by Shelley Campbell
Here is another Rogue 2015 performer article. We will be posting several more over the next few days until Rogue opens. After it opens, you will also find many Rogue show reviews. To learn more about this year’s event check out our Rogue 2015 preview article, and check out our Rogue Performer event page to learn about more of the performers this year. You can find all of the Rogue articles as they go up in our Arts & Entertainment section.
My remarkable journey creating a solo performance
I will be 65 years old next month. Turning the life defining moments of my personal history into a performance piece has become the juiciest, most creative and healing passage of my life! Most solo work is autobiographical and my story, The Center of the Labyrinth, is no exception.
The inspiration to turn my story into a theater piece descended upon me in a compelling way that was not to be denied. I was attending a storytelling group that focused on personal narrative–the stories drawn from our own lives. Each participant spoke for 20 minutes extemporaneously. It is unusual to be listened to for 20 minutes without interruption. Our rapid fire exchanges with friends and business associates rarely give us time to formulate the next thought before the subject changes and we are off in a new direction. To take a moment to dig deeply into a memory and take the time it takes to formulate the correct words to articulate it accurately is incredibly pleasurable.
I would often start with a vague idea of an incident in my personal history that seemed interesting enough to spin a story out of it. As I began to talk it would often morph as other pieces of the memory would surface. In time I began to feel as if this story telling group was like a big crochet hook knitting together themes, perspectives, arcs of time and the people in my life into a more coherent whole. The attentive listening of the other members of the circle is a critical element in the magic–others witnessing and mirroring back with their expressions they were in tune with the story being told. How often do we take the time and space to listen deeply?
It took months to gather the courage to speak openly about the most difficult and painful passage of my life, the accidental death of a grown child. Once I did nevertheless I began to return to it repeatedly–each time getting a different perspective as I chewed the story over and shared it. I realized it was connected to every other piece of my life history. Such complex webs we all weave! I have considered myself a spiritual seeker since the sixties and being touched intimately by death ripped away everything I thought I knew and understood. At the same time a simpler connection to the deeper parts of life emerged organically.
I believe if we continue to “work” our own stories they continue to yield dividends in the form of new layers of insight, deeper wisdom and even compassion. Once I embraced this perspective I decided to take my story to the next level–turn it into a performance piece. I want to see if I can turn it into an artful sharing of everything I have learned. Revealing my own struggles in a vulnerable way has helped me become more tolerant. Attempting to distill the essence of my story so it will be accessible and engaging is an incredible challenge. I want to tell my story in my distinctive voice but I pray everyone will be able to see themselves in it too. I want it to be funny and sad and engaging and revealing all at once.
Please come down and let me know how I am doing. I will be telling my story 5 times during the Rogue Festival. The show can be seen at: The Voice Shop, 1296 N. Wishon Ave., Fresno, CA 93728, Saturday, 2/28/15 at 5:00 PM and 9:30 p.m., Sunday 3/1/15 at 8:00 p.m., Thursday, 3/5/15 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday 3/7/15 at 3:30 p.m.. For tickets: roguefestival.ticketleap.com/labyrinth $7.00