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Showing posts from August, 2016

Midweek Musing: seeds blowing on the Wind

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This Sunday I was worshipping with the folk of Augustine United Reformed Church again, preaching as their minister Rev Fiona Bennett led our praying and singing and listening together. We were in Fringe Festival formation, raked seating and black curtains. I had two friends from my former congregation in Adelaide there, and spending the day in their company was a golden reprieve in some gloomy, difficult, times of late.


The Augustine congregation had been away together the previous day, contemplating their past and present and future; listening for where the Wind is blowing, looking for where life is growing, struggling, needing loving care.

So, because of this, and their congregational emblem of the dandelion, as a slant-wise take on the parable of the mustard seed, the reflection went a little something like this. Throughout, I sang a refrain from a song by Trish Watts in the book, Sanctuary, co-authored with Gabrielle Lord).





Parables. Seeds scattered in search of fertile hearts and …

Fanning the Fringe finish line

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In the title track on my album, In His House, I claim that I am Shakespeare's biggest fan. Bold claim, I know. Especially given my below par familiarity with the history plays. However. As Kat's friend in Ten Things I Hate About You (that classic re-imagining of The Taming of the Shrew) claims: we're involved.


My friend Heather said as much to Reed, Teddy and Austin (left to right either side of me, above) of the Reduced Shakespeare Company as I indulged in a rare fangirl moment. I usually don't seek autographs or those minuscule utterly forgettable (for the artist) gushing congratulations after a show. But we had been front row. Steve had played 'Dale' in the show. I had been one of the rain makers (squirting a water pistol at the actors during the storm scene). And I had laughed, and appreciated allusions and echoes and the skilful weaving together of Shakespeare's works into something new – something he himself was wont to do. I was bubbling with joy. So…

Les Misérables. Captivate Theatre. Wow.

I am now going to attempt the impossible. To convey to you something of the profound experience that was Captivate Theatre's production of Les Misérables.

We sat front row, I was on the aisle, my feet touching the steps to the stage. I felt the stage move as Javert and Valjean fought and the students sang 'Red and Black', as the fighters sweep past me, catching me up with them, to the barricade.

I cannot adequately express what I feel in response to this performance. We sat outside in the sunshine, in silence, in wonder, for a while afterwards, revelling in the moment.

In no particular order, here are the moments I remember, to which I want to hold on.

Alex Gavin as Gavroche owned the stage, owned Javert in the moment of uncovering him as a spy, having watched him intently, the only other character on stage, as he sang 'Stars' (I hope I've got that last moment right). The staging of Gavroche's death was brilliant: Gavroche himself behind the barricade, his …

Throwback Thursday : empty

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'I covet your prayers.' No, I do not think you do.

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I have been pondering a phrase I have seen a few times recently: 'I covet your prayers.' Every time I see it, I ask myself, 'are we supposed to not covet, according to the commandments?' And I wonder, what do you mean?




The commandment, tenth in that list Moses received on the mountain (Exodus 20:17) is:
You shall not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour. (NRSV)
In other words, you shall not covet that which does not belong to you. So there's no danger of a woman coveting her neighbour's husband, because men don't 'belong' to women ... sorry, that's another blog post.

The Hebrew translated as 'covet' here, means to desire and try to obtain. The English word 'covet' carries the meaning of yearning to possess. The prohibition really is about property. Respect the property of your neighbour, avoid jealousy…

Words spoken, music woven

In a pub at the bottom of a narrow cobbled lane in Edinburgh, a lane whose existence I'd only discovered days ago because friends live there and I was invited for tea - such is the nature of hidden lanes in Edinburgh - Lou and I took our places on low bar stools directly in front of two microphone stands. That narrow space at the far end of the bar was filling quickly for the Harry and Chris Show, on the Free Fringe program (free to get in, but not free to get out!).

