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      WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS PIECE OF INFORMATION? by Thomas Putnam

      yesWe opened our 8-week series of ZOOMED STAGED READINGS last night with Rich Orloff's BLESSING FROM THE PANDEMIC. When I direct a play, there comes the time of actual performances and the question of what should I be doing during it? My work is essentially completed so there is no real reason for me to be there. In fact, in most professional productions the director is seldom at the performances. Some plays I find myself pacing in the next room, just within earshot of what's happening on-stage. Sometimes I end up running the lights or sound. Some plays I am really satisfied that the audience is enjoying themselves so much, laughing and responding with glee.

      Last night, during the presentation of the poem series, I found myself taking notes, not about the performances by the actors but about the content of the material. We discussed during the last rehearsal that within each of these 26 poems the speaker makes an incredible discovery, most often about him/herself. The poems are explorations of what it means to live during a pandemic, and each exploration yields more realizations or self-actualizations. We know that any entity whether it be a country or a church or an organization, or a person, cannot grow and be healthy without the ability to be self-critical. Critical not in a negative sense but in a matter-of-fact sense: the ability to look objectively (to the degree that it's possible) at oneself and to what's so—good or bad or just what is. 

      Each of these poems is an avenue to discovery, and as I listened once again to this presentation I found so many opportunities to say “Whoa!” or “Aha!” or “Yes.” One of the poems states “It's time for YES.” We know that the basis for any improv work (on stage or in life) is “YES....and....” which allows for moving forward, for growth...for discovery.

      One of the poems relates a midnight walk in Manhattan. The reader observes a gathering of people, and the nature of the gathering, and the age and color and dress of the gathering. With each observation the reader asks, “What do I do with this piece of information?” It's a “YES...and...” invitation to grow.

      We had a warm and thoughtful and real discussion with people sitting in their homes following the viewing of the performance. It was good. We were connecting and exploring. I am grateful for those discussions. We are presenting BLESSINGS FROM THE PANDEMIC again this afternoon at 2:30. I hope you can join us for discovery. Yes...and...

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