INTERVIEWS with ARTISTS

BRIAN COX

NICOLE ANSARI

DAVID SHINER

DAVID GREENSPAN

BILL D'ELIA

FYVUSH FINKEL

LYLE KESSLER

JENNIFER FOUCHÉ

SHELDON EPPS

MYRIAM CYR

JIM SEALES

ROBERT STAFFANSON

IAN FINKEL

WILLIAM S. YELLOWROBE, JR.

EDDIE MARTIN

PETER JENSEN

TIM STEVENSON

Spotlight On

A Theater for Us All

The Actor’s Guide to Creating a Character

Digging for Gold: The Journey of an Actor

On Directing

Acting - an Act of Liberation. Creating the Life of a Soul on Stage through Stanislavsky’s “Method of Physical Actions” Technique

Enlivening Self by Engaging in Theatre

Playing with the Michael Chekhov Technique: The Transformed Actor

Acting is Believing...and Really Doing! - The Passing of Dr. Larry Clark

The Deep Order Called Turbulence: The Three Faces of Dramaturgy

A Weaver of Tales

Craftsmanship Regained

A Shared Sense of Purpose: My Journey to the Theatre

From Indiana, to New York, to Cape May’s East Lynne Theater Company

The Biology of Acting; Lucid Body Unmasked

The Lambert Chronicles

My Story: Why I Teach the Alexander Technique

Movement

The Quest: Attaining 360 Degrees Peripheral Vision - Challenging the Quadrant Boundaries of Our Lives

 

 

“To flourish, society depends on a strong cultural heritage as well as innovation. The challenge is to breathe new life into the arts. Creativity is at the heart of every successful nation. It finds expression in great visual art, wonderful music, fabulous performances, stunning writing, gritty new productions and countless other media. Giving form to our innate human creativity is what defines us to ourselves and the world.
This is what the arts have always done. The lasting value and evidence of a civilization are its artistic output and the ingenuity that comes from applying creativity to the whole range of human endeavor. What is education if it doesn't teach our children to think creatively and innovatively? What use is a robust economy unless it is within an innovative country that can attract and stimulate the world? How can good governance exist without a population that is engaged, educated and able to form its own opinions?”  Excerpt from an essay, “Reviving a creative nation,”
 – by Cate Blanchett and Julianne Schultz, April 16, 2008, For the Creative Australia Stream at the 2020 Summit

 

Hirschfeld

“Simply think the words.”
— Goethe

“Action is the direct agent of the heart.”
— Delsarte

 

The Quest: Attaining 360 Degrees Peripheral Vision – Challenging the Quadrant Boundaries of Our Lives

A well-known American Indian truism of life states: “The Universe and Earth are circular and all things end in a circle.”

This is an intuitive and spiritual fact, well-known and understood by most indigenous cultures. Among American Indians, this is the great circle of life, referred to as: The Great Medicine Wheel. It is a cosmic and architectural framework constructed by God, The Creator, The Great Spirit and acknowledges a place and purpose for all things of His creation comprising white, black, red and yellow.

As we make our journey along the highway of life, we have multiple opportunities to take temporary pit stops: To change our oil and tires. To examine the ias’ and the isms baggage of our lives.

Many, having acquired, and still carry baggage from previous generations, while adding more as they traverse life’s highways in continuance, have options of choice through education, exposure and experience to become agents for individual and generational change. Individually and collectively, we’re presented by life’s journey with challenges and decision choices for change.

Change is a complementary component and outcome of our physical and spiritual DNA makeup. We’re challenged to take the dare; to receive, and to embrace the opportunities placed in our path; to discard the useless ias’ and isms baggage that dominate our existence.

While most will lay claim of possessing no (b)ias’ or isms it would difficult to live and grow without them because the ias’ and isms that impact our lives can be positive or negative (another universal and cosmic polarity, reality and truism that influence our physical and spiritual lives on a daily basis.)

Non-recognition and change for the better potentially stunts our physical and spiritual world growth and is the death knell to the spirit.

As our nation appears to be engaged in spiritual free-fall, failing to acknowledge the rights and existence of the white, black red and yellow threads that comprise the national and cultural quilt existences of our society, let us be reminded that the greatest threat to national security (given mounting geo-political external forces and their dynamics) are: Not knowing who we are as individuals, family, community and nation and even worse, not respecting who we are as individuals, family, community and nation.

Had the Navajo Indian Code Talkers not existed, we may not have had an Iwo Jima to plant the Colors.

If the Tuskegee Airmen had not dared to be great, the nation and the world may have been a completely different place.

Japanese-American soldiers of the 442nd Infantry Regiment in Germany whose families were held in concentration camps fueled by b(ias’) distinguished themselves militarily and were highly decorated for their sacrifice and achievement.

Collectively everyone, in some way, has contributed to the national identity, cultural, heritage and historic quilt.

From an individual, family, community and national perspective, their trials, tribulations and stories of yesteryear helped us challenge our ias’ and isms perception, thus enabling and empowering us to evolve to where we are today and still need to go to redress the ignorance and indifference that plague our communities, institutions and society.

Despite the ethnic, cultural, heritage, religious and other differences that characteristically divide us, examination of the Great Medicine Wheel indicate that we all share a common denominator attribute:

Visualization and imagery, along with education, experience and exposure are key elements that help promote change. 

Imagine a circle. Divide the circle horizontally by half. Further divide the circle vertically in half thus yielding four quadrants of 90 degrees with each contributing to the 360 degrees of the (great) wheel of life. Within each quadrant there is a place for each one of us: White, Black Red and Yellow – God’s creation.

