Spirit and ecstasy in theater and beyond

Every day, I find some reminder of a guest lecture here at Trinity from a distinguished individual, either in my email or on a poster I see on my way to class. Most of the time, I have never heard of these speakers or of the research they have done. There are two things that come to mind when I think of these speakers: artistry and dedication. Whenever I see someone who is successful in their field, whether it is science, the arts or something else entirely, I tell myself that they are hard workers dedicated to their craft. I like to think that those who achieve true success are those who are dedicated to the tasks they have chosen to undertake, which hopefully they are also passionate about.

On Tuesday, I attended a lecture given by  Kyle Gillette, an associate professor of human communication and theater on the Bacchae. Ecstasy, as defined in his lecture, means standing outside of oneself. He talked about how being in theater also tends to involve going outside of yourself, whether in the portrayal of a character or the completion of an exercise. I thought about his lecture while participating in a workshop given by Teatro Potlach, a renowned theater group from Italy, thanks to whom the production of Invisible Cities at Trinity is made possible. The workshop was meant to help students prepare for their performances in Invisible Cities. It consisted of intricate physical and vocal work unlike anything I had experienced in any of my previous artistic training. In the midst of semi-failed attempts to complete physical exercises, I felt that I was outside of myself. All of the exercises that we were given involved grasping for something that was just out of our reach, and that put me in contact with an outer force that isn’t usually present when I’m not performing or doing something artistic. What I felt these past three days, in fact, is a sensation that I have never experienced in its entirety.

I have found that when I am writing and performing, my greatest bouts of creative success occur when I am not quite inside of myself. While nearly any successful task involves being centered, you can also achieve remarkable things by pushing your thoughts away and concentrating on that extra something you are reaching out for. Oftentimes, I come up with the best ideas when I am not concentrated on the actual process of thinking, but what it is that I feel inside and outside of myself. In subtly reaching for what I think I want to convey, I discover its true meaning, both in and of itself and for me. It is the closest thing to ecstasy I have ever felt.

With such great opportunities to learn from the spirited and passionate artists and inventors that visit campus, I hope that we all remember to pursue our dreams and dedicate ourselves to what we truly love to do. Remember that these people got to where they are after a lot of stumbling, and it was dedication and ecstasy that made them get up. With these attributes, you can one day be in a place like theirs.