Reveal : To make (something) known. To open up to view. To make known through divine inspiration.
I am terrified by the word above. Reveal. I am also lifted.
When Ty and I set out to understand the theater of unMasqued, we knew we would be stepping into an area without protection. There were no longer walls of Universities or our southern roots to keep us grounded; we knew we must walk forward, eyes closed and arms spread, grabbing onto whatever pieces lent themselves to our seeking hands. We knew if we were to embark on a journey of creating this theater, we must demand an openness and vulnerability of ourselves and our world. In a singular way, I knew I must first ask this of myself – both man and artist.
The idea to follow a bluegrass/folk band through the events of Much Ado About Nothing came out of a question of time and place. When we reveal, who will listen? When we create, who will see? Summer 2014 became the time and Los Angeles became the place. After a year touring with National Players, in a manner very similar to a travelling band, I find myself with an ever-growing desire to understand ego, ambition, and love. Separately, these three things don’t seem harmless. Together, they seem destructive. I wanted to know more.
Rehearsals began with a song in a circle. “Happiness Runs”. A small, grassy area of Griffith Park became our stage. Our walls consist of trees on three sides and a road on another. Sometimes we are disturbed by cars (big, small, and remote-controlled) and sometimes we are observed by passerby’s and runners. If you were just glancing as you made your pass, we would probably look like we were playing an extravagant game. But, if you paused for just a second longer… you would hear us rehearsing Shakespeare’s text and know we were creating a play.
Maybe they are one in the same.
Our second rehearsal was at the Pieter PASD, where we will be staging our play in July. This is a very urban scene and offers a chance to bounce off the walls and transform a factory. There was an excitement, a contained energy in the room when we arrived and began working. We started creating our world; moving mirrors around, throwing and rolling bolls, playing guitar near windows and columns. The energy was bursting! Working inside of the Pieter space was a gift.
I remember one exercise in particular from the Pieter PASD day. It does not have a specific name. Let’s call it eyes. We started by forming two lines with partners standing directly opposite of one another. The task was simple: notice your partner fully, connect eyes, and move slowly to meet in the middle. Much of our process has involved noise (music, sounds, and words) and there was a silence to this work that felt refreshing. The picture with this post captures the moment of connection, a moment which felt like the beginning of our trust and intimacy as an ensemble.
We have an enormous task in front of us. Create original music, stage a play, explore relationship, become a band, draw in the community of LA, and combine together to create a piece of art we can stand behind.
At the top of this post, I have written a few definitions on the word ‘reveal’. A word I feel is at the core of our work in unMasqued. The last definition struck me in a curious way – to make known through divine inspiration. Divine Inspiration. Where does this come from? Does divine always mean G-d? The Universe? Ourselves? The clouds and the trees? How about the 4 black columns in the middle of our theater space? Or does it come from our community? From our need to understand?
If we can “make known through divine inspiration”, in all possibilities of the word divine, than I think we will have succeeded. This is the path ahead.
We are on our way.
– Drew Feldman, Director of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’