The Pristine Palate

I’m going to tell you a simple story.  We run classes that involve many communities.  In one class I had about 15 to 20 students….all kinds of challenges. An aide came in with one student.  She was a female Quasimodo.  I say that with the image, not with disrespect.  She could not speak, but grunted, she had little tufts of hair on her head and scabs where she had scratched herself.  She was hunched over. The first time one saw her it was striking, I couldn’t help but stare and wonder…what will Linda do here.  We had class.  We did things.  Linda would sometimes be interested, sometimes not.  She would wonder the room, sometimes stand with us, sometimes sit and watch.  That was fine.  We do an exercise called the hammock.  A person must lay down in a black cloth and we do some things.  We set out the black cloth.  Linda watched, came close and wanted to do this.  She wanted to lay on the cloth. So she did.  We gathered around. …our diverse eclectic group of very different people…Linda was lying on the cloth….we all looked at her and for a split moment time stood still…..we all stood absolutely still and looked…..and then we communally took a breath in a proceeded with the exercise.  We finished class and everyone went home…..I am a slow processor.  My body had to process what happened that day.  A light went on. The next day, the group home manager of the home that Linda lived in called.  She asked if Linda was doing OK….was it alright that she was there…..Yes, I said…..we are honored to have her….she did something that none of us could do and that we all recognized.  Thank you for letting her come.  What had Linda done?  In that moment that she had laid down on the cloth, she had given us a demonstration of a body that was completely open….no resistance….no being careful….no lies….no holding….a clean, clear, pure palette….anywhere…….she was as a new born baby….with limbs in complete open rest…..not an ounce of tension….AND….the whole group recognized this……we did not know what we were recognizing….but as human beings we all saw something that struck us….stopped us…..she offered us the gift of complete physical/mental trust.  Imagine if we could do that as artists.  Imagine if we could work together like that.

I imagine the  open artist to be as responsive and ready and open as the skin of a still pond.  Touch that skin with the lightest of fingers and it responds.

Imagine being that ready.

As told by Theatre Terrific’s Artistic Director, Susanna Uchatius.

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