introublewiththeking.blogspot.com 

04.09.2018
introublewiththeking
No comments
We went on a 72-hour road trip to Vermont this week. It was our way to celebrate the end of the summer and beginning of the school year for both of us (Ryan is starting his MFA in Arts Leadership at Brooklyn College this year and I am entering my 3rd year of Ph.D. work at the Graduate Center). We rented the car from Newark airport because it's significantly cheaper by hundreds of dollars. If you live in NYC, you should do this... seriously. You may get caught in rush hour traffic when you return (ahem) but you'll have an extra $300 dollars in your pocket that you can put towards your next road trip.  Vermont is my kind of place... politically progressive, values the arts, plenty of opportunities to be in nature and some mighty damn good food.  We begin our food tour with... Sonny's Blue Benn Diner in Bennington. Cheap, delicious and cash only. This classic diner will warm your heart and fill your stomach. It will not empty your wallet. I've heard it said that Blue Benn is one of the "greatest diners in the Northeast" and despite being from New Jersey, I believe it.  Vermont is hidden swimming holes. Our first stop was Warren Falls, the thing I dream of, turquoise water hidden away between rock gorges, natural water slides and pools up to twenty feet deep. The water is crystal clear so looks can be deceiving in terms of depth. The water is also cold... ice cold. It didn't deter either of us, especially Ryan who enjoys the occasional cliff jump (Warren Falls is full of various cliffs for jumping...). Don't be like me and forget your water shoes. The ground is steep is full of rocks. Additionally, the moss on the rocks make it very slippery.  Entrance to Warren Falls... swimmers and sunbathers can walk a mile in either direction to enjoy this swimming hole.  After 2 hours at Warren Falls we continued north towards Burlington to Leddy Beach.  Shoreline at Leddy Beach in Burlington, Vermont.  Willard Street Inn can be a little pricey, there are less expensive room options that are just as beautiful as the most expensive ones. The homemade breakfasts are unbelievable. This frittata is made entirely from the vegetables in the large garden located behind the Inn.  Breakfast at Willard Street Inn.  On our second morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the Inn and then headed over to Mount Philo in Charlotte to hike the 1.9 mile trail to the summit of the mountain.  In the afternoon we headed over to Shelburne Farms. This working farm has several public education programs for people of all ages which include gardening, animal care and cheese making. We hung out with goats and took a walk on one of the many beautiful nature trails through large gardens. Goat at Shelburne Farms.  In the evening we headed back to the Church Street Marketplace, Burlington Vermont's "downtown" for a lovely dinner at American Flatbread, all natural brick oven pizza (here's a fascinating history of the oven, if you are wondering...) followed by dessert at Ben and Jerry's.  Oops...  "Every act we perform today must reflect the kind of human relationships we are fighting to establish tomorrow."  - David Dellinger  Resources and Recommendations: Sonny's Blue Benn Diner U.S. Route 7 North Bennington, Vermont 802-442-5140 Warren Falls Route 100 Warren, Vermont Leddy Beach  Leddy Park Road, North Avenue Burlington, Vermont Willard Street Inn 349 South Willard Street  Burlington, Vermont  802-651-8710 Mount Philo State Park 5435 Mount Philo Road Charlotte, Vermont Website Shelburne Farms 1611 Harbor Road Shelburne, Vermont Website American Flatbread Pizza Website  Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour 802-882-2047 Website
15.08.2018
introublewiththeking
No comments
             I love Coney Island. This doesn't come as much of a surprise to folks who know me well. At first, it started out as sort of a joke. I didn't really love it as much as I said I did... or maybe I did, I don't really know. It's campy, loud and kind of dirty. The food is expensive (though totally fulfiling boardwalk goodness) and at least once per year the Cyclone gets stuck and riders have to be evacuated. However, despite some of these quirks, it truly is my favorite place in the world. Maybe it's because I grew up on the Jersey Shore and this place reminds me of home like no other... or maybe it's just the diverse community of people enjoying themselves at the beach... or the beach itself... whatever it is, nothing grounds me as much as a few hours at Coney Island.  For years I've been going down to Coney Island at all times of year (the dead of winter is the best) to take photos. At some point, I'll pick the best ones out. Yesterday I only had my iPhone with me, but for a little phone, it takes wonderful photos. I call this mini photo essay "Three hours in Coney Island".  The classic Wonder Wheel shot. Without a photo of the wheel was I really even in Coney Island? If you have 3 hours in Coney Island, you must ride the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone. Both require separate payment at the entrance (and don't take tickets). One has to get at least one ride in each season. I have not been on it yet this season but there is time... I mean, only 2 more weeks until school starts. Clearly, I better get on this...  Iconic Nathan's. I usually go to the one at the boardwalk and have a picnic on the beach but this one is the most iconic and the site of the annual hot dog eating contest on July 4th. Joey Chestnut is still the reigning male champion for the 11th year in a row, having downed 74 hotdogs in 10 minutes. Miki Sudo remains the female hotdog eating champion for the 5th year in a row.  The Nathan's website offers suggestions for how to dress your dog but I prefer the classic - sauerkraut, relish, mustard and ketchup. Utter perfection.  The water was cleaner than I've ever seen it before and those unfriendly clouds provided some much-needed shade from the sun but sure caused some havoc on the walk home. I was supposed to be reading theory for school but somehow the theory turned to poetry. Andrea Gibson speaks to my soul in a way that very few humans can. I tried to get their latest book but it wasn't available at The Stand yet.  Closing with some necessary inspiration from Andrea Gibson... 