Each quadrant comprising 90 degrees, potentially determine the borders, and the degree boundaries of our self-exploration, growth or stagnation.     
Those that limit themselves, dedicated and committed to remain within the confines of their 90 degrees, comfort zone boundaries also limit themselves in discovering the wonders contained within the remaining 270 degrees of The Great Medicine Wheel circle of life.

Fear of exploring a forest’s depth by stopping at its entrance denies witness to the beauty of nature’s extensive bounty, symbiotic offerings and gifts.

These are limitations for those that remain within 90 degree boundaries. 
The personal challenge of humankind through ias’ and isms examination will hopefully prompt each of us to search for, find and reach points of synthesis and thereafter, initiate corrective action changes to thoughts, words, actions and deeds.

Prayerfully, these challenges will lead us to deeper levels of understanding, reconciliation and escape from the barriers that impeded personal and spiritual growth.

Thus driven by a natural curiosity of what it might be like to explore a new world by expanding one’s peripheral consciousness beyond 90, on the way towards 180, past 270 and finally, to settle in at a 360 degrees’ full circle consciousness resting place represents the ‘One is One with All’understanding that constitutes life’s journey and purpose.
   
While constantly on the look-out for numerous earthly plane correspondences supporting the great circle of life and medicine wheel perception (seeking to discover further the harmony and truths of a grander orchestrated cosmic and spiritual existence), and eager to undertake greater steps towards and beyond 270 degrees, after nearly a seven-decades journey along the planet’s highways of life, I’m often reminded of the mellow and peaceful vibe I get when present at arts venues.

A jazz combo performance – a poetry recital – an art unveiling – where white, black, red and yellow boundaries in a musical or other performance genre setting represent a full circle track. Where b(ias’) by race, gender, generation, economic status, religion, or political affiliation convey ias’ and isms transcendence.

These are always pleasant places. They affirm that when those of like mind and spirit assemble, “One is One with All.” They are places where everyone is plugged into a cosmic (full circle) groove.

They’re community assembly places where water seeks its own level; where smiles on physical faces ignited by the spirit residing within convey inner known (and sometimes unrecognized and acknowledged) truths, that we share a common (spiritual) frequency and rate of vibration that is impacted by verse, tone, word and love.

“If only the rest of the world could groove on this peaceful vibe,” I’ve often thought.

Music and the arts help transcend ias’ and isms and thus the reminder that we are all one; sharing a common chord - connected by one verse - one tone – one language as the Creator designed and commanded.

They also contain other equation of life factor elements: E3 = P+O+U?! + R?!

Whereby the 3E’s represent Education, Exposure, and Experience leading to, equaling, or promoting:  Points of Understanding (hopefully) and Reconciliation - (prayerfully). Collectively, (hopefully) they attack the ias’ and isms that dominate most of humanity’s existence (unfortunately).

That said however, the souls that are so directed to undertake their missions – (blessed with attributes, skill sets, talents, destiny, purpose, and charged by heaven to promote peace and restore love to the planet as they utilize their talents for this purpose) is what God - The Creator - The Great Spirt demands and expects of us.

This is what brings a smile to His face and Soul. Just a little bit of love along with faith, as “Small as a mustard seed,” go a long way. The closing element to the “Visualization and Imagery” exercise is: Choose a four letter word of which we are all familiar:  Love. Place one letter into each quadrant. This is the axel that drives the Great Wheel of life.
Spin the wheel fast enough and there will be no distinction by color, ethnic or cultural group.

So the quest, (perhaps even a vision quest challenge for some) is to explore our boundaries, then make an effort to extend our peripheral vision over time and (eventually) witness from a 360 degrees’ peripheral consciousness destination arrival point what God – The Creator – The Great Spirit saw in each of us – demanding forgiveness of one another as He forgives all and loves all within His inner circle. •2015

Written exclusively for “The Soul of the American Actor.”

THOMAS MCKNIGHT  President, Tennessee Valley Historical Society; Program Chair and Board member for the Colbert County Historical Landmarks Foundation; Board member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Scholarship Committee; member of Civitan and American Legion Memorial Post No. 31 Color Guard in Tuscumbia, Alabama. A Vietnam War Veteran (four years with the United States Air Force Security Service (USAFSS) and Strategic Air Command (SAC). Mr. McKnight was with the United Nations including field work including complex emergency operations in twenty countries as a Project Officer, in Operations Officer Management and as a consultant with four UN agencies, two Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian missions Iraq and South Sudan in 2015 as Humanitarian Affairs Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB). He is also a member of Tuscumbia’s Retired Service Volunteer Program (RSVP) Homeland Security and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Mr. McKnight also is also an historian and genealogist and discovered that his Great-grandmother, Mrs. Sophia Napier Watkins was the cook in the Helen Keller household when Helen was a child. His other family history includes the Hon. James Carroll Napier, the first African American Registrar of the United States Treasury during the President William Howard Taft Administration (1911-1913), Tuskegee Airman, Lt. Carroll Napier Langston and noted author Langston Hughes.


"It is a law of life that man cannot live for himself alone. Extreme individualism is insanity. The world's problems are also our personal problems. Health is achieved through maintaining our personal truth in a balanced relation of love to the rest of the world. No expression is more emblematic of this relation than the creative act which we call art. No art by its very constitution typifies the social nature of that creative act more than the theatre. The theatre, to be fully understood and appreciated, must be seen as a manifestation of this process of interchange between society and the individual. It must be judged as a continuous development of groups of individuals within society, a development which becomes richer, acquires greater force and value as it grows with the society in which it originates. Only in this way can the theatre nourish us.  - Harold Clurman

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