Butter Churning...With Adrienne Kennedy
My spirit is churning this afternoon. Awash in different images and thoughts, daily events- some of which happened to me and some of which I made happen due to being highly emotional and somewhat impulsive. I've always been one to give into temptation. Luckily, in the arena of drugs and alcohol and other dangerous vices, temptation doesn't often visit me. No, my temptations have always been in the realm of escapism through entertainment, big cookies, and the need to over-comunicate my emotions.
So this week has me thinking, with images flashing in my mind. Fleeting images that I can't quite grab onto. Themes that like to tease me with ideas just enough to grant a little bit of hope and then yank it fast as fuck away, so I'm left feeling vaguely empty and yet with a teensy touch of promise.
I was inspired this morning by an article in the New Yorker featuring playwright Adrienne Kennedy. I'd never heard of her before, but her surreal pieces which explore her unique experience of being a black woman in the mid-twentieth century are so exciting, and even forty years later feel fresh and exploratory. She's a spirit to learn from, someone I want to soak up and understand...
She takes her unique experience, the images and mythos of her life and molds it into something unique and new. I feel like that's what every artist/writer/actor/singer aspires to. If not, they should. To me, that's the business of being an artist, blazing a unique trail using the media of your experiences and the archetypes and images that have spoken to you. But somehow I can't seem to fid a way to do this that feels new enough. The stuff that I'm inspired to do all seems already charted. A review of my one-man show "Idol Worship" plagues me. The reviewer said that it was entertaining, but not really blazing new trails.
I couldn't help but think that, of course, to a gay man in art, which this reviewer was, this may not all be new stuff, but to other people in Austin, this isn't all well trod territory. And the question of why gays love fierce, emotional feminine artists or "divas" has been misrepresented in a lot of media, simply by stating that gay men want to be these women. This is both facile and a misstatement. But anyway, I'm not writing this post to speak up for past work, but to find a new piece, a new trail to blaze.
Part of me would love to pin down in this post all the images and themes duking it out for my attention, but the superstitious part of me wants to protect them, keep them private, and so I will, until they step out in more concrete form. Of course I have a rough draft of a play I could easily work on, shape into something more pleasing to me than in it's current incarnation, but the motivation isn't there right now. Will it ever be? Is that ok? It's so raw right now that I can't bring myself to print it out, because when I do, great giant chunks of it will be torn out...and yet, maybe that's the easiest way to move onto step 2. To have it in a concrete, in my face form that won't allow me to ignore it so easily... yes, perhaps. I mean, nobody ever said creating this shit was easy. It's multitudes of long steps, mired in uncertainty and questions- "Is this new? Is it real? Is it truth? Is it trite? Do I see it for what it is or through some kind of fucking fun house mirror?" But you just keep on churning and writing, or churning and creating and trusting. At least you do if you ever expect to come out with something tangible. The doubting NEVER stops, and the creators job is to create in spite of that.