Week 17/2024: Somatic stagecraft

Week of 22 April 2024

It was a quiet week. I had Monday off to recover from the holiday and Thursday was a public holiday.

The beach with blue sky and light white clouds, and a layer of smoke haze above the water
Monday walk along the river. It’s autumn burning season.

Somatic Stagecraft

On Saturday I went to a workshop called Somatic Stagecraft with Jem Nicholas and Bec Tilley.

Jem is an Alexander Technique teacher, actress, comedian and all around excellent person, who I met through Alexander Technique workshops a couple of years ago.

Bec is a singer, musician, vocal coach and likewise all around excellent person. I first met her ten years ago (!) when she ran a vocal workshop for a community radio project I was doing.

When Bec announced she was teaming up with Jem to offer this workshop I knew it would be amazing!

What it was

The blurb went like this:

“We will playfully explore making sound and singing while tuning in to the body and working with movement, alignment, and getting to know how we can express ourselves more freely.”

Somatic Stagecraft

The setting was the stunning Golden Room at Kickstart Arts in New Town, which is a simply beautiful space. I don’t have any photos because I was so involved in the work, which is a good thing! (You can see it here.)

Among other things, the workshop was about how we can use Alexander Technique principles to enhance our body awareness, and create greater ease when we’re moving and singing. It was very fun and even a bit (or a lot, depending on how far you wanted to take it) silly!

What we did

Some of the things we learned I was already familiar with through my Alexander work but this was exploring it in a different way. I found it a really joyful experience that I can’t even put into words. Jem and Bec created such a safe environment I felt like I could almost do anything, no matter how it looked or sounded. It was so much fun!

I was reflecting afterwards on why it’s so hard for (I’ll say me, but I suspect for many other adults too) to be playful and free in the way that we were in this workshop. I’m sure when I was a little kids, I would have done all of these things with no inhibitions at all. But as an adult, it feels so strange and awkward—and I have to pay to go to a workshop to re-learn how to do it!

It’s so weird that the world squashes all this joy out of many people as they go through school and into work. If we danced and moved and played with sounds like we did at the workshop in the ‘real world’ we’d risk ridicule and rejection. (And our brains fear ridicule and rejection because, to the lizard brain, social rejection likely leads to death.) I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t want more joy in their life, yet we’re chained into a society that has largely lost the ability to do the very things that create joy.

I don’t think this is a good way to live.

Anyway . . . I loved this workshop.

Singing, moving in a way that felt joyful and easeful and uninhibited, interacting with other people, exploring lightness and heaviness . . . It was wonderful!

Week 17 summary

Habit tracker

  • 9.30 shutdown: 5/7 days
  • 8,000 steps: 6/7 days

What was the best thing about this week?

The workshop with Jem and Bec.

What did I notice this week?

Birds!

On Tuesday I saw what looked like a duck sitting high on a lamp post. I didn’t know ducks sat on lamp posts, but there you go.

A large bird flies off a lamp post that is photogrpahed diagonally against a whispy white cloudy sky
Flying off the handle

I was walking on Sunday afternoon and I saw flocks of birds flying up the river. I thought they were seagulls and a photo confirmed it. I’m not sure what they were doing. Maybe they go out for the day and come back closer to the shore at the end of the day. Maybe they hunt in packs.

A small flock of birds flying up the river in daylight
A flock of seagulls

I don’t know but they looked cool flying in formation low above the water.

What did I learn this week?

I learned that the Spivak pronouns (e/em/eir) are gender neutral pronouns used by people who don’t want to use the pronouns they/them/their.

I read the book Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, who uses these pronouns. It’s the story about Maia discovering eir non-binary and asexual identity, starting from eir early childhood. The book is written in a graphic novel form, with illustrations by Maia’s sister Phoebe. It was interesting and a very open and honest account of what it was like for Maia to figure out who e is.

What am I reading?

A book cover titled Daughter of the Plateau by Karen Harrland backed with an abstract image of rock formations and ferns
Daughter of the Plateau by Karen Harrland, one of the authors at the Tasmania Reads event I went to in March
  • Daughter of the Plateau by Karen Harrland
  • Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
  • The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
  • Queer: A graphic history by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele
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