Saturday, August 13, 2011

Curtain Up on "Othello Falling"

A diary on the creation of Othello Falling, by R. Paul Sardanas

Today the curtain is going up, after a busy week pulling together all the threads of this production. Of course at the same time I've been working at my full time day job, and taking care of home, but I've felt a tremendous thread of excitement growing as the opening day has come closer and closer. For a long time, while pondering a second benefit to support Community Action Stops Abuse (and the fifth anniversary of the Poets Against Abuse movement), I deliberated on how best to meld entertainment and enlightenment in a form that people could enjoy for its own sake, and come away from with a determination to do whatever they can to oppose cruelty and abuse --whether that might be to donate to CASA (the beneficiary of this benefit, a safe haven organization for women and children trying to free themselves from domestic and other abuse), or simply to try and be more conscious in their own choose, as often as possible, thoughtfulness, consideration, and kindness when dealing with the hard issues within relationships. Instead of anger...instead of hurt.

I chose Othello as the vehicle for the benefit early on. I've always been entranced by the story, and of course the characters would give me as a writer the strong centers of thought and emotion that I wanted -- to explore the kind of dark passions that give rise to abuse and violence. So I sat down with my many "Othello" themed books: Nabil Kanso's brilliant, dark and sensual collection of Othello paintings...Harold Bloom's insightful exploration of the themes of the play...several novels based on the favorite movie version, with a young Laurence Fishburne (later of Matrix fame) as the Moor. They were all wonderful, all inspiring. So in typical mad fashion, I decided to mirror them all. A series of oil paintings that will soon begin to appear on the site, a book that I can sell to benefit CASA, and the crowning segment of the benefit, a performance of a kind of play framed into poetry, to post and run online.

Though no actor (if I were to step on a stage, I'm certain my face would turn bright red, and I would forget every word in the English language), I resolved to take on the part of Othello. For Desdemona, I have many dear friends that I might have asked, but one stood out in a brilliant spotlight in my mind: Jaeda DeWalt, a spoken-word poet, a luminous creator of photographic art, and a person with a powerful spirit and heart.

Jaeda and I have never met...we live about as geographically far apart in the continental U.S. as possible (the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf shore of Florida). But we have been friends for years, and she took part in the original Poets Against Abuse benefit I organized in 2006. I have watched her unfold one astonishing creation after another as a creator and artist, and she has always applauded as I worked within my own creative and collaborative artistic world. When I asked Jaeda, I of course braced myself that she might be too busy with her own amazing career...but she didn't hesitate for a moment, telling me she would be honored to be Desdemona for this benefit. I described the concept and sent her Desdemona's first recitation, assuring her that I would totally respect the demands of her schedule, asking her to create an mp3 reading when she could, to launch the benefit. Within 24 hours, it was in my mailbox. Jaeda, you are just too much.

And so here we are, the curtain about to rise. We will add to the growing play-in-poetry every week, unless the demands of life interrupt...and I am proud and happy beyond words to offer this creation, along with the hope that people who are touched by it will walk away desiring -- in whatever small or large fashion -- to embrace an end to cruelty.

Visit the "Othello Falling" Benefit


~G~ said...

Loved your writing as I always do! Othello is one of my favorites. This will be a wonderful addition to your continued work to help support C.A.S.A. Jaeda DeWalt is a beautiful and such talented artist who illuminates your collaboration. Bravo to both of you for wonderful performances! Look forward to the paintings. :)

R. Paul said...

Thank you,G! Othello is fascinating to work with...I find so much in the story to explore of the humanity of both characters. And yes, I am so very much looking forward to painting again. There is something so immediate and powerful in working to craft emotions in shape and color. And of course the bottom line of it all is to raise consciousness about abuse, and offer support to CASA, and the important work that they do each and every day. Yours in light - R.

Jaeda DeWalt said...

R., your creative process is fascinating! You are truly a creative firestorm, a force that borders on super-human. I thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in your world and learning the details of how this spectacular project was conceived. "I decided to mirror them all" that is part of what makes you so amazing. I was compelled and touched by what you wrote of me, very sweet, thank you :). It's wonderful to be given the chance to be a voyeur behind the scenes. You are a visionary and creative pioneer. LOVE and LIGHT :)