found out that there would be three more people moving into the house, AND three people camping out on her back patio.  So mom and Vanessa and I decided to look for another option.  Galen and Noah are staying at Bella's...

You might remember hearing about Pedro from one of Galen's posts.  He's one of LUME's producers and a jovial English-speaking guy who will soon be moving to Sao Paulo to join his wife, an actress.  He invited any of us to stay in his spare bedroom so mom and I took him up on it.  Vanessa decided to stay at another family's home whose daily price included breakfast and dinner... I'll let her describe it if she'd like.

Anywho, Pedro's house is notable for more than its wireless internet.  He lives in a neighborhood of Barao Geraldo that is reachable only by dirt road, thanks to the insistence of its residents.  After these days and days of rain, it is one mud puddle after another -- you can imagine us pushing our Maclaren down the road every day.  The entrance to the neighborhood is through a psychedelic public garden that was built up by an elderly woman... imagine a ton of mosaic tiles, Christmas lights, tropical plants, and wooden furniture (including a wood slat hammock!).  Kind of like a rustic Parc Guell.  It's pretty great.  Every night when we come home there are 2 twenty-somethings smoking pot at one of the a picnic tables.  I can't imagine a more appropriate place to do that.  I will definitely try to fanagle a way to get a photo of the garden because I can tell you'd like to see it. (damn me forgetting to bring the digital camera)...

Okay that's all for now.  I am now going to try to find a home for the R115 worth of food that mom and I bought at the grocery tonight, forgetting that we had to walk it all back to the house.  That is only reachable by muddy dirt road.  With Thomas and the stroller and the diaper bag and our purses.  After four hours of intense exercise and no food.  Understanding hitting the wall now?

boa noite,

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thomas loves Samba

As many of you know, I came to Brazil with my mom and Thomas, my 14 month-old son.  I was nervous about the journey with Thomas, but he was absolutely incredible.  He slept through the entire plane ride and seemed excited by getting to ride in a bus and a taxi without a car seat.  And now that we are here in Barao Geraldo (a small city outside of Campinas), he is loving it.  I think Brazil is an ideal place for a little kid, in fact.  The people are seriously some of the most friendly I've ever met.  Haven't met a single grumpy Brazilian.  The juices (suco) are freshly pureed from all sorts of fresh tropical fruit, which he loves.  His favorite so far is guava (goiba), followed closely by strawberry and mango (not as much of a fan of pineapple).  And the food is an ideal combo of fish and chicken and eggs and he likes the bread that isn't of wheat -- it's made out of manioc flour instead.  Oh and then there are all the dogs and cats and little Brazilian kids who play with him quite openly and happily.  Every day he makes a new playmate.

But the title of my first post refers specifically to tonight.  All of us LASers had dinner at a little cafe near LUME, joining up with a large group of students who are taking the Street Theater workshop (another class offered by LUME).  There were probably ten Brazilians at the table, all singing various samba songs, complete with percussion by a tambourine, little egg shakers, and some hand clapping that produced sounds that I'd never heard before.  Thomas TOTALLY grooved on this.  He would hold onto something and squat repeatedly, wiggle his butt, shake his head and occasionally drum on chairs with his hands.  I think it blew his mind.  I'm pretty sure Galen took some photos of the occasion, so hopefully he will post some of them.

Okay, that's all for now.  I can add that it's true our instructor has given us the rule that we cannot discuss the contents of the class until it is over.  Not even with each other.  LUME stresses that the classes are for our own individual experience and discussing it opens up both the possibility of being tainted by someone else's perception and that trying to put it into words means that we are beginning to analyze, rather than experience, it.  But after ten days...we can open the flood gates!

But the class is going really well.  Hopefully that doesn't give away too much.

Loving Brazil.... Megan

Dinner with Pedro

Here we are at Pantanal with Pedro - Lume´s producer. It was excellent food (mostly fried) with good beer. We´re into the second day of the workshop, and Jesser (our teacher) has instructed us not to talk about what we are doing, so I´ll abstain for now. It´s alternately rainy and sunny and the red clay dirt is very wet!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

We are all here! In Brazil. Galen and I spent 24hrs. traveling by car, by plane, by three different kinds of buses and now we are here at LUME. We will be attending a class by Jesse - I believe it is called Acting for the performer II. We are not supposed to try and schedule anything after the workshop since we are supposed to be exhausted by the end. 

The area is beautiful, full of life, green, and fresh air.

It is a by a miracle that I am even here today. I spent the last hour before I was supposed to head to the airport waiting for the FedEx person to deliver my VISA. I was supposed to get it that morning before I headed out at 2pm but he delivered it to the wrong place. I then get to the airport and discover that my plane flight is canceled. However Galen happened to run into me and he urge them to transfer my ticket to his airline. 



Monday, January 26, 2009

This is what a circus looks like where we are right now. The beautiful Minnesota winter is upon us!

It is extremely exciting to head south not just because of weather in which there is no worry of freezing to death on your doorstep, but because we've been planning this trip for so long and have had such amazing support from everyone. Thank you! Enjoy the trip right here and the ice shanties we'll be missing.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

in less than 48 hours...

I will be on my way to Brazil.  I think I have everything I need.  There is still a lot to do and prepare.  A lot of last minute things have come up and they make me hungry.  I don't know why, but they do.  anyway.  It's late and I need to get to bed early.  I need to run tomorrow.  I've been skipping out on it lately and my body is craving the attention.  I want to be prepared for LUME.