Friday, April 28, 2017

The Art of Remembering Memoir Class Offered



"Your life is your journey. Your journey is your story. Your story is your legacy."

What's your story? 

Through a guided process of creative journaling exercises, participants discover and write their life stories in a supportive, nurturing environment. All levels welcome. No previous experience required.

DATES:  7 Thursdays  June 15 – Aug 3 (No class 6/22)
TIME: 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
FEE: $140
LOCATION: San Luis Obispo Campus Room 3312
INSTRUCTOR: Amy Luskey-Barth

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Directorial Musings....Fun Home

"And yet...."
Two words that say there is something else. Something unsaid. Something unknown. I marvel at the power of a well conceived lyric.
In listening to the musical  FUN HOME I am even more impressed with the writing and the score by Lisa Kron and Jeanine TesoriFragments of memory are effectively woven and expressed through a musical motif that evokes yearning and remembering. Phrasing, unfinished sentences, thoughts only partially spoken out loud. A void, a space, a pause, an emptiness as deep as a cavern.  But we know what is unsayable and we wait and watch until the characters can finally say it.
This show continues to resonate with me. In listening to it I hear a stress, a tension, a self-consciousness that is palpable in the character of Bruce. He sounds like someone always on the brink of exploding. It is wrenching. This is material that the author Alison Bechdel knows so well. That may seem obvious, but plenty of families choose to pretend, ignore, and deny. It takes guts to look at the truth of one's family and Bechdel does it with honesty and humor.
Each character in FUN HOME is well developed and achingly restrained. A perfect blend of book, score, direction and writing.  I haven't been this captivated by a musical since I saw NEXT TO NORMAL. I am drawn to complex texts with layers of subtext and characters with complicated relationships. Denial, secrecy, choice, discovery, and revelation are powerful storylines. The skill with which the creators of FUN HOME tell the story is truly admirable. The narrative structure is clever without being contrived.  Clearly, this is a musical that will stand the test of time.  It instantly imprinted on my psyche the way Sondheim's INTO THE WOODS did.  Audience members will focus on different aspects of the storyline and be moved by each in their own way based on their own context.   There is plenty to mine in this story. The fact that I'm still thinking about it days after seeing it and am analyzing its structure, relationships, and characters, I know it has made a significant impact on me. For that, I am grateful and inspired.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Witness

The musical Fun Home is not my story. But fragments of it are so familiar, so recognizable and so achingly painful that I sat in the theatre alone, spellbound and speechless. People next to me, in front of me, sighing, subtly, audibly reacting to the utterly precise lines and lyrics - I felt conspicuous in my otherness, perhaps even a bit resentful that my story is hidden between the lines as is so often the case with bystanders. I am glad I went by myself because it gave me a chance to sit with my own memories, questions, grief, anger, revelation without needing to talk to anyone.  Fun Home helped me see how our lives are revealed to us over time by piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of experiences that fit in to place only with time and truth.  It also reminded me that it is impossible for children to know who their parents are and even when they think they do,  they don't.  No one can know without understanding the context of the times and the circumstances that motivated their choices, behaviors, and mistakes.

Weaving my way through the complexity of my family's story has left me story-less. It is as if my story is the story of piecing together their story like a reporter or a witness. Watching Fun Home made me ask myself, "What is my story?"

I am tired of being the narrator. I want to be the protagonist. But I've been overshadowed by the drama of stories much weightier than my own.  I've spent years unpacking my family's mythology.  I've seen first hand the ravages of repression and the tragedy of denial, silence, secrets, lies, loyalty and love. There is very little I've not thought about, journaled about, analyzed, and processed. Since I was twenty-two, I've been sifting through the rubble, looking for meaning and seeking understanding. My story is not my mother's. It is not my father's. It is not my brother's. My story is not about sexual identity. It is not about AIDS. It is not about running away at fifty. My story so far has been a reaction to those stories.  As the author, Deena Metzger says, "We must come to know our own story." For years,  I've been telling everyone else's. Fun Home made me see that I must find my own story, and tell it unflinchingly.

"I want to know what's true 
Dig deep into who 
And what and why and when 
Until now gives way to then."
(From Fun Home)