28.07.2018
introublewiththeking
No comments
There is too much to say about Palestinian theatre that I have left off this blog because I am in the process of writing two articles - one for HowlRound and another for Arab Stages which will speak in detail to the experience. I will be posting links as soon as they are available. This mural is on the wall at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin. 
28.07.2018
introublewiththeking
No comments
"You are witnessing our annihilation..." - Bank teller in Ramallah For most of my life, the only images I ever saw of Palestine were crying women and stone-throwing youth. The US media does a terrible job of portraying Palestine, even the progressive media. I was contemplating whether or not I should post some of the photos below because it reinforces a certain image of Palestine that already saturates the media. This was not the Palestine that I experienced. It was certainly part of it given that it's under a military occupation, but it's really important to portray the joy, resilience and life that was present in every second of the day. However, to not show the occupation is equally problematic.  The entrance to the Al-Amari Camp. Many of the camps have large keys near the entrance. The key is a symbol of the Nakba - the catastrophe, the final turn of the house key and displacement of 750,000 Palestinianian women, men and children who were thrown out of their homes in 1948. Many of these people still hold on to their house keys.   Israeli soldiers outside of the Ibrahami Mosque. To enter the mosque you have to go through several checkpoints (see one below) and show your passport. Below: Handala on the wall of the Aida Camp in Bethlehem. Handala was first created by Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali who wrote: “The child Handala is my signature, everyone asks me about him wherever I go. I gave birth to this child in the Gulf and I presented him to the people. His name is Handala and he has promised the people that he will remain true to himself. I drew him as a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way." Read more here. A mural on the wall in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. The other side of the wall - Jerusalem. A woman waits for a bus to get from Ramallah to Jerusalem. Distance wise, the trip should be less than thirty minutes but because of security, it took us three hours. We switched vehicles several times. We were fortunate that our American passport allows us to visit Jerusalem. Many of the youth we worked with are not allowed to visit.  Gernika refers to Guernica, the town that was razed by German soldiers during the Spanish Civil War. The attack specifically targeted civilians and was the topic of the famous painting by Pablo Picasso.                      One of the murals in Ramallah asked "These Walls Can Talk - Will You Listen?" and that is the question. When is the world going to listen?
27.07.2018
introublewiththeking
No comments
So many more questions than answers. When I first arrived in Palestine I struggled with how to write about it. What is my responsibility as a westerner, specifically an American in documenting the Palestinian struggle against the occupation? What is my role as someone with an extreme amount of privilege, a US passport holder who can come and go as I please and buy pretty much anything I need while on the ground in talking about life under occupation? How do I speak to "audiences" (which for now consists of the ones I have on social media) who already have a preconceived idea of what Palestine is and is often driven by an extreme religious ideology that commits them to dehumanize an entire population (I'm talking about evangelical Christians more than anyone else)? These photos don't begin to do anything justice - it's an attempt to start figuring out what questions to ask and where to enter the conversation. More to come... A boy selling birds and poultry at a shop in Hebron.  Glassmaker in Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank. The city is divided into two parts - H1, which is under Palestinian control and H2, which is under Israeli control. Finding Wifi in Bethlehem.  Children playing in Hebron.  Three photos of children and youth in the al-Am'ari Refugee Camp. Established in 1969, the al-Am'ari Refugee Camp is a Palestinian refugee camp in east Ramallah. Al-Am'ari suffers from a water crisis, poor sewerage, unemployment and overcrowding. A large majority of the population is under 18.  Jerusalem.  Tattoo in Ramallah. 
