Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cornerstone Days 6-32

Hello all! Long time no blog! I've never been good at writing in a journal and apparently I'm not good at blogging either, but I'm trying to get better...I promise.

So, I'm going to try to do a few catchup entries. First up is a summary of the rest of my Cornerstone experience.

Just as a recap, in July 2010 I attended the Cornerstone Theater Company Institute in Pacoima, California (a neighborhood of Los Angeles) where I lived and worked with amazing people, learning how to practice community-based theatre.

Some highlights!

Highlight #1: We got to visit a community garden, which I think is an amazing concept! To read more about it, go here:

I pulled this carrot straight out of the ground and ate it! Well, I brushed it off first...

The lovely Alice Beaver and I

Highlight #2: Awesome Mexican food.

Tacos al pastor!

Highlight #3: Me and my fellow ASM butch boss lady playing with babies at rehearsal

Highlight #4: More Mexican Food!

Highlight #5: Liz and I got to see In The Heights with most of the original cast!

My very illegal picture that I got caught taking...

Highlight #6: Fun times with awesome people!

Our awesome PSM, Alejandra

Karaoke night was CRAZY

Highlight #7: Seeing a performance by Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras. TJSF features 12 to 15 day laborers who meet at Cornerstone to rehearse original short plays meant to educate and spotlight the struggles of living and working as a day laborer without documentation in L.A.

Highlight #8: Daniel came to visit me for a weekend! We hung out, stayed at a hotel for two nights (A REAL SHOWER!!), went to Santa Monica beach, shopped Rodeo Drive, and caught Inception (and a pinkberry) in Burbank:

Enjoying breakfast at our hotel:

We quite accidentally happened upon the temple grounds!

Highlight #9: Our performance of our play, It's All Bueno:

As one of the ASMs, this is where I had to hide during the performance.

Highlight #10: I graduated!!

Here's everyone:

This internship completely changed my life. It was tough to be away from Daniel for a month (minus those 2.5 he came to visit me), but I'm so glad that he was supportive of me doing this. I got to see and participate in a kind of theatre that I would not have been able to in Utah. I plan on taking what I learned here and applying it to so many different areas of my life.

To kind of give a good sum up of my experience, here is the letter I was asked to write to the students of the 2011 Cornerstone Institute that will happen this summer:

Dear I-8 Institute Student,

Whoa. Here we are. I’m not going to lie to you—these four weeks were hard. There were times when I was blissfully happy with the work and the people, and times when I was, shall we say, less enamored with the work and the people. Despite what some letters may sound like, the institute isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. But what I want to focus on is my own journey, and get out of it what you will.
I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan, but I have spent the last four years at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. I’m a Theatre Arts Education major, and I will graduate in April ready (or not so ready) to teach theatre to high school students. I learned about Cornerstone in my Contemporary Performance Practices class—the only class in my undergraduate education that introduced me to theatre outside our typical repertoire of popular musicals and classic plays. Don’t get me wrong. As I stated in our first check-in here, I love me a musical! I am a musical theatre performer, and doing musical theatre makes me beyond happy. Still, I was fascinated.
Community-based theatre seemed like a more unselfish theatre. I was tired of the musical theatre world—the extreme competition, the constant pressure to be better than the next girl, the politics. Also, I wanted to see theatre that I can’t see in Provo, Utah. I wanted to step out of the white, Utah, Mormon bubble I had been in for four years. I yearned for diversity in both people and theatre.
Well, diversity is what I got! I was plopped into the Disco Prep Compound, as we called it, with students who were all over the map. I’ll admit to you guys that it was a bit of a culture shock. I had always prided myself on being a not-from-Utah Mormon who had grown up around mostly non-Mormons and had been exposed to much more of “the world” than the typical Utah Mormon. It was tougher than I thought.
I didn’t have a hard time understanding others’ ideas and choices in lifestyle, but it had been a long time since I had felt like a zoo animal being stared at, poked, and prodded by others. I was Mormon. Nobody really understood that. I was 21, and had been married since I was 20. No one understood that. I didn’t smoke, drink, or swear, and I dressed in a way that, to others, was conservative. Basically, everything I did that was totally normal to me was peculiar to many students. I was quickly reminded about how nice it was to live in Utah where you don’t have to explain your faith to anyone. Everyone understands your views, your general ways of thinking, and your lifestyle. Explaining everything I did quickly got exhausting.
Being in this situation caused me to reflect on what I really wanted in life—go figure. When I’m in Utah, I want to be out. When I’m out, I want to be in Utah. Where do I fit in the theatre world? Is there room for me? Who will value my skill set? Who will value me as a person? What kind of art do I want to make? Do I really want to teach when performing makes me so happy? All of these questions and many more started swirling around my head constantly at the institute. This wasn’t what I expected. I just wanted to see some new theatre dangit!
I suddenly found myself crying while doing Laurie’s value assessment. I was hit with the realization that I already knew my mission in this life. I knew what was most important to me. A quote from one of our Church leaders came to my mind. “No success in this life can compensate for failure in the home.” I needed to make sure that all of my theatre would work to strengthen my family, other families, and future families. Any work that degrades or works to break down the family unit is not something I want to be a part of. Community-based theatre fits into this so well. I saw families in Pacoima having fun together working on the show, and how happy this production made many kids and parents. This work is uplifting. It is joyful. It is work that I respect and enjoy, and I know you will too.
Don’t be afraid to take a chance on someone different than you. We can all learn from each other. Who knew that in I-7 the Mormon and the butch lesbian would become lifelong friends (look for us starring in the adaptation of The Fox and the Hound directed by Laurie Woolery)? Push forward, even when the honeymoon phase of the institute is over. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Don’t be selfish. Consciously think about how your actions affect the group as a whole and think of ways you can serve others around you instead of hindering them. It’s refreshing, I promise. Try something new. Be a good example of what you believe to those around you. You may be the only “you” they ever meet. Finally, feel free to jam, unpack, ask clarifying questions, read the room, stay at the table, move things forward, be transparent, and avoid talking sideways. That’s right. I just put those all in the same sentence. Word.

Camee Anderson Faulk


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