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Posts from the ‘provocative behaviour’ Category

Solstice

I have loved you since the first leaves fell
When the darkness dropped like a stone and all went quiet
You arose in my mind like a perfect shell
On a vast beach laden with jewelled sand
That slipped through our fingers and toes like time
I have loved you since the first moment of Summer
Brought the sweat to my skin
And made me dive deep in the river where we met
When the snow bleached the ground a million miles
Between us I have loved you
Through exasperated cries
A prison of pain
Long dark nights
Loaded with tears
Your honesty pierced the sky where I hung my dreams out to dry
And bemoaned the passing years
I have loved you since the first drops of rain
Made a country green that sings in my heart still
With water and wood and wide open space

Nobody knows anything
All that is a mirage and the story unfolds indifferently
At the end of magic

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let me explain

let me explain
i’m a warrior
non-violent
bleeding in all the right places
heart, womb, mouth
heavy and light
i like the warm days
and the cool nights
sweat on your back like daisies
smile of a dragon
don’t believe in nothing
for a reason
everything happens
or doesn’t
but i’m a warrior
still and moving
forward and back
hot train on a spiral track
can’t be found underground
but flying
open and wide
free as a moon
balancing on the dark tide
i’m a warrior
woman all over
brighter than pools
of rock faced sea
just being what it fits me to be

Meditation In Action

Being with myself completely as I am
Heart cracks open
BANG
Blood spatters the walls
Breathing in pain
Breathing out even more pain
A sick child
A tortured wild animal
Rattling the ribcage
Longing to escape the body
And what then?
The heart doesn’t have a plan
It baulks at boundaries
Wants only for its raging voice to be HEARD
The universal empty word
Bad warrior girl making poetry on the cushion
Good warrior girl noticing it
Still the heart doesn’t stop
Whether you’re aware of it or not
BROKEN warrior girl
Oozing art like a confused clam
I’m just here
Being with myself completely as I am

 

Dechen Choling, August 2015

For all my warrior friends in the place of great bliss,
You bring me boundless joy
X

Remembering Raphael Jago: Giving up on giving up

Whenever I dream of Raphael Jago, I know it’s about not giving up. In the sense of not giving up on myself. Mr Jago was one of those people that cut through my bullshit in a really healthy and jovial way. The first time I met him was my first audition at Webber Douglas. All the other auditions I had were pretty standard but this one stood out. It was about waking me up. He re-directed my piece right there in the audition. He called me out on a couple of my tricks. He got me to address the panel directly, as if it was actually happening now. Which it turned out, it was. I left that church feeling exhilarated, like I’d just been run over by a truck, creatively speaking. I loved it.

I was put on the waiting list for a place at the school. Group sizes were small, competition was fierce. I decided to pay him a visit to try and convince him so I took a train to London from Leeds where I was living at the time, and I went to the school unannounced and met him on the stairs. It was a true meeting. He seemed amused and impressed by my nerve. He gave an enigmatic answer with that mischievous smile of his. I knew we had connected.

During my time at Webber Douglas my relationship with authority was, as it very often is, somewhat rocky. Whevever I go, I seem to feel the need to shake things up, to question the way things are run, to point out injustice, to campaign against complacency. It’s not an easy path in life. There were times when we disagreed. But Mr Jago was someone in a position of authority who seemed to admire this spirit in me and in others. I felt he had a talent of really seeing the essence of each person and their potential.

I felt he saw my potential, in a way that I could not at the time. He saw what was unique about me, and he saw the challenges it presented in terms of the industry. He gave me an opportunity to try out for a big scholarship, massive panel audition, terrifying ordeal. We had extra classes together, he reflected on the unique set of qualities I had, that was nevertheless difficult to pin down in terms of casting. When it came to the crunch I crumbled under the pressure. Nerves, clinging, hope and fear – I am frequently crippled by nerves as it turns out. Perhaps this is exactly why I have chosen – or been drawn into – a life of performance. It is where I learn. It is where I burn up ego like a moth in a candle. It is where I die and am reborn in every adrenalin-fuelled moment.

Two days ago I attended a memorial service for Raphael Jago at the Actors Church in Covent Garden. A church full of former students, all with their own story to tell about this legendary man and what he had meant to their career. Music, words, contemplation and much Anthony Sher, Samantha Spiro, Julian Fellowes, Terence Stamp, Steven Berkoff, Hilary Wood, Alexa Jago and more wonderful people paid touching tribute, through performance or personal recollection. I had not up to this point known that Arthur Miller had been Mr Jago’s favourite playwright. I had always been obsessed with Miller and had written my university dissertation on his plays, which I knew backwards. Death of a Salesman, quoted so movingly by Alexa Jago, was a particular favourite. I often think of Willy Loman’s line, ‘I still feel – kind of temporary about myself’ as a heart-breakingly poetic expression of the experience of living.

