Thursday, August 9, 2012

The chop

Sat down in a chair at a hair salon earlier this week. When I sat down my hair tumbled half way down my back and I left with it cut just beneath my cheekbones.  I didn't, and have yet, to cry afterwards.

Don't get me wrong. I loved my long hair. "It" was very important to me.  I'd style it, condition it, curl it, straighten it, and make sure it shone.  I'd carefully trim its frayed ends and make sure it wore a hat.  I'd spent years watching "it" grow. Nevertheless, on Tuesday it got chopped.  I grinned as the hairdresser cut away my long locks and loved seeing it fall to the floor.

It dawned on me that so much thought goes towards our hair. It got me thinking about how much attention we give hair and how much effort we put into its maintenance.    Hair is a crucial element in how we present and express ourselves. This seems to be true across the world and throughout history.

With long hair I was Brynhild the Shieldmaiden .  With short hair I am Amelie Poulain and my grandmothers and their sisters in the 1940s. Without hair I'd still be all these women. Whatever fun I have with my appearance I am not my hairstyle.

All in all I'm happy with my new haircut and know that women and their hair are fabulous, but it is the women - rather than their hair - who make the stories and perpetuate awesomeness. (You had it right all along Mum!)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 burning flames to look on

Fiery sunset over snow capped Oquirrh Mountains, Salt Lake Valley

So the hosts met at Wolfstone, and fierce fight befell there;
Helgi rushed forth through the host of his foes, and many a
          man fell there; at last folk saw a great company of shieldmaidens,
                                      like burning flames to look on, [...]
-from The Saga of the Volsungs, Chapter IX

Have been captivated by Icelandic sagas this last year... it's a whole new world of literature and one I'm thrilled to explore.  The Volsungasaga is my favourite so far. What is yours?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A play.

           The Winnipeg Fringe Festival has come and gone.  For a week the city of Winnipeg was the setting for an ongoing myriad of plays all at about thirty different venues.  An absolute dream for lovers of theatre.
What my writing concerns today isn’t so much the festival itself (though I do love it of course) but rather what thoughts were fueled by my attendance of a particular production.
My thoughts were set into motion by a play called ’33, a Kabarett by Bremner Duthie who is its creator and sole performer. Set during the rise of fascism in Germany during the 1930s, Duthie plays the lone survivor of an entire troupe of cabaret performers . Haunted and escalating towards madness, the survivor and former cabaret MC (played by Duthie) relives his friends’ best performances. Heartbreaking and sometimes unsettling, it was utterly captivating. Duthie's talent and presence are unforgettable.
When a play is done well, I believe that there are no truer words than “All the world’s a stage.”  A good play draws you in and the theatre doesn’t feel as cavernous as it did before and you find yourself leaning closer towards the stage, and maybe your mouth is hanging slightly open in silent wonder. You are completely seduced.  There is nothing but that stage. This was one such play. It was well done. 
I'm no philosopher, but I probably believe in the importance of the Arts more than most things. I believe that the Arts are what define the human experience because its existence is so strange and unnecessary and that’s where I feel its beauty is found.  Singing, dancing, painting, writing, are not necessary to our survival. Theatre is certainly not necessary to our biological perpetuation as a species, nor is cabaret, really. But for some reason it matters that the ghosts of those cabaret performers keep on living their bawdy acts and that theatre exists because there is nothing more human than the expression of our perceptions and experiences by way of the Muses.
And ’33, a Kabarett and its presentation are a great manifestation of all of these ideas, I believe.  The play and its performer poked and prodded its audience and I was happy for it because to stop questioning, to stop considering the “what” and “why” we are or to imagine an existence without free would be a terrible and dangerous thing.