Robin Williams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Virginia Wolff, Sylvia Plath, Vincent Van Gogh…The list goes on. Artists by nature travel into the Deep, with the mission of transforming their discoveries there, through the alchemy of their craft, from straw into gold. There simply has got to be a place to deliver the gift, and the insanely commodified art markets increasingly are not that place.
I have been aware of the blessing and responsibility of being an artist for most of my life. Both of my parents were exceptionally gifted professional singers, and beyond their gift, they each understood art as vocation. It was their spiritual path, even though neither of them would have stated it in those exact words. Everything in each of their lives, and subsequently in their raising of me, was engineered to guard the path for the Muse to emerge.
The way they each lived- and they did not stay married long- was one in which the seeming madness of the creative process was tough for a child to manage at times, but the lesson was clear. It was this: whatever you have to go through to free the summoning of the eventual disciplined expression of that gift, is part of it. It is not just free formed madness. It is part of it.
I was aware of the dance between creativity and depression as early as age nine, when I told my mother I was depressed. I think it scared her. Her response was that I was too young to be depressed, but I remember the look in her eyes when she said it. She was afraid for me, and didn’t know how to help. I learned, and am still learning, over a lifetime of struggle with these deeper demons, that creativity is the cure for that depression. It is critical for me to keep creating and sharing my gifts, in order to stay whole.
The journey into the abyss to retrieve the gift is one fraught with peril. Some do not make it back, but it is my passionate belief that by killing our seers, we are losing our deep wisdom. And our world is in dire need of that wisdom.
The mission of T.R,I.B.E. is to connect and support the artist in each of us back to the sacred expression of that gift, so that we might be a transformational force for good…and not get lost along the way.
I have worked with some master comics over the years, including Rodney Dangerfield, Milton Berle, Tom Poston, Marlo Thomas, Jean Smart, Mary Steenburgen and many others, and my own gifts are comedic,Tragedy is easy to act. Comedy is hard. I have never met a comic who is not deeply intelligent, and dead serious about their work. And I am perplexed by anyone who does not realize that the cost of freeing the ironic, the liminal, the deeply insightful through laughter is immense. Some of us do not make it back.
Artists are truth tellers, but our world increasingly does not want to hear that truth unless it is packaged in a commercial wrapper. I, like many of you, wish Robin Williams had found a way to stay with us. But I think we have a limit to how much we can suffer. I pray that he has found relief for his pain.
We look forward to seeing some of you at our next gathering when we will look at the shamanistic role of the actor. Stay tuned for dates. This event will be an invitation gathering in person, but will be accessible through live stream.
Be kind to one another. stop competing. Your gift is yours alone, and if you are true to it, the avenues for your uniques expression will open.
I share with you, this work from Brian Bates,
About “The Way of the Actor” …
“For thousands of years, in traditional societies around the world, actors were seen as the guardians of intuitive wisdom, and the way of the actor was a path to knowledge and power. Brian Bates believes that this is still the case today – that actors and actresses fulfill an important function in our culture as modern-day seers and shamans. He portrays the actor as a creator of visions who transports spectators out of their habitual ways of being and leads them on a journey of self-discovery. Personal magnetism and charisma, intense body awareness, and psychic sensitivity are among the special powers that contribute to the actor’s mystique. Citing the observations and experiences of over thirty famous performers – including Meryl Streep, Marlon Brando, Glenda Jackson, Liv Ullmann, Jack Nicholson, and Shirley MacLaine – the author also draws on extensive research in science, psychology, parapsychology, and Eastern and Western mysticism to explore the significance of the dramatic art. He not only shows how the magical world of stage and screen mirrors our lives, but also reveals how actors and actresses point the way to self-transformation for everyone. For, as he writes, “the way of the actor is not an esoteric discipline divorced from everyday life. It is everyday life, heightened and lived to the full, with an awareness of powers beyond understanding”