Saturday, January 24, 2015

Form, Content and Love

The biggest challenge to Eros - which is to say the biggest challenge to finding a way to love and to pour all of your heart and creative energy into something - is finding a form to fit your content.

Last night we had 200 people in Inwood, Iowa have such a good time at our murder mystery performance of The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Murder that they hailed my actress Maria and me as gods, had a parade in our honor, named a street after us, and built a small shrine to Kevin O'Brien, at which they are sacrificing farm animals even as I speak.  Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not much.

Somehow I've found a genre that fits my style of writing, character acting, improv and humor.  There's nothing else quite like it and if you've seen any other murder mystery performances, what we do is not like those shows at all (most of which, I've heard, are pretty awful).  It's really impossible to describe what our shows are like, how liberating they are, and what a ministry of humor and joy Upstage Productions is - both to us and to our audiences.

But it took me many years to find - or to shape - just this kind of thing that works in just this way.  It's a peculiar and unpredictable marriage of form and content.

And yet all around me I see actors banging their heads against the wall.  They love what they do, they would die for theater or the cinematic arts, but they haven't found a form to pour their content into.  And so they languish in L.A. waiting tables, or they do an infinite number of community theater shows, or they find themselves volunteering for non-paying gigs that drain the life out of them.  Or they find their form but they don't have the resources to shape it.  And so they plug away until they realize they'll never get anywhere on their own terms, and then they give up.

And I see it all the time in romance.  Women in particular will set their sights on getting married and will put blinders up if they find a guy that's not really the right guy, but that they're by-God going to marry anyway, once they twist his arm hard enough until he asks them.

And I see it in other areas, such as friendships and business relationships.  I have wasted a great deal of time on friendships with people who, time and again, would prove to me that they were selfish, narrow manipulative prigs.  Or simply game players and users.  Clients and employees can be this way, too, and one of the things you learn as an entrepreneur is how to avoid hiring vampires and aliens - and even how to avoid bad clients, though it may mean turning away business.

And, if you're foolish enough to evangelize in some way, you run into this all the time.  This is why we are told to shake the dust off our sandals if we are rejected, and not to bang our heads against a wall in a futile attempt to force the issue.

Because this is a great mystery.  How you love, what you love, who you love - and who loves you back - great suffering is part of this, and great joy.  But it is a mystery and it is all about a strange cooperation between nature and grace.

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