New Year's Eve here is pretty quiet. Since we are all getting older. Our family has, over the years, eased our way out of hosting big family gatherings. It's okay. It was always a good time when we had the energy, but it's okay to move on, to create different kinds of experiences, like making nishime.
Today was the day the North Korean dictator said he would send out a missile to Guam, where I live. I really do not think it is probable that we will be hit by a nuclear missile. I refuse to take that in. When a friend tried to describe to me what it would be like if it were to happen, I had to tell her, I don't want to hear it.
This was written as a way to understand and respond to the great divide in our country between Trump supporters and resisters. I don't really think this friend will read this, and I don't intend to send it to her. I just wanted to get my thoughts out there.
I have not seen you since high school. I did not know you very well back then, but I do remember being jealous of you because you "got" the gorgeous new boy in high school whom you eventually married, and later divorced. I am really getting to know you now on Facebook, in the Trump era, as we are on opposite sides of this ballgame. While others may un-friend those who are so adamantly opposed to their own views, I have not done that. You are one of a few friends I have who provide me with a window into the world of a Trump supporter. I wouldn't really consider you a true friend because we only are connected through FB, but I am worried about you.
I wrote this to get a sense of how long it would take my students to write an exploratory essay on an issue that they are passionate about. I had been thinking about this quite a bit. If you have a reaction (even negative) please engage me in respectful dialogue.
One (there were many) of the reasons why we have this current political environment in January 2017 is because “he whose name I can’t type” was supported by the Christian conservatives, or evangelicals.(pewresearch.org, November 9, 2016). The white evangelical vote was a major factor that contributed to the current president’s victory. 81% of white evangelicals voted for him. (The Nation, November 17, 2016) This bothers me and I want to understand it.
The premise of my class is that you write plays about what you are passionate about. It doesn't mean that every play you write is autobiographical, but that there is something in everything you write that is about you, in one way or another. I do have a pet peeve when people who have seen or read my plays say, oh now I understand you, without engaging me in conversation about it. They could have pulled something that was antithetical to who I am. Here, I may be saying something very obvious, but I say it anyway. In order to write, you have to know yourself, or be in the process of knowing yourself. Therefore, I have an assignment that the students do a character study of self. I am modeling it for them here.
Though performance is pervasive in all cultures, the form of "written drama" in the Pacific, is relatively recent. According to Diana Looser in her book, Remaking Pacific Pasts: History, Memory, and Identity in Contemporary Theater from Oceania, it emerged in the 1960s, a time of decolonization and self-determination movements.
All across the Pacific, there are different histories, but basically it follows a pattern of autonomy, colonization, and decolonization as the indigenous people strive towards self-determination. As Pacific peoples emerged from colonization, art was used as means of exploring and expressing ideas about politics, identity and culture.
I am writing this blog piece as a way of preparing for a class that I will be teaching at the University of Guam.
I had a sense of myself as a writer probably in 8th grade when I got pleasure from writing poems, letters, and stories, both in and out of school. When I was in college, I shied away from an English major because I was intimidated by their reading list. But I did take all the Creative Writing classes I could, and wrote my first play in an Asian American Literature class.
That play became my first play, Wind Dances. Like most first plays, it was an "identity" play. Who was I as a Japanese-American creative woman, who couldn't break from from the expectations put on her by her rigid father? This play eventually was produced at an Asian American theatre company, the East West Players.
It's so hard to resume writing again after not doing it for so long. Everything in my mind, heart and soul is telling me to start again, to use my "talents," the resources and skills I have been blessed with to contribute to the conversation about the state of the world today.
I know I've said this before. Never mind. Doesn't matter that I've tried, and perhaps failed to stay committed to the project. What matters is that I pick up, try again. And if I drop out again? I will have to have faith that something I write will matter to someone, anyone, and then it will be worthwhile.
Not sure where I will go on this journey in 2017, not a physical journey, but a mental one. I hope it is with as much passion as Nina Simone.
The 2016 version of Festpac was such a beautiful testament to what makes live theatre so wonderful. The energy, commitment, and care for the "ensemble" that those involved put into it to make it happen was a thrill to experience. About two weeks before Festpac, we were told that it was too far from being ready, so it was to be cancelled. The actors, choreographers, and other backstage people (including myself) were very disappointed, to say the least. And with the advocacy of our musical director, Dr. Colleen Jennings, the agreement was that we could do a staged reading instead. In the background though, we told them to take it as far as they could in the time we had left. One of the actors, a very talented Joyce Torres, became the director. She was amazing as she pushed the actors forward. She only had a week as director. It was tough going, and even two rehearsals before our first performance, we weren't sure they would be ready. But when we had the dress rehearsal, it was clear that they were ready. We had three performances and they were very well-received. One of the best compliments was getting a wonderful hug from a delegate from the Tonga delegation, who saw the first performance. This was the first time Pulani was performed by adults in all the main roles. Most of the actors were experienced actors at the University of Guam, and they seemed to have lots of fun with the characters. Yes, there were a lot of shouldas (shoulda had costumes, shoulda had sets) but it was charming in its minimalist style. And the acting really took center stage. It had to. And it worked! So thank you all for your hard work and commitment. You came through with your talent, ntegrity, and pizzazz!
This past weekend, I saw as many of the films at the University of Guam Film Festival that I could manage. There's something about passion projects that is so contagious as far as creative urges go. In this creative phase of my life, I seem to be excavating those urges I had in the past. In this case, I had a stint exploring film in college. (Someday, I'll upload those films on youtube.)
Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.
... a blog to make sense of the world through writing and acts of creativity, to reflect on and respond to the crazy world in which we live. Can beauty, creativity, compassion, and activism emerge from this tension?