August 13, 2010

Back and Forth, a Love Story

So. I went back. I went back to the farm in the little corner of the middle of the world and made some more art.

Artmill (Horaždovice, Southern Bohemia, Czech Republic) is an amazing place, not just for the beautiful countryside or the crisp blue lake, but for the people who are drawn to it. I was there in June for Big Artmill, a three-week study abroad excursion through NYU for creating art pieces and showing them at a gallery in Prague. But this time, in August, I returned for Little Artmill -- little only in the age of the artists, but humongositious in spirit.

The kids were a pack of energetic, talkative, imaginative, crazy explorers. They took classes (and I with them) in painting, drawing, sculpture building, photography, horse-back riding, swimming, filmmaking, theatre, Spanish, Czech, English, and French. In the mornings, we ran/biked/hiked through trails from the schoolhouse where we slept to the farm. On the way, there was a cherry/plum-fruit-thing tree to pick, and stinging nettle to avoid, and frogs to catch. The horses, kittens (plus two new ones!), chickens, dogs, and goat needed to be played with. The cook liked company in the kitchen and help with picking vegetables from the garden each day. When it rained, we barely noticed. We always smelled like campfire, animals, food, lake water, and we barely noticed. Stories were told, secrets were whispered, jokes were announced at inappropriate times, and always there was someone to give you a hug and hold your hand and remind you to look up at the stars at night and breathe.

But this is a Love Story, not a summer camp brochure. I was in Lust with Big Artmill, but I fell in LOVE with Little Artmill.

The first time there, I felt immediately at home. The air, the land, the animals, the people, the old mill -- it was like I had finally found my own little corner of the world. But going back and being with kids, I was able to play and laugh and let go. Not having the pressure of an art gallery to prepare for, Artmill was able to seep into my bones and infest me.

What does this have to do with theatre and MBCT? Nothing. Everything. Theatre is storytelling. Theatre is physicalizing and verbalizing imagination. Theatre is traveling to little corners of the world in the middle of nowhere to sit around campfires all night under the starry sky drinking Becherovka and telling stories so you can return home and bring that campfire to life on a stage.

As one camper instructed us about making s'mores: you have to wait until the fire dies down to just embers. You don't want to burn your marshmallow, just slowly wait for it to turn a golden brown. Otherwise, it's all over way too soon.

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