Ouch! The Role of Pain in Transformation

Leon Ingulsrud's picture

Pain is weakness leaving your body.

For many years I’ve thought the source of this adage was the monks of the Shaolin Temple where Kung-Fu was born and became the root of much of what we call martial arts. According to my research , it was actually a recruiting slogan for the US Marine Corps. I’m now not even sure how I got the idea that it was from Shaolin.

Wherever it comes from, it is, at best, only partially true. It’s a sad reality that all of us have probably experienced pain that is not weakness leaving our bodies. If I’m walking down the street and someone stabs me in the eye with an ice-pick, there is a tremendous amount of pain involved. Very little of it can be described as weakness leaving my body. It would be callous at best to describe the pain suffered by someone with a terminal illness in this way.

Conversation or Violence

Anne Bogart's picture

We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That’s it. Conversation and violence. (Sam Harris)

You push me and then I push you back. If I do not intentionally restrain myself, I will naturally push you harder than you pushed me. If then you push me back, without intentionally restraining yourself, your push will be even harder than mine. Without deliberate modulation, the escalation will continue. To speak scientifically, if the “top down” control system in the pre-frontal cortex of my brain fails to modulate my actions, especially if there is an anger-provoking stimulus like a push, violence ensues.  These reactions are chemical, and they are natural.

What is True What is False

Anne Bogart's picture

Yes, I have tricks in my pocket; I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.

(Tennessee Williams) 

In the current climate of fear and lie mongering, Harold Pinter’s 2005 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech is worth listening to again or re-reading. Pinter sits in a wheelchair in London, too ill to make the trip to Stockholm, and speaks eloquently about the difference between truth and lies, reality and unreality in art versus in political life. He begins by taking issue with something that he himself wrote in 1958: “There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false.  A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.”

Dancing in the Dragon’s Mouth: The Civic Role of the Performer

Leon Ingulsrud's picture

Tutti Frutti, aw rooty
Tutti Frutti, aw rooty
Tutti Frutti, aw rooty
Tutti Frutti, aw rooty
Tutti Frutti, aw rooty

This is how the inscrutably professorial Arnold Aronson began a lecture one afternoon in a theater history class he taught while I was working on my MFA at Columbia. This is also the distinctive beginning of Little Richard’s first hit, and one of rock and roll’s most iconic songs: Tutti Frutti.

Making Decisions Together

Anne Bogart's picture

My close friends who are jazz aficionados usually are surprised and puzzled by my aversion to a great deal of contemporary jazz. They assume that I would love all jazz because of my affinity for music and because I am so intensely interested in group creation and improvisation. They point to my fascination with the origins of American cultural history, noting that jazz is acknowledged as the first true North American art form. But the fact is that I cringe while listening to what I consider noodle-y jazz. I find myself annoyed at what feels to be chaotic and unstructured noise.

I do enjoy jazz from earlier periods, including New Orleans jazz from the first part of the last century, dance music from the 1930s including swing, Kansas City and Gypsy Jazz. I like bebop from the 1940s. But I duck out around the “cool jazz” of the late 1940s and especially into the 50s. I am lost when it comes to modal jazz, fusion jazz and smooth jazz.  

The Ecology (and maybe The Future) of Theater: My Summer with SITI

Nishad More's picture

In May of this year, I began my Fellowship at SITI Company, a position created as part of the Management Incubator program. The Incubator aims to give creative entrepreneurs of color the opportunity to develop their skills in a high-intensity, real-world environment. In this industry, the barriers to entry for administrative staff, management staff and of course, performers, are all the same, as many entry-level positions require significant (frequently unpaid) experience, which often comes at a high cost to young graduates.  

Hold Your Seat

Anne Bogart's picture

On a recent evening in Santa Monica I saw Bo Burnham’s new film “Eighth Grade.” I walked out of the cinema in a daze and remained haunted by it for quite some time afterwards. In the film, a young girl struggles to get along with her peers. She and her friends are glued to their phones and seemingly addicted to social media. She is desperate to be accepted and, although isolated in her personal life and at school, she sends out messages of optimism and motivation to the world via her vlogs and Instagram. 

Every once in a while, I encounter a work of art that feels so true to our current cultural moment that I become somewhat catatonic after the experience. “Eighth Grade” had such an impact upon me because it captured the culture of flighty digital dependency that I recognize as the base line, the underbelly, of our current daily lives.


Anne Bogart's picture

I currently serve on the Executive Board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), the union for directors and choreographers. Recently at Board meetings and, in fact, amidst many directors in the field, conversations abound around the phenomenon of theater directors who copy the staging created by other theater directors. The subject is discussed with great heat and passion in the search for due process and even litigation. What actions can be taken in retribution for a director stealing the work of another director? 

Although I am certainly not advocating that directors make direct copies of other directors’ work, I am interested in the phenomenon of influence. We do not create in a void.

Bacchae @Getty Villa diary 2018.07.30

Akiko Aizawa's picture

Bacchae @Getty Villa Diary 2018.07.30


1st day of the 2nd week with 3 new faces in the room!


Aaron Poochigian: our Bacchae translater.

Eleni Kyriacou: costume designer from Greece.

Kelly Maurer: from SITI to help Chorus work (I mean, everything)


Today’s rehearsal was charged with energy and passion.

How lucky I am to work with these wonderful people in this artistic place on this difficult/tricky but important play!


Bacche Diary 7/28/18

Leon Ingulsrud's picture

Here we go again.

So much of the theater is about repetition. In this way it reflects the cycles of life: seasons, days, the functions of the body and mind. Repetition brings our attention to the passage of time, what remains, what changes. Often repetition can drive us crazy, but it seems that the trick is to surf ON the waves that break, over and over onto the shore instead of being engulfed IN them.

SITI Company finds ourselves back at the Getty Villa this week. Although our company for the Bacchae includes some for whom the Villa is new, for many of us, this is a pleasant return to a place that we are privileged to find familiar and welcoming. 
The staff is so welcoming. The beautiful architecture takes on the feeling of home. The collection has been re-arranged which only reminds us that we had built up a familiarity with how it had been exhibited. Some of the rooms feel like dad and mom rearranged the furniture in our house while we were at college. Didn’t that chair used to be upstairs…?

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