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 as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While was blessed for the opportunity, after four years of being an adjunct, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in NYC 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. As of 2018, I also started leading writing retreats to my beloved Orkney Islands. If you ever want two weeks that will restore your soul and give you time and space to write, get in touch. I am leading two retreats this year in July and September.

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 now work full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, editor and writing retreat leader. 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

In 2017, I launched a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. You can also contact me through that site.

In May, I directed my newest play, On the edge of/a cure, and have finally updated my publications list, which now includes an award-winning chapbook of my short-story White shoe lady, which you can find on the sidebar. I also have become a certified yoga instructor in the Kripalu lineage. What a year!

And FINALLY, I have created a website, which I hope you will visit, The Unadapted Ones. I will keep this blog site up, since it is a record of over 8 years of my life, but will eventually be blogging more at the website, so if you want to know what I am up to with my writing, teaching, retreats and so on, the site is the place to check (and to subscribe for updates). After eight years I realized, no, I'm never turning into One Thing. So The Unadapted Ones embraces the multiplicity that comprises whomever I am, which seems to always be shifting. That may in fact be reality for everyone, but will speak for myself here. So, do visit there and thanks for coming here, too. Glad to meet you on the journey...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wedding(s) & God(s) & Bushwick(s), oh my!

So much to write about, so little time...

As mentioned in the last post, there were two staged readings of my newest stage text '...whatever God is': a love story but before that - not mentioned because no photos to accompany the mention of it, was wedding number 2 with John in Inwood Hill Park! This was a ceremony meant for our family and friends, the one we couldn't have in rush last July...more on that at the end (saving the best for last!)

I recently also saw a show I really liked, Any Size Mirror is a Dictator by Panoply Labs - a process-based dance-opera, the likes of which you have never seen. The prospect of this cumulative event brought me to the dreaded hipster-than-thou Bushwick to Momenta Arts, and it was worth it. Bushwick, for anyone who hasn't been there yet, basically looks like an extended college campus amidst old warehouses and two-story houses that looks now like Williamsburg did back in the day (early 90s) - except it's already way too expensive - to be young and in NYC these days is kind of a disaster. Word on the street these days is most artists are living in places like Detroit. I get it. As for Bushwick now, I found myself both attracted and repelled. Attracted because it's a bunch of artists with little money (my people) and yet - as with any new-ish scene in NYC - it's predominantly young. I am now 51 and as such feel a bit aged out of that hood, which is the de facto set of Girls. On the other hand, this show...

...which was not so much a show as an experience - reminiscent of the kind we created with Apocryphal Theatre back in London - but with the advantage of having worked on this piece for a long time and presenting it as a cumulative set of process-based performances over 7-weeks in one space.

These kinds of experiences are hard to explain and I therefore encourage you to see Panoply's work whenever you can...but suffice to say the images, ideas, sounds and movements created many moments that we as the witnesses could bring together in our own consciousness as we saw fit, this last section of the opera being appropriately titled AGENCY. They also kept their rehearsal process open, which I watched that day, too. The building of a language between bodies that is both understood as intimate but also accessible - not in the sense of spelled out - in fact the entire performance gorgeously resisted signification (without losing a sense of significance - a neat trick) - but instead in the sense of: if you remain available to all the sensations, images, sounds (complex music by Brian McKorkle with text and direction by Esther Neff - and an astonishing ensemble of women who can move in all kinds of exciting and unexpected ways and musicians who can work with all of this), there is an experience available of a kind of psychic rearrangement. A sense of potentiality, of somehow touching the productive unconscious that Deleuze & Guattari are on about - but without being lectured at or to...a true delight. The last time I've ever had that experience has been at a Richard Foreman show. This has the advantage of now feeling like a much more feminist manifestation - a true female agency being embodied, which was deeply refreshing. Woman as subject(s), not object (s). At times I got totally lost, was annoyed, etc., but in the way life happens, so I am cool with that. The piece fed (is feeding) my soul over time rather than frittering away like a refined sugar in an hour like a more straightforward show might have done.

UPDATE (12/19): I received a note from Panoply asking me to mention that this piece was created in  collaboration with choreographer Lindsey Drury of Drearysomebody.  Duly noted.  All concerned deserve credit!

The two readings of my own piece '...whatever God is' were two distinct experiences - one with a small audience, the first blush experiment - some kind of simple, happy thing...the next version - also an experiment - two weeks later with no rehearsal in between - with a larger audience - had a very different vibe because the actors could not move around as easily and there was this sense of the second time around. However, the actors did spectacularly well with dense and difficult material, improvising their way through the text and having spontaneous conversations between themselves and with willing audience members.

