Creativity and critique

"We might remind ourselves that criticism is as inevitable as breathing, and that we should be none the worse for articulating what passes in our minds when we read a book and feel an emotion about it, for criticizing our own minds in their work of criticism. --T. S. Eliot (Tradition and the Individual Talent, The Sacred Wood, 1921)

Last night we gathered together to read Marie's play. It's not finished, but what it lacks in an ending, it more than makes up for with its heart, voice, and tenacity. I'm seriously proud of Marie for creating something so intriguing, so insightful and so interesting (for lack of a better word). I won't go into any details about the plot/theme/characters here--I'll let you find out all about that once it's inevitably picked up by some super-reputable theater company.

Magic reentered my life last night, you guys. That magic smell of freshly sharpened Ticonderoga No 2s. The magic feeling of hitting print on your FinalEssay3.doc. The magical epiphany that hits at 2 AM once you've written your whole paper and what you've been trying to say for 5 pages finally gets typed! All of those magic, educational, learny feelings smacked me so hard last night. I haven't felt this rejuvenated or stimulated intellectually in three years. I have Marie and my friends to thank for this. How special is it that I have a solid group of incredible, sexy women who want to get together on a regular basis to talk about life, spirituality, love, sex, philosophy, money, and art?! Is this really happening? Pinch me! But not too hard...

It's been far too long since I've sat around with my peers to carefully dissect the subtle intricacies and implications of language, emotion and plot. Far too long.

It was enlightening to learn about a new form of criticism that exists in the theater world. As one of the only people in my close circle of friends who did not do theater at all (read: never),  I was fascinated by the protocol set out for the table read. We were to come up with "pops", "what ifs" and questions by the end of the reading. Which brings me to the reading--another thing I've never done before, yet I loved! Everyone had their own take on the characters. I had already read the play and so the characters had the voices I'd created for them. But when Anna read Luisa, it was not my Lusia. When Laurie was Lisa, it was sassier than I could have ever imagined! What a beautiful discovery.

For those of you who might be interested in our critique, we did follow the basic guidelines of pops, what if's and questions. Pops were anything that stood out, good or bad, small or large; Just anything that made you pause or caused you to skip a beat in the reading. What if's were my favorite--asking legitimate questions like, "What if that character wasn't able to hear her aunties?" and even more absurd questions like "What if at the end the character became a Nazi?" There doesn't need to be an answer on the writer's end, but it helps open up their minds to the infinite possibilities that might otherwise lay buried underneath expectation.

I can't help but feel overjoyed by the way we spent our Sunday evening. To be in our mid to late twenties and still have a fire in our bellies for something more than what we've been handed is something extraordinary. I'm completely privileged to have such talented, remarkable friends.


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