Welcome One and All

Welcome new vistors and thank you for returning dedicated fans. For more information about me please dig into my "About me section" or look at my G+. This was my first blog. I have rebuilt and specialized since this blog's inception. It now serves as a "hub" for the three blogs I write. Below this banner is "Welcome to the Club" which is my comics blog, "The Silver Screen" which is my Cinema blog, and "All the World's a Stage" which is my theatre blog. Read at your leisure!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 23: Minocqua and Cruz Home


Last weekend I had the pleasure of bringing a show I was in to Minocqua Wisconsin. The show is called Club Valhalla. It was a study of Warrior Culture. It was a collaborative piece we worked on for about 7 weeks and then performed at the University of Minnesota in March. Some of the material we wrote ourselves and others were scenes from established war plays we adapted and developed into our piece.

When it was announced that we were bringing this piece to Wisconsin I was very skeptical of the success of this production. We only had two rehearsals before we perform and one was on the performance day itself. We also lost a significant chunk of the original ensemble.

I completely forgot the magic of theater itself. I forgot about the first Friday rehearsal of Valhalla where we all brought proposals in and did a version of the show. I forgot how much time we spent in Valhalla and how it had changed me not just as an artist but a person as well. Transporting myself back to Valhalla was not only instant when we started running things, but it felt right. All of the bonds and connections we had formed as an ensemble were there like they had never left.

The show was received very well. For the first time in this process we had the ability to have a talk back after the show. Now I have seen a lot of theater and been in a lot theater. I have participated in a lot of talk backs. This talk back by far was the greatest experience I have had. It wasn't just because the audience offered a lot of praise, but they had a lot of artistic points as well. They made me think about angles of the piece I had not considered yet such as: female performers finding their femininity in a piece focused on war, the balance between the raw organic dance breaks and the more structured scenes with blocking dialogue and text, why homosexuality was not explored in the piece at all especially with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell,  and whether this piece changed our perceptions of the military at all and whether we even considered enlisting.

We perform for predominantly a Minocqua's Peace Group. It was interesting hearing them talk about how this was an anti-war piece or a peace play. When we were forming this piece we worked really hard to get every aspect of the topic into the piece. We wanted every perspective to have their voice. We never talked about what was the skew of the play or what we were trying to leave the audience with. The piece became such a personal journey for me as character and I would say probably most cast members (although I don't want to speak for them) that we didn't think as much about the overall message of the piece was.

Labeling Club Valhalla a peace play in some ways is very truthful, but I also feel like it sells the entire experience short. I think the brilliance of the piece is it shows many sides of the topic. It allowed the audience to view all aspects of the topic and then make their own decisions. The show was not preachy nor did it tell the audience what we wanted it to think. That being said I do feel Valhalla is  peace play. Living and working this material for months now I don't know how you can look at every angle of this piece and not reach this conclusion.

Performing in Minocqua was very bittersweet. It was great to get the show off our liberal campus with audiences mainly full of our peers. It was really nice to hear honest everyday people's reaction (even though our audience was still liberal). It wasn't until performing in Minocqua where I realized how much this piece needs to be seen and heard. It is not a comfortable piece to watch. But we as a society have grow much too comfortable with the concept of war. We have grown far removed from the idea and people need a show like this to put them back into the realities of war and make them reconsider how they feel about it.

I said it was bittersweet because this may be our last visit to Valhalla. In Minocqua I rediscovered the emotional and artistic journey I went on this semester. I found new ways to look at our piece and all we have accomplished, but also how much further we can push the work as a whole. So I will end by agreeing with an audience member's comments: "People need to see this show. You need to take this show and tour so people can see this work"(not officially a direct quote rephrasing from memory.) So I hope I will get to return to Valhalla some day. I have more exploring that needs to be done and more people need to come on this journey with us.

Cruz Home

So I have been somewhat involved in Occupy Homes this past semester. For those who don't know they are a political organization fighting back against the foreclosure crisis in Minneapolis (there are other chapters around the country). They help people defend their homes as they try to renegotiate their mortgages with their banks. Occupy Homes has had multiple successes.

Their most recent Home defense is the Cruz family. they are family in South Minneapolis who are Latino. The owners are activist who not only have been very involved in the Latino community, but were also very involved in pushing the Dream Act in Minnesota.

I am writing about the Cruz household from a point of victory. The police raided the Cruz home twice a few nights ago attempting to enforce the eviction even though the family is in the process of negotiating with PNC Bank about a loan remodification. Below are photos are text directly from Occupy Homes as they retell the events:

Five Arrested As Occupiers Successfully Defend Home from Second Eviction Attempt (More below)
UPDATE: Community members will hold an emergency 12:00pm press conference and march on Sheriff Stanek's office from the steps of City Hall to denounce him for authorizing the violent eviction of the home while the family is in active negotiations with the bank to peacefully resolve the situation. They will demand he stop trying to evict the home while the bank is working to resolve the issue.

UPDATE: Sheriffs have said they will hold the arrestees until TUESDAY. Call sheriff Stanek to demand they release them IMMEDIATELY. Ask him why his deputies are evicting a family negotiating with the bank and to demand he stop these senseless attacks on our community. (612)348-3744
Platoons of sheriffs descended on the Cruz family home in a 4 am raid today, arresting five nonviolent supporters in the second failed eviction attempt in 48 hours. Fifty protesters mobilized to defend the home and outflanked the sheriffs by marching through the alley into backyard, causing the sheriffs to retreat without fully securing the home. Members of Occupy Homes MN remain inside the home as of 7 am this morning.

“An army of sheriffs marched in military-style and busted down the door in the dead of night,” said Ben Egerman, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN. “It’s unconscionable that Sheriff Stanek ordered the violent eviction of this home a second time, especially when he is fully aware of active negotiations between the family and the bank to resolve the situation peacefully.”

I say I write about everything that transpired from a place of victory. Occupy Homes successfully marched on City Hall and got their protesters released from jail. They also return the Cruz family door to the city. Occupy Homes reached the national spotlight I believe for the first time. You can read that article here. (other local coverage here.

Solidarity from Madison! 


PS: Sorry for the long wait loyal fans. Many of you reached out to me and it was so encouraging to know my voice on the web was missed. I will hopefully be more active here as I am now settled back home in Wisconsin for the summer. Speaking of Fitzwalkerstan I have several things to say about the recall election going on. stay tuned for those nuggets. 

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