15.07.2018
introublewiththeking
No comments
Marhaba from Ramallah in the West Bank.                                    Al-Manara Square in Ramallah I am here to do pre-dissertation research and as a participant in the Ashtar Youth International Theatre Festival which begins on Saturday. I have a fantastic group of artists from New York City (the Co-Op Theatre East youth ensemble) who will be joining me tomorrow.  This week I am beginning to collect interviews with theatre artists working in Palestine. I will be doing that the entire time I’m here but I’ve had an extra week to get everything kick started and get acclimated. I have been studying Palestinian culture and theatre since I was in undergrad but there is no amount of reading that can prepare you for what is actually happening on the ground here.  In only four days of being here, I have met some of the most remarkable people, artists and activists from around the world. I have never felt so welcome as a stranger to a new place. For example, I took a shared taxi to Jenin (which is the most northern city in the West Bank) today and was speaking with a young woman named Noor who was sitting next to me in the cab. She was pointing out various sites like olive orchards, villages, checkpoints and Israeli settlements. She invited me to her home for lunch. We spoke about life in Jenin and how her family had moved several times because their home was destroyed by buldozers and then bombed.  Homemade Palestinian lunch in Jenin.  I am looking forward to sharing more stories and photos from Palestine in addition to sharing more about Ashtar. Ashtar aims at making theatre a fundamental need within Palestinian society, through stimulating cultural awareness, awakening perceptions towards aesthetics and arousing artistic sensibility and taste. It also seeks to build and strengthen cultural bridges with the Theatre World through creative works and ideas. Ashtar is actively engaged in researching and experimenting with various artistic elements, tools, and techniques. It aims at creating at theatre that has the scent of Musk, the color of Amber and the taste of Figs. A theatre that is capable of penetrating all walls including that of the audience’s unconscious. The entrance to the Ashtar Theatre in Ramallah.  I look forward to sharing more from Palestine and the Ashtar International Youth Theatre Festival. Here are a few more photos from around the neighborhood.  Grapes Rooster on sale at poultry and bird farm Sunset over Ramallah
13.07.2018
introublewiththeking
No comments
Because this is a photo blog… here are my favorite photos from Belgrade. Protest outside of the National Museum in Belgrade After the rain  The view from my flat Lido Beach  Kayaking tour in the Danube  Graffiti on the wall outside of the University in Belgrade Lido Beach Fisherman on the Danube  Architecture in Belgrade Another view from the entrance to my flat. Neigborhood park.  Red umbrellas outside of Manufaktura  Swans on the Danube  This wraps up my time in Belgrade. I look forward to returning to this wonderful city in the near future.
12.07.2018
introublewiththeking
No comments
As expected I have been neglectful in my blogging. I want to wrap up Belgrade before I move on and talk about Palestine, which will be for the remainder of my time abroad. I will wrap up talking about two highlights of the week, the plenary talk by James Thompson and my own presentation. I will start by saying James Thompson is sort of an academic celebrity in my world. He is a co-author of Performance in Place of War, which was the first book I ever read about people who make theatre in conflict zones and inspired my work today. He spoke on the aesthetics of care and called on academics (who are trained to be critical) to work alongside the communities they are studying/writing about as opposed to positioning themselves as superiors. Academics must offer critiques to help move work forward in addition to discussing downfalls. This was a very appropriate talk considering my own presentation on best dramaturgical practices in creating autobiographical theatre aimed at youth. I drew upon my own past participation in these types of performances and interviews with staff members/youth in various NYC based not-for-profits and theatre ensembles that have missions to empower youth or promote social justice through their theatre work. We had a lively discussion about the non-profit industrial complex and best practices moving forward. As this presentation was part of a 20+ page paper and project I worked on last semester, I focused solely on dramaturgy and the role of the dramaturge in this type of work. The conclusions I drew for the role that the dramaturge can/should play in the development of social justice youth theatre include: 1.                    Helping the artists and creative staff develop and maintain a healthy rehearsal structure, including implementing opening and closing rituals and setting strong personal and professional boundaries. 2.                    Reminding the artists and staff that while the work is therapeutic, it is not therapy. Theatre cannot be expected to take the place of mental health services and/or personal therapy. If the cast is particularly young or inexperienced, the dramaturge may offer resources for where to obtain such services. 3.                    Assist in negotiating the space in between personal identity and story by helping participants understand that their identity is not limited to only their stories. (This is particularly important when working with populations that have experienced significant amounts of trauma.) 4.                    Renegotiating and rethinking the power structures in the rehearsal room. 5.                    Considering that most youth theatres engaged in “theatre of the real” have a social justice component to their mission, they must consider utilizing the dramaturge as a mediator between the creative team and community. Make sure that the community understands the intentions of the project and has a legitimate say in how they are being portrayed on stage. 6.                    Create strategies for engaging the community post-performance and maintaining relationships. 7.                    Offer theatrical techniques that separate the actor from their personal story. I suppose if you work in the field that some of these points are obvious, but as I know from previous experience, it’s not enough to KNOW these things, the effort must be made to implement them fully and to provide the dramaturge with the resources and power within the organization that they need to do this work. I had a bit of a surreal moment when a scholar that I cited in the paper (and often cite) happened to be in the audience and introduced herself/exchanged contact info following the talk. As I am still trying to figure out what my dissertation project will be (so much paint is being thrown on the wall and we’re seeing what sticks…) I am certain that the themes in this paper will continue to be tackled in one way or another. I have been very interested in exploring the non-profit industrial complex, and more importantly, seeking out alternatives to the hierarchal non-profit model which dominates theatre in New York. I have some unique experience to offer in this area. Right now it’s a matter of connecting it to the theatre in conflict zones, which is where my heart is.  Ironically, the first thing my professor said upon reading the paper was, “this paper is going to make a lot of people angry.”
