Naming Your Toolkit — Julia Katz, Tuesday Thoughts

Julia1YES! CPT is at an awesome time. We are nervously, joyfully co-conspiring to form a comprehensive plan and methodology that will define our work to come for the foreseeable future. Much of our mission has long been devoted to “exploring beyond boundaries” – that is to say, dissecting places and spaces of difference, and crossing traditional thresholds to open up spaces of understanding.

Now, we have decided to embark on a long-range, laboratory process in order to do this better. This is a transmedia approach in which several members of the ensemble are taking the reins of different elements of our grinding machine, like Chelsea and Andrew are doing for our podcasts and Alex and Tyler are opening up for short film production. We have been more engaged than ever before when discussing our latest passion project – our upcoming theme is righteousness versus justice, which will delve into moral decision-making on two cross-cutting motifs of Internet culture and gender and sexuality.

…That’s a mouthful, but this laser-like focus has truly renewed my energy for this work.

I’m deeply and exhaustingly grateful that our group of busy bees is devoting a significant amount of their time and lives to this ensemble. If someone had told me that the ensemble would be in this kind of deep process even a year ago, I would have been baffled. Two years ago, as the group was first coming together, my naïveté would never have believed who and what and where Critical Point Theatre would become.

It is through sheer will of our membership that we are able to start this new production process.

The frustrations of creation, idiotic mistakes, growing up, and true loss that have peppered the road here were real.We have been on the brink of giving up. I know I have, a lot.

This weekend, I spent a lot of time with some folks who are working on creating a comprehensive plan for digital documentation and P1000448communication for socially-engaged art. I was humbled to be in the room, and especially during a moment when Liz Lerman spoke of using digital documentation as a means to lay bare the artist’s toolkit. There is a lot of resistance to this idea, because artists are guarded about their processes for a number of reasons, some of which have to do with competitiveness and a search for originality. But Liz pointed out how deeply people in the sciences cite one another, building upon common knowledge to reach new heights and conclusions. She exhorted us not only to beg, borrow, and steal ideas, but also to name the traditions that they stemmed from and build upon them.

This meant a lot to me this weekend because I got to spend a lot of time with both someone I consider a great mentor, and someone I consider to have guided. In honoring Liz’s idea, I’d love to open my toolkit, and cite how I draw strength from the membership to be a better artist, and a much better friend:

From Alex, the ability to endure with hope. From Andrew, a warmth that feels electric (but genuine). From Chelsea, maintaining real balance. From Dylan, a punk sensibility that inspires me to challenge. From Jackie, how to fix absolutely everything with a certain kind of grace. From Lani, actively choosing nurturing over destruction. From Matthew, to take time to smell the roses. From Ryan, to set your own goals and pace so you can succeed. From Trevor, loyalty that feels light. From Tyler, meeting-4how to stay steadfast. From Will, who knows that real zeal means being willing to change sides.

These guys are my tools. Through them, challenges that were daunting were worthwhile. We are building and pinging off of one another as a base.

For Bob, who has been patient, and let me walk behind.

Up next, we are joyfully moving into our own studio in Manhattan in a week’s time, giving us real floor space to grow. When We Grow Up is starting an intensive production stage, with a literal stage to perform on in a few month’s time. We have had recording sessions for the podcasts that have filled us to bursting.

The building is continuing, even if it’s only a few bricks at a time. Thanks to all who have supported us thus far. We carry you between Virginia and New York in our toolbox, too.

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