Pilgrimage to India

 


Theyyam in Kerala

Albert Camus once said, “What gives value to travel is fear. It breaks down a kind of inner structure we have. Far from our own people, our own language, stripped of all our props, deprived of our masks, we are completely on the surface of ourselves.”

Fear brings an added dimension in today’s world – especially in travel. After four years, returning to India. Invited to teach there yet decided to say ‘no’ and instead take a personal retreat in  India.  A photographer friend from UK took this amazing photo of Theyyam dancer in Kerala (see above). Theyyam is a pre-Hindu shamanic dance form that’s been around for over 5000 years. In the mid-eighties, I did a Fulbright Research year studying Theyyam. An uninterrupted line of dancers – fathers to sons – for over 5000 years!  Later, I taught a course on India at University of Texas-Austin and showed a film of a Theyyam shamanic  performer dancing with a live chicken during which he tore the head off the live chicken with his teeth! It was to prevent small pox. The undergraduate students loved this one! India is a curious mixture of the primitive/profane and the transformational/sublime. Imperative to leave your ‘western’ logic behind when you enter this complex culture.

It’s been intense if productive this year with play productions, a screenplay about Elvis Presley, recording two of my books now available as audible books (amazon and iTunes), teaching workshops here and there, and completing a new play.  Freud’s Oracle, a one-woman show about the American poet, H.D. who had a two-year analysis with Freud in Vienna in the 1930’s. Later they became friends and she helped persuade Freud to leave Vienna (Nazi period) and move with his family to London, where H. D. lived. I will be performing Freud’s Oracle first at The Ojai Retreat (Ojai, CA) on April 9, 2016 and later in Santa Fe, NM at the Creativity and Madness Conference, early Aug 2016.

An older play, The Women of Cedar Creek (NY Drama League Award; Beverly Hills Theatre Guild Award) will be revived at The Plaza Theatre, Carpenteria, CA,  first two weekends in April 2016. The Women of Cedar Creek – a comedy-drama – is the inevitable dysfunctional family play every playwright must face. Imagine my surprise when this play won more recognition than all the others. A valuable lesson: the universal lies in the specific – not the other way round.

Dare to be personal! What you think is only your story may mirror those of others.

Writing – as Life – is a process, a process of self-discovery.

Herald

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