11.07.2018
introublewiththeking
No comments
When I was young (like about 4 or 5 weeks ago...) I was completely obsessed with Medieval Times. For those who are not familiar with the age-old suburban New Jersey tradition of attending Medieval Times, it’s a “medieval” (and I’m purposely writing it lowercase with quotes) dinner theatre and jousting tournament. The audience is divided into teams and throughout the night you root for your knight to win the tournament and the heart of the princess. There are castles, kings, crowns, chicken, ribs (you eat with your hands… just like “back in the old days”) but... at the heart of this very special place… and the ONE thing that I was most fascinated with as a nine-year-old (which is probably the last time I visited Medieval Times), was the ONE exhibit my mother would not let me visit… the “medieval torture chamber”, a museum of mock-medieval torture devices. Well, fast forward 22 years to my roaming around the Belgrade Fortress today (which by the way, has areas dating back to the Neolithic era... read the incredible history on that link) what is the first thing I stumble upon? An exhibit of torture devices from Medieval Europe.  And, oh boy, after 22 years of repression, the rebellion had come...  The truth is, I’ve always had an interest in torture as a performance and disciplinary tool (on both an individual and societal level). I’ve written several sociology papers on it in undergrad and have read a number of books on the topic. There is no shortage of writing on this subject, as I learned when I proposed to write about torture as performance in a class I took on early modern theatre. (If you are interested in exploring this topic more you should read the first chapter of Foucault's Discipline and Punish which details the public display of humiliation, torture and execution of Robert-Francois Damiens... and take it from there...)  Of course, it’s important to point out that the majority of the 60+ torture instruments that I saw today were used specifically on women accused of witchcraft and anyone accused of sorcery (mostly women, of course).  Here are some photos… Entering a wing of the museum through the catacombs.  The Virgin of Nuremberg a.k.a. The Iron Maiden  The Virgin of Nuremberg (a.k.a. The Iron Maiden)  Dates back to Germany in 1515, possibly earlier. Supposedly this is one of the first instruments to mechanize torture. The condemned was locked into this sarcophagus (which gets its name from the fact that some folks believed the device resembled a Bavarian girl). Inside they are penetrated with deliberately placed spikes that penetrate the body but purposely avoided vital organs to prolong the suffering of the condemned. The Noisemaker’s Fife Dates back to 18th century Italy. It was placed around the neck of the “offender” so that their fingers were also locked into place. It was used primarily for minor offences such as disturbing the peace… and also to punish bad musicians. The Scales The Medievals believed that witches and other followers of Satan would weigh significantly less than they appear so the scales were developed to weigh people accused of witchcraft. The scales were most commonly used in Belgium and the Netherlands throughout the 18th century. To quote the museum’s information about this device, “There was obviously tremendous room for abuse of the system and it was easy to declare someone guilty. During the 18th century, a court in Oudwater in the Netherlands controlled the weighing of those suspected of witchcraft. If the outcome was favorable to the accused, they were given a certificate to prevent them from any further accusations. The court collected sums of money from people in this way and it became a profitable business. The certificate was so sought after that people traveled from far and wide to be weighed and receive their document ensuring their safety from suspicion. The court had difficulty processing the number of people waiting to be weighed that there was often a backlog" (quote supplied by curating team).  Instruments of Public Humiliation Medievals love some public humiliation (and let's not kid ourselves... as a society we still kind of love it). Many smaller offences involved serving time in the stocks, the pillory, wearing metal shoes or masks. While enduring this, offenders were subjected to being spit at and having food thrown at them. These masks above had no particular torture device attached to them. The purpose was to serve as humiliation. However, you can read about similar more sinister devices here.  While I loved my visit today, I’m not entirely on board with the way in which the exhibit is curated. I think setting these grotesque instruments up as something to “gawk” at (alongside piped in sound effects of chains and torture) completely cheapens the experience and alienates visitors from any kind of meaningful engagement or critical thinking about the objects at hand. Also, aside from the plaque at the entrance, there is not much context or information about Medieval society.  