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No contribution is too small - or too large. $2 buys coffee for a volunteer. $15 rents a rehearsal studio for an hour. $100 covers 2 hours of lighting / tech / set design. $500 helps fly Shailja to international festivals!!

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Friday, December 02, 2005

flowers and butterflies

Last night I decided to give myself my promised post-show treat in advance - an hour in a private hot tub at Piedmont Springs Spa. It was such a good decision; it melted all the muscle aches and tension knots, and I slept deeply and well for almost 9 hours. My average sleep has been 4 -5 hours a night this week, so those 9 are going to get me through this 18-hour day.

I've had butterflies since I got up - pre-show adrenalin, but it's never kicked in quite this early. Pranayama and asanas coming up, and LOTS of breathing exercises today :-)

I just called my mother in Nairobi. She said "Did you get the flowers?"

"What flowers, Mum?" I was baffled, thinking, how could they have sent me flowers from Nairobi?

"Oh, I spoiled the surprise. Well, I might as well tell you now. Sneha sent you flowers from all of us. You should get them this morning."

I wanted to cry. There are going to be lots of those moments today. I feel so utterly blessed, by all the privilege and resources and gifts that have brought Migritude to fruition. All the support and generosity that's bathing it - and me - today.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

France embraces positive thinking

Algeria's war of independence against France left an estimated 1.5 million civilians dead, and over 2 million displaced from their homes. During the brutal 8-year struggle, France incarcerated almost 2 million Algerians in concentration camps, and razed hundreds of inhabited villages by aerial bombardment. The use of torture by French colonial authorities was routine.

11/29/05 22:09 EST
France Upholds Law That Smooths History

.c The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) - France's parliament voted Tuesday to uphold a law that
puts an upbeat spin on the country's painful colonial past, ignoring
complaints from historians and the former French territory of Algeria.

The law, passed quietly this year, requires school textbooks to address
France's ``positive role'' in its former colonies.

The language stipulates that ``school programs recognize
in particular the positive character of the French overseas presence,
notably in North Africa.''

your tax dollars at work

11/29/05 16:02 EST
U.S. Troops Rescue Ethiopian Cheetah Cubs

.c The Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) - U.S. troops flew two endangered cheetah
cubs to the Ethiopian capital Tuesday after instigating their rescue
from a remote village where a restaurant owner had held them captive
and abused them.

The male and female cubs - whom the soldiers named Scout and Patch -
were released on the grounds of the Ethiopian president's official
residence after their 680-mile journey from the eastern hamlet of Gode.

``This is the first kind of rescue of animals, let alone cheetahs, that
we have done,'' said Sgt. Leah Cobble, 26, of Washington, as she
cuddled the two purring cubs on the runway of Bole International

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kill the messengers

Huge media furore right now in Europe and the Middle East over a leaked secret memo that reveals Bush may have planned to bomb Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar.

Predictable silence in the American media. Who cares about the proposed slaughter of 400 civilian journalists, in a country supposed to be a US ally? They're all Ay-rabs, right?

When I doubt the value of my own work, I think of people like the Al-Jazeera journalists. Like the poets and writers banned, exiled, imprisoned, tortured, killed, in this country and around the world. All those who face, on a daily basis, threats to their lives and livelihoods, simply for telling the truth of what they see. For speaking and writing. I try to hold myself - and my own words - accountable to them.

I know I'm ready for the Friday show now, for two reasons. One is how tired I am. I know how much better the work could be if there was more time left, but I'm ready for it to be over. I've gone from "if only we had one more week, 3 more days, 6 more rehearsal hours....." to dreaming about mimosas at Mama's Royal Cafe on Saturday morning.

The second is that I'm mourning all the people who can't be here to see it. I always go through three stages in the buildup to a big new performance.

Stage one, 1 - 2 months before the date: I tell friends and family they can't come because I'm too worried about the quality of the work.

Stage two, 2-3 weeks before the date: I stop forbidding people to come. But I'm haunted by the fear that they're coming only to support me - sympathy attendance - and the whole project is really a gigantic extension of my ego. So I hedge my invitations with caveats - "come only if you really want to, if it's not inconvenient, if you're sure you've got nothing better to do on Friday night, if you genuinely feel Migritude has something of value to offer you...."
The people closest to me have learnt to cut me off the moment I say "come only if..."

Stage three, 2 days before the date: The work suddenly comes together. Crackles and sparks. Is better than I dreamed. I want everyone I know to be there because there's one particular line or piece or moment that I will speak to each person specifically. If I could, at this stage, I'd charter planes from London, Bristol, Nairobi, New York, North Carolina, Amsterdam, to bring out all my people. And I miss everyone who who would be on those planes.

I'm so glad Sneha and Chris will be there. With 6 friends - Sneha always brings her posse :-). My sister is one of those people who's learned, after much frustration, to ignore all my "don't come" or "come only if...." protectionism.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

when saris speak to your sleep

This evening, I was rehearsing with the saris we use in the show on Friday. Each movement with them has to be clean, distinct, intentional. The last few weeks have been so focussed on technique and mechanics, blocking out and memorizing movement, that I'd stopped seeing and feeling the saris. I'd forgotten how Migritude began - a suitcase filled with untold stories and unseen beauty.

Tonight they came alive for me again. Instead of me going through the motions to make the sari tell the story, they began to tell me. I revelled again in the smell and feel of them, the pure sensual delight of playing with silk. As I got ready for bed, I suddenly wanted them with me tonight. As if they would tell me in my sleep exactly what I need to do on Friday - and what to drop away. And why not? If I can have a lap-desk, a notebook, 3 books, 2 pens, and an assortment of hairpins and earplugs in my bed, there's enough room for a few saris.

3 days and counting.......

5 hours of rehearsal yesterday, and a voice class in the morning. By the end of rehearsal, my voice was grating and scratchy, and Kim told me not to use it AT ALL today - no calls, no talking. No dairy, coffee, chocolate, between now and Friday night, because they're bad for the voice.

I'm beginning to get a tiny glimpse of what it takes to really dedicate yourself to the craft of performance. Everything you do, every moment of the day, affects what you're able to deliver on stage.
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