Monday, May 14, 2007


I have a neurotic need to explain myself, to give my every utterance the proper context so I'm not misunderstood. I'm better than I used to be, but ... this sentence is a perfect example of it, so I will abandon it right now. It slows me down in so many ways. I think my phone phobia is a symptom of this neurosis. I revise and rehearse every greeting to get the maximum context into the first few words.

I've been thinking a lot about the musical Lizzie Borden play my friend Tim and I wrote and staged together in New York, which may be produced again next year. As I began blogging about it last night, I found myself unable to express the simple thoughts I was having without also writing layers and layers of history, from my involvement with Tim and the Tiny Mythic Theatre Company in the late 80s and early 90s, how I met those people through my first long-term boyfriend, who got me started playing in bands and writing music, how those experiences in the theater awoke in me the notion that I wanted to change my life, which led me to leave that boyfriend.

Everything at this late stage of my life seems to be way too entangled with a longer story, with the long story, for the telling of any small segment of it to be simple. There's too much diversity -- of geographical location, creative medium, philosophy of life, haircut -- for any part to convey the whole. I want too badly for it to make sense.

The other thing I feel slightly neurotic about -- and this is related to the above because they are both parts of a larger need of mine to feel that I have done something important with my life -- is a need to state and confirm that I have participated in history, that I have not just swum in but have contributed to the cultural stream. Simply, that my work has been important. Maybe all artists feel this, but it is very much at odds with my overarching Buddhist philosophical view of the uncertainty of things. You can take the boy out of the Judeo-Christian narrative paradigm but you can't, etc.

The way this latter thing looks is that when I talk about the Lizzie Borden piece, I want to say that it was the final show in the first season of the American Living Room festival in 1990, which was the first summer theater festival in New York. Now there are lots of them, but there was no summer theater festival season in New York before the American Living Room. What we did that summer changed New York theater. (Just to be clear, I didn't create the ALR, but I participated in many ways throughout that first summer.)

Well, there's so much more to tell about Lizzie Borden, and about everything else as well. I'll get to it. In the meantime, that's Loren Kidd with the axe. She played Lizzie in the original ALR production as well, but this photo is from the longer version produced by HERE in 1994.

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