As mentioned, there is a plaque at the beginning of the tour that explains the reasoning for showing all these devices (we should acknowledge our history, etc.) but then tries to say it's not political, when in fact it's nearly impossible to separate politics from torture considering these instruments were mostly implemented by the church which was the governing power at the time. It does provide a little information about Medieval life but appears mostly apologetic. I was also reading the English translation. I don't know if it's different in Serbian.  The practice of torture continues today all across the world. I immediately think of capital punishment in the US, for example. Europe has abolished capital punishment (except for in Belarus) and refuses to sell the United States the drugs needed for lethal injection, which has led to a number of botched and pro-longed executions as states are still trying to figure out the most effective cocktail to use.  Museum Entrance  Also, can we call it irony that directly outside the torture exhibit is a display of military weapons and tanks? Obviously, it is all part of the military museum but I can't ignore that, especially given that today is the anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.  For under $3.00 I highly recommend this museum if you find yourself in Belgrade. Not to mention, exploring the Belgrade Fortress is a MUST (and worth its own blog post).  Feet overlooking the fortress.  In 500 years I wonder if folks will come across a torture museum showing the electric chair, lethal injection, drone warfare, etc.? I hope humanity has progressed enough that they leave thinking about how inhumane things were "back then" and has no sort of contemporary situations to compare it to. History has shown us that this will probably not be this case.  Also... just worth noting that there is a wonderful sale happening at New Jersey's Medieval Times right now so anyone that wants to take me for my birthday in 6 months, or on a date (wink, wink) can hop on that in August... 
09.07.2018
introublewiththeking
No comments
Photo of House of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia in Belgrade.  I often start blogs by stating how bad I am at blogging – not that this won’t be a nice adventure, it will just, most likely, be an inconsistent one (note how consistent the posts on this blog are from 2015 to present day).  I gave up on it all together for the longest time but am trying again for two main reasons: 1.     To contextualize and share the work I’m doing on a public forum (and practice being comfortable with it).  2.     My field notebook is bordering on middle school diary with long diatribes about long lost lovers and current haters and everything else in between. And while gossip is interesting, it's not integral to the purpose of this trip, which is for research. So, this will (hopefully) pluck some of that out.  This week I’m in Belgrade, Serbia for the IFTR World Congress... Photo of a playground in Belgrade near my Airbnb apartment.  What is the IFTR World Congress, you ask? Well, that’s a good question… it’s the annual International Federation for Theatre Research, a gathering of theatre scholars from across the globe (150 of them happened to be on my plane yesterday). Pretty much I’m going to find my people (those who are working in the same area as me), talk about the "work", make connections and eat lots of good food.  I’m presenting on the New Scholars Forum on Thursday. My presentation tackles the performance of self in New York City youth theatre (but we will talk more about that on Thursday…) My IFTR swag.  Following IFTR I will be on the road for the next month conducting pre-dissertation research and be participating in the Ashtar Youth International Theatre Festival (which is considered performance as practice). I received a Provost’s Pre-Dissertation Summer Research Grant so I will be traveling through the Middle East.  And what is the research that the CUNY Graduate Center has so graciously funded this summer, you ask?  Great question. And the purpose of this blog.  My academic research explores the impact and functions of theatre in conflict areas and war zones. I am primarily looking at how theatre helps maintain cultural identity and how it works as a method of resistance to oppression in communities affected by war and displacement. Yes. This is very broad. TOO broad, actually. So, this summer I will be narrowing this very broad topic down substantially. To do this, I will be seeing theatre, visiting and interviewing artists, observing rehearsals and documenting this through writing, photo and video. I will be asking a lot of questions and doing even more listening. In fact, in my notebook, I jokingly named my trip in April the “Shut Up and Listen” tour as in addition to research questions, I was even more interested in hearing about how artists want to be portrayed and how they want their work talked about. I began some of this work in April during my trip to Beirut (to participate in another conference). I was able to connect with a number of local theatre artists and learned a lot about the robust theatre community in Lebanon. Check out this article on a site-specific production of Blood Wedding and my Instagram, which features a few interviews. In the next weeks, I will be posting more about my research, this current trip, theatre and lots of food. I'm happy you'll be coming along for the ride!