My vision for this William James-inspired piece is simple: theater as conversation...the opposite of the 21st Century 24/7 Performance Imperative...However, when attempted in a theater space, some folks have difficulty with this kind of thing and keep waiting for Some Normal Theater to Happen. So as not to be hopelessly abstract, below are some photos of the reading to give you a sense of what I'm on about....

(Pictures from the reading - taken by John Barclay-Morton)

Christian Huygen, Shawn Cuddy, Roy Koshy (back) and Alyssa Simon - theater as (animated) conversation

Roy, Maria Silverman (back) and Shawn - actors discussing how they themselves deal with pain and grieving.
Alyssa - just a note to say: she's in Autograce, too!

Christian, Maria, Roy, Shawn & Alyssa - listening to audience member telling us about her own mystical experience - we were happy some people felt good participating in talking about '...whatever God is'

I hope to find a way to make this piece happen the way I envision it in different rooms, layered, over time. Seeing Panoply Labs reminded me of what is possible again, and for that I am quite grateful. Sometimes I feel I must pit things into a certain Theater-Specific box, when I know better than that from my time in London and even some of the stuff I did before I left for London, so am glad to have my cage re-opened...

Speaking of which...

The brilliant Ian W. Hill of Gemini CollisionWorks is directing another text of mine My First Autograce Homeography (1973-74) at The Brick November 14-22 - this is a cut up from memories I wrote down from that period of time in my life - when a traumatic period of time for me coincided with a traumatic period of time for the U.S. While I was living with a caretaker who suffered a psychotic break, Watergate was unfolding. As I was released from this woman's apartment where she was holding me hostage, Patty Hearst was kidnapped. As the movie The Exorcist was released, my caretaker, Mrs. Levine, decided I was evil - being 10 years old and all, and the age of the possessed girl in The Exorcist. I discovered doing research for my grandmothers book that during the same time Mrs. Levine spiraled down to truly crazy and dangerous, someone tried to rape and strangle my grandmother Jani (who then went and used that experience to change the rape laws in Wisconsin, which in 1974 were crazy - like for instance attempted rape was a misdemeanor and raping your wife was cool). It was a weird fucking time for the country and a scary fucking time for me. The piece is a cut-up however, so not a literal retelling - there are images and ideas that link into larger realities - and I really, really wanted someone else to direct it, because it's clearly too close to me.

So, in case you didn't live then or didn't get enough of the early 1970s the first time around, or were perhaps let's say a bit too high to remember it (that'd be about 50% of you who were young adults then at a guess), come on down to The Brick Theater in Williamsburg and see what Ian has done with this piece. This event promises to be a multi-media feast (Ian being old enough to remember this time, he's got his own references, so it's not going to be a personal story - but a kind of non-generational time-summoning, I think).

The reason this is so exciting for me is this is the First Time someone besides me has directed a full production of one of my texts. Because I seem to be shuffling over to the writing corner more and more by inclination (though that could change - most of my life has been a swing between directing and holing up somewhere doing more private stuff like writing) - having the privilege of giving this text to someone else - who I know for certain gets this work direct and design it, is a great feeling. (Weird small fact: this is the last text I wrote before 9/11/01.)

If you haven't seen Ian's work yet, then that should be enough of a reason to go, not to mention the kick-ass cast: John Amir, David Arthur Bachrach, Olivia Baseman, Derrick Peterson, Alyssa Simon and Stephanie Willing.

I wrote a long blog about theater I attended in NYC in August 2011, that included a long bit about two plays of Ian's in contra-distinction to a trend I was seeing of easy irony: Irony & its Discontents. Check it out if you want to know why I think you should make yourself acquainted with his work (and it's one my most popular blog posts)

I hope to see you there...

Finally - last but in no way least: wedding! John and I got married Again on October 4 in Inwood Hill Park. Photos are still arriving, but a few samples are below. The ceremony was officiated by our amazing friend Shawn Cuddy and included many rituals sacred to us, including (since it was Yom Kippur and because it's a beautiful ceremony) a Yom Kippur-inspired Tashlich ceremony led by friend Candace (who is the reason I ever met John since she convinced me to join OKCupid - where I found him - as anyone who's read this blog knows...go back to December 2012 and read on, if you wanna know).

