This has been a particularly challenging week due to my apartment problems. I've been juggling that with school work beginning to pile on even before classes have officially started. It's taking a while to dawn on me that I would have live and spend the next and first three weeks of my second year of studies with all my belongings in plastic bags.
This week was mostly "orientation" and "rituals." At the beginning of each new school year, the Juilliard Drama Division has "Showings." Showings is our annual ritual in which all drama students in all year levels get to share a monologue, poem, song, or anything they want in front of the entire Drama community. This is also the week of the Playwright's Festival, where we see the work of Juilliard Playwrights "staged," with mostly graduating actors as part of the cast.
I've been juggling all of that with calling my landlord, the pest control company, my roommates, waking up to the site of garbage bags and a slightly painful neck due to the air mattress that I'm sleeping on slowly deflating through the night. I love order and all things in place, so what is happening to me now is putting me in a very uncomfortable space. In the midst of all this, I have colleagues in the Juilliard Drama community I can talk and cry to especially in the ladies' dressing rooms. I know that I've got people behind my back. It is interesting and new to me to sense that while I do feel that I am now in a place where I am responsible for myself, there are also people on the periphery who are ready to help when I ask for it.
Participating and witnessing these rituals made me feel gratitude. The world can be unsafe, and life can be ruthless and unpredictable. In spite of this, we have the opportunity to take part in something that allows us to touch upon something "divine," yet rooted in what makes us the human beings that we are. In spite of my apartment situation, I am in the midst of beauty. I get to investigate what it means to be human amongst outstanding and talented human beings. At the end of the graduating seniors' (Group 46) showings, they took out balloons hidden in (*surprise *surprise) garbage bags and released them on the performing area and invited people to dance.
I stood there, holding a balloon and looking all around: beautiful people, dancing, sharing, loving. And I felt grateful to be here.
Btw here is the poem I shared for Showings:
A Brief For the Defense by Jack Gilbert
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.
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Regina De Vera
I am a Filipino actress alternating between New York and Manila. I received my acting training at The Juilliard School. Take a look around!