Harry and Chris. Simple Times. It's the name of the CD I bought at the end of the show, and a song. It aptly describes that hour in the pub, the whole afternoon really. Lunch in the sun and show in a pub, with a good friend for company. Simple times.

Amidst the turmoil of uncertainty and potential ground shifting beneath my feet, this afternoon retreat replenished my soul.
To listen to a friend's story.
To have my story heard.
To explore the questions and challenges we share
as artists pioneering with and beyo…

Throwback Thursday: still crying.

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Still. Even with plans to close down one detention centre, we are allowing the power of fear to diminish our power to love. 

Midweek Musing. On dreams and debilitation.

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The stress, the anxiety, the uncertainty and the waiting have finally become debilitating: almost entirely debilitating.



It's the finances again. Thanks to generous patrons and donors, my everyday costs are covered each month. Thanks to two smallish scholarships, my tuition is covered to the end of the degree. Rent is paid to the end of the current contract – the end of this month. New contract begins September; deductions for rent begin October. I have no idea if I will have the money to cover it.

There may be a change in living arrangements to drastically reduce costs, but not till the end of the year. This change would bring with it an increase in obligations each week. I do not know if I have the capacity to take that on. The stress and uncertainty of my financial situation these past two years (on top of 15 years of student / part time precarious finances) has become almost entirely debilitating, physically, emotionally, mentally.

Results from a third round of blood tests wil…

Throwback thursday: a winking spark in a faerie's eye

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Midweek Musing: stories, gifted

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This time last year I was celebrating finding a tribe to belong to and love. Twelve months on, the annual gathering of the Network of Biblical Storytellers was happening again in Washington, D.C., and I was presenting or performing every day. Last week, I told you about what I did in the scholars seminar, which takes place before the Festival Gathering. This week, I will reflect on some of the gifts I received from others, individuals, and the gathering collectively. You will find reflections on the contributions I made to the gathering in this month's newsletter.



Elizabeth Adkisson draws you into the story with her very presence. She is grounded. She sees her audience and you know you are seen. She sees the story and its characters, and through her eyes, and the movement of her body, you see clearly the places and the people.
Elizabeth told several stories that I heard last week; the one I remember most right now is the story of the walk to Emmaus (in Luke) after the crucifixion …

The puppets danced: Box Tale Soup's Northanger Abbey

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This morning, just back from a week of storytelling in Washington, D.C., I joined three friends for a performance adaptation of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.We did not know quite what to expect. Elizabeth had seen a poster, been intrigued, and sought friends to join her. Some of her fellow PhD students at New College had shown ourselves to be a small, strong group of Austen fans, and from among that group, three wanted in.

Six puppets hung on their posts, back to the audience, as we entered. Music started, and Antonia Cristophers and Noel Byrne entered the stage, setting the scene, dance-like, pulling the rest of the props from the large brown trunk that itself became carriage, ballroom seats, thunder, bed, and cabinet of hidden letters.

From the moment I sat down, I was captivated, enthralled, delighted. Simplifying the story for this telling of it by leaving out the plot line involving Henry's brother was a good decision. Costuming and consistency of voices helped to iden…

Throwback to love

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Midweek Musing: of performance, translation, storytellers and a poet

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Yesterday I presented twice for the Scholars Seminar for the Network of Biblical Storytellers International. Perhaps reflecting on those moments will both give you an insight into some of the work I am doing, and also show you a glimpse of the work we have been doing here together these past two days.



This morning I was one of seven or eight people to tell the story of Jesus' encounter with women mourning for him as he is led away after being sentenced to crucifixion (Luke 23). It's a really short passage. Two of us were asked to prepare new translations, which were given to two storytellers each to perform. I also performed mine, being both scholar and storyteller (some of the members of the seminar are one or the other, some are both). Then two other storytellers told the story in a translation of their choice.
This was the third story to be workshopped in this way, and over the two days of these multiple tellings, we noticed again for the first time the gift it is to have a…