We spent two days prior in fear we could not do the ceremony outside where we wanted it - in the park at the point where the Harlem and Hudson Rivers meet - because it was supposed to pour-ass rain All Day Long - which it did. We moved the ceremony to later in afternoon in hopes the skies would clear - and they did! So we had a beautiful ceremony surrounded by intrepid friends and family. There was a also, in relation to the Tashlich-inpsired ceremony, wherein you throw something into the river to let go of your sins/burdens (whatever you want to call them) for the year to let them go, a 5 minute silence - at which time folks looked at the river as the sun was setting. This was in honor of my meditation practice but also - no surprise to anyone who knows me well - John Cage.

There were many other beautiful moments, such as an invocation of the Four Directions (something at first I did not get but was so important to John & Shawn that I found my way into it and was moved) and hand-fasting, an old pre-Christian wedding ritual that involves symbolically binding the hands while saying vows - and us reading to each other our own vows. We also had friends read poems, by others and themselves.

I did not realize until afterwards how meaningful this would all be for us, because we were already married, but something about people surrounding us in a circle, putting all this time and energy into getting the ceremony to say and be what we wanted, having it led by a good friend I've known since 1981 (!), made it all - meaning John's and my union in relation to our community - feel even more solid.  The calling to the Four Directions also seems to root us here on the earth somehow, too. I know that sounds pretty hippie, but as friend Nathan said at our toast later "Hooray for hippie weddings!" It's so who we are like it or not, and it's So Inwood (where the nearby Indian Road Cafe plays Neil Young with no irony - and is the NYC epicenter of the white pony-tail).

After the ceremony, we had a potluck reception at Bread and Yoga Studio - which was simple and lovely. John and I both feel blessed to be surrounded and supported by such love. If you were there, thank you so much for being a part of that beautiful day. If you couldn't attend but sent us your love and good wishes, we held you in our hearts. We will always remember this day.

Special shout-outs, too, to to Kate Vargas who sang at the ceremony (see my blog post about her music from January) - this woman can sing!  And to Alyson Lounsbury (amazing poet) who wrote us a wedding poem (and also did my hair and held my hand throughout the day...a truly indispensable human). Friend Nathan who got chairs and tables and read a D.H. Lawrence poem, Christian who just helped with everything like always, Nanette who made sure Something happened for reception decorations, Peter who read Rumi, Julie who read Levertov and my mother Robin, who is the only human being to have attended all three - count 'em three - of my weddings. Damn, that's love, isn't it??

calling in 4 directions - John smudging & me fanning

walking into the circle together - check out yellow orchid bouquet!

more Canadians flew in (and they did make themselves known!)

the sun was setting, so this is grainy, but was during the 5" silence, a lovely moment

Monday, October 6, 2014

'...whatever God is'

I'm still here! The book is now in Very rough draft form, much needs to be added and much taken away...

Let this post act as an invitation to you (on October 7 or 21 at 7pm) to a staged reading of my newest play-like-thing ('...whatever God is': a love story) at Stage Left Studio in NYC. Address is 214 W. 30th Street, 6th Floor.

Details for tickets (which are recommended because it's a small space) are at this link.

An interview with me that can contextualize the work is here.

I am directing this staged reading (of sorts) in collaboration with this fabulous cast:

Shawn Cuddy, Christian Huygen, Roy Koshy, Maria Silverman & Alyssa Simon

'…whatever God is': a love story is a meditation on sudden loss, mortality, grieving, transformation & unexpected joy…and how faith relates to these experiences. 

This text-material is inspired by the American philosopher's William James' Varieties of Religious Experience, a publication of his Gifford lectures given in Edinburgh from 1901-1902. His view of a 'religious experience' accords more with what we would call now a 'spiritual experience' in that he was not at all concerned with religious dogma, but instead the transformative effect of these events on the person's behavior in the world. James' insights struck me as remarkably contemporary and particularly relevant now in a world where there seems to be an undeclared, yet persistent, war between the sacred and the secular, as if there can be no overlap between the two - either because of fundamentalist religion and/or fundamentalist secularism.

Also included in this text are anecdotes James included in his lectures, excerpts from Carl Jung, the Sufi poet Rumi and last but not least: The Book of Job, which I found myself reading many times over the past number of years to work through both some private and very public losses.


A basic premise of this event is this thought:

Because we are now mandated - or at the very least pressured - to perform in life and work, in public and in private (especially with the advent of social media), perhaps the role of the theater in the 21st Century is to allow a space for people to stop performing and instead to gather in a room to have a real conversation about what we are doing here, who we are and how to become the people we want to be with one another.