What thrilled me most was realising that my experience of Mr Jago had been so similar to that of many others just like me. I felt joyful to reminisce over my time at Webber Douglas, to hear the stories of others, to be part of that blessed tribe. I saw my teachers again with renewed gratitude and love. It wasn’t always easy of course. Nothing in this profession, or indeed in this life, is without challenges. But to know that I belonged to an institution, or rather a community that fostered such a creative and anarchic spirit fills me with inspiration to go on, and never to give up on myself.

Surrender

Pantless she left the hot yoga class and sauntered jauntily in the direction of the Northern Line, a tubal wind gently tempting her skirt skyward. The zip on her right boot having finally surrendered to the power of her leg, she allowed both shiny vessels to unfurl warrior-style exposing the entire length of her smooth calves.

“Excuse me,” said a gentleman behind her as she embarked the tall escalator at Balham. “Your zip’s undone.”

“Oh yes,” she replied, “my boot – it’s broken.”

“No,” he replied kindly, “your skirt.”

Huge mistakes, mistakes that were huge…

“Huge mistakes, mistakes that were huge…”
(Sean Penn as Sam in I Am Sam)

I’ve made some pretty big mistakes lately. (huge mistakes, mistakes that were huge.) Or maybe they weren’t mistakes. Or maybe they were. But that’s not really the point. The point is I made them. In good faith! Motivated, as always, by a desire to further develop the intimate connection with myself that this life offers, and of course, perhaps more dangerously, with others. Everything I do comes from here, from the desire to give and receive love fully, with abandon. Well, so sometimes it goes horribly bastard wrong. I walk into the fire and I get absolutely fucking scorched. But tonight as I arrived home to a freshly empty house and faced what may or may not be the truth of my situation, I had a new thought: what if it’s ok to make mistakes? And not just ok…What if they are even great, my mistakes? And the seemingly inconsequential small ones that slip drearily through the net…what if they’re ok too? What if instead of sitting at home beating myself to a pulp with a horsehair whip (I’m not actually doing that, if it were even possible) I could dance, dance naked in my room (or maybe with just a sports bra and appallingly tight lycra shorts on) like a madwoman (whatever that is) and celebrate my huge fucking mistakes, safe in the (lack of) knowledge that I will never actually know whether they were mistakes or not, because who I am now is partly because of them. And who I am now is definitely wiser as a result. Who I am now is learning to be itself the hard nasty brutal boring way with lots of potholes and although it is painful and infuriating to keep on falling in, surely that doesn’t preclude having a little jig at the bottom and a grand knees up when one finally climbs out?

“In the name of heaven and earth, you can afford to make love to yourself”
(Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior)

Amen to that.

 

Istanbul to Kiev and beyond

Every time I go on retreat things fall apart a bit more. This is said to be a good thing, although at the time it feels excruciating. The layers continue to peel off and the same questions percolate: what am I doing? where am I heading? what’s behind everything I do? My latest realisation is that what is behind everything I do is love. And what confuses this is fear. When I am connected to myself, my work and my life and the way I manifest in the world become an expression of love.

That’s a good start but it’s hard to pin down what it means exactly. It’s even harder to marry it up with the often painful, frustrating and lonely path of an artist. I have been thinking more and more about the value of what I create and where it fits into this impossibly diverse and hectic kaleidoscope of a planet we share. One piece of work I am really proud of is a song that I wrote last year for the Wilding Festival, called ‘We Will Be Heard.’ I really struggled with this song. I wrote at least seven versions before I came up with this one.

The inspiration that was guiding me at the time was the protests that were going on in Turkey surrounding the prospective demolition of Gezi Park. I was moved and impressed by the way people came together to stand up for themselves and their community. I felt that there was clear evidence of a common human spirit that when ignited will stand against corruptive forces.

There are many other examples of this, before and since. The crisis in Ukraine is now in its third month, and since November has involved many instances of violence by police against peaceful protesters. It’s a complex situation and not one that I intend to attempt to elucidate here, although I have found this article particularly helpful in understanding its genesis. Most recently people kicked back against an anti-protest law which was set to restrict freedom of speech and action against the government.

I am certainly no expert on politics and do not consider myself a political songwriter. If I could offer anything at all to people in times of struggle I would want it to be hope, strength and inspiration to continue manifesting with dignity the basic goodness of humanity. If Nelson Mandela taught us anything then surely it is that.

The song I wrote inspired a close friend of mine to create a video out of a wide range of footage documenting similar protests in Brazil, Turkey, USA and beyond. I was touched to receive messages of thanks and solidarity from people all over the world who had been inspired by this. At the time of producing the song I was entering a period of extreme chaos in my own personal life, which made it difficult for me to do much more than upload it to youtube and watch the view count. My intention for this year however is to give the song a further life and I am now looking for a charity with whom to collaborate on its release.