Teaching acting is fun, there's just no getting around that fact. Had a lovely, lively discussion with my Hunter students about what theater/acting is. The idea was to have everyone address that question and move on to some exercises, but because there were 16 lively, interested/ing students, the discussion took up the whole time.
I am assigning them the book The Presence of the Actor by Joseph Chaikin as the textbook for the class, so it's not only about learning acting fundamentals - the focus - but also looking at what that means, how that can be seen as a social as well as artistic act, etc. This was the book, alongside directing The Serpent (which was created by Chaikin's Open Theater and notated as a ceremony by Jean-Claude van Itallie) that changed my theatrical life and therefore my life. It showed me how politics and theater can work together, indeed always work together whether consciously or not.
To have the privilege to share this with a room of young people is just that: a privilege. To get paid, even if an adjunct's salary, a miracle.
Tomorrow, back to BCC and Interpersonal Communications - I taught it twice last semester, so not feeling as nervous as when I started back in October 2 days after landing in NYC from London with jet lag, having read the first couple of chapters on a tiny plane that got across the Atlantic via Iceland and then Goose Bay, Canada. The Iceland Local as I dubbed it back then and probably wrote about here in October.
It's been a long journey from there to here in a few short months.
Oh and the big bonus is the walk across Central Park to get to Hunter from the West Side. A gorgeous stretch in the high 60s, that can include a stop off at a cafe for a cappuccino, as it did today. I am looking forward to smelling the grass and the baby sprouts and blossoms throughout the spring, watching the subtle transitions take place all the way to May. That's the kind of thing I live for these days.
I have spoken to a number of friends about my age or a little older, and we all have the same experience: we now notice the seasons more, nature seems closer on all levels, even if we live in cities. Is it that I begin to understand there will not be infinite springs? That each one is precious? I don't know.
I do remember delighting today in the sun and shadow sidelight of winter and saying outloud-ish - wow, this could be a great year. I am too superstitious and have had too many weird-ass turns in my life to say it "will be" a great year - but I am praying at least for the openness to consider the possibility and to allow that in if it is possible.
I got a gorgeous note from a friend today saying she was moved by the last two posts, because one was so dark and the next one was filled with the connection to friends and warmth. I told this to another friend who said: yes, they go together.
In the recent past, it's been the opposite trajectory, namely, light first then the dark. Now, it seems to be going in the other direction. In facing the darkness, walking into the closed doors and shadowy places, light can begin to shine through.
I'm terrified to write any of this, by the way - terrified something terrible will happen because of it. The last time I was truly happy, my wedding day in 2007, was followed by the darkest day of my life - the miscarriage...a few years later when I finished my PhD, which also felt pretty amazing, my cat and then my father died. I have reason to fear "good things."
But at least I do want to try to turn my face to the sun when it is shining, knowing - only too well - that it's a temporary kinda thing. Then again, so's life in the end, right? Maybe this is the "lesson" - even if I'm sick to death of lessons...I'd be happy as a clam to have the second part of my life be all about dancing girls and glitter.
Welcome to my blog..
"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty
When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.
I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.
As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While felt blessed for the opportunity, after four years of this, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in my own apartment and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again.
I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with a new book recently completed.
I am now working full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, and editor. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.
Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.
For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani
Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now. You can also contact me through that site.