Spring. Is. Here.
Obviously this means I’m not in Chicago right now.
Similar to Chicago, though, Berlin comes ALIVE when the weather warms up. It’s a time for change. Everyone comes out of hibernation, puts on their shorts, and looks at each other with a knowing “we made it through the winter” smile. You know that smile. Bigger traffic jams occur in the bike lanes than the streets and only half of the newly green grass in the parks is visible due to the amount of lounging bodies covering it. You know that derelict building next door on the left? Yeah, that’s actually the number one ice cream shop in Berlin for its abundant outdoor seating that didn’t exist two weeks ago. They open at 8 a.m., so that means you can replace your alarm clock with the sound of a screaming toddler. Try not to trip on one going out the front door. That would probably cause a full-scale riot.
For us Columbia and LISPA students, Term 3 has just begun, meaning it’s our last eight weeks. It feels utterly unreal to think our LISPA journey will be over in less than two months, thus concluding our first year of graduate school. The thought of leaving this city and all of the amazing people we’ve met has already made me cry a couple of times. Seeing the end approach makes it difficult to stay in the present, but that’s what I’m aiming to do with my time here and this blog entry.
The beginning of term 3 has brought with it a shift in the groups. Up to this point we have been organized into groups A and B. While we sometimes had classes altogether or could choose anyone with whom to devise, we have had most of our classes with our specific groups. Between each group, there has been an ensemble dynamic that has formed. We have experienced each other’s styles, manifestos, struggles, and breakthroughs. We have worked with each other in individual partnership and as a collaborative group. We also know each other by smell. Not kidding.
To experience this level of trust as a person and an artist in an ensemble is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. To shake it up has ranged from jarring to heartbreaking, depending on who you ask. I am of the mindset, though, that’s a positive thing overall.
First, there are several people from the former Group B (myself being a former Group A-er) that I had not gotten to devise with in the previous term. Even though I may not get to work with some of them still, given that most of this term is dedicated to more personal projects, I’m stoked to get to work with them in the classroom. I’m also excited to have eight new sets of eyes see the artist that I’m turning into, and I’m excited to offer my eyes to those artists in turn. Sometimes LISPA feels a bit like a bubble, and our groups can be like two smaller bubbles within that one. Too many bubbles can be suffocating and discourage change.
The part of this change-up that I’m most excited about is the relationships that will remain. This shift in groups is preparing our cohort for what we are going to experience in two months: a loss of LISPA (both in physical space and our facilitators) and our international ensemble members. We will then have to experience this separation from each other when we graduate, though perhaps not at an ocean’s distance. This will bring immense challenges and overwhelming emotions, and one thing is for sure despite all of this: we have been through the same ensemble journey, and no one else in time and space knows what this specific journey has been like. Nothing can change that shared experience. There are currently 16 people who know me in a way that no one else does. Continuing my close relationships with my former Group A-ers this term gives me hope and a bit of practical experience for when the bigger bubbles burst. We will be able to rely on each other for comfort, guidance, criticism, or even just proof that this singular journey actually happened. The old groups A and B will take their experiences into the new groups, and the new ones will be richer for it. The same will happen with the larger ensemble that goes to make work within their theater communities and countries. The same will then happen with the cohort. By making the bonds and experiences we’ve made, we are enriching our future lives and relationships with others. We’re only ending the first step of the beginning of an incredible continuing journey.
Here’s to old groups and the new ones, too.
OH WAIT I’M NOT DONE YET.
The last effect of spring that I’ll mention is…hair.
Everyone’s is changing.
I cut all mine off.
My bet is that at least six more will by June 15th.