Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

My Friend John Wulp: A Man of Many Roles

My friend John and I have known each other for 44 years. He is 88, I am 69, and when I recently told him for the first time that I love him, he laughed and said “OK”.

My friend John Wulp, in 1977

My friend John Wulp in 1977 

In 1973, my husband, Roger Morgan, introduced me to John as a Photographer, Scenic Designer, Painter, Playwright, Lyricist, Broadway Producer, Chef, Professor and Entrepreneur; I thought he was joking.  Over the years, however, I watched as this exceptional man collected Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Tony Awards, while somehow managing to found the Playwrights Horizons Theatre School along the way.

As John Guare wrote in the introduction to John’s 2003 autobiography, John Wulp: ”Wouldn’t a bewildering array of identities imply no identity at all? Maybe, but in Wulp’s case that elusoriness of identity, its very multiples, become part of his intriguing and powerful persona.”

John is a solitary fellow; he’s never married or sustained a longterm relationship. Over the decades I’ve watched him listen to his muse (though he never called it that) as he seemingly stumbled into his next project. His unflagging spirit was inspiring. 

About a year ago John began to phone me from his home in Vinalhaven, Maine, to read me poems he’d written. Poems, John?  I’m not a poetry person!  Maybe that’s what appealed to him, because he kept calling for weeks, and I listened to not just a few poems, but hundreds… he said he just couldn’t stop. 

In fact, a collection of his poems was released a few weeks ago: 

Cormorant Time – A Madman’s Journal – Poems Written in a Time of Fever

So John has added yet another role to his life. 

CORMORANT TIME 

Cormorant time
Is devouring me
Alive
Each day it eats
A part of me
The very heart and soul of me
And yet I feel
More alive
Than I’ve ever felt before 

Published by Hugh Martin, edited by Philip Conkling: ISBN 978-0-692-80513-8 © 2016  

John with his portrait of neighbor (Name) Crossfield

John with his portrait of Foy Brown, a neighbor in Maine  

 

Recently I was compelled to call John to let him know how important he’s been to me over the years, and that he was my model for an artistic life.

It was when I told him I loved him and he laughed and said “OK”.

It meant so much to me.

“OK”.

Words. Words. Words: 10 Beloved Quotations

I began collecting quotations during my high school days. These words are not all related to the theatre, but they’re all theatrical!  

1. “All the world’s a stage, and most of us are desperately under-rehearsed.”  

Sean O’Casey  (March 30, 1880 – September 18, 1964) 

Sean O'Casey

 

2. “I got my start by giving myself a start.” Madame C.J. Walker

 Born Sarah Breedlove  (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919)

Madame C.J. Walker

Madame C.J. Walker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. “The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place.”

Stella Adler (February 10, 1901 – December 21, 1992)

Stella Adler

Stella Adler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. “A whisper can be stronger, as an atom is stronger, than a whole mountain.” 

Louise Nevelson (September 23, 1899 – April 17, 1988)

Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. “If you give an audience a chance they will do half your acting for you.” 

Katharine Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003)

Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” 

Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967)

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. “Theatergoing is a communal act, movie going a solitary one.” 

Robert Brustein (Born April 21, 1927)

Robert Brustein

Robert Brustein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. “Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.”

Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960)

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. “The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it’s so accidental. It’s so much like life.” 

Arthur Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005)

Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” 

George Bernard Shaw (July 26, 1856 – November 2, 1950) 

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credits:
O’Casey: The Irish News; Adler: John Chiasson-Liaison/Getty Images; Bernhardt: Paul Nadar; Nevelson: Pedro E. Guerrero; Hepburn: Hooked On Houses; Brustein: Berkshire Fine Arts; Hurston: The Poetry Foundation; Miller: Associated Press; Shaw: Magazin Gracija. 

On Creativity

CreativityWhat IS creativity, anyway?

I’ve been thinking about this question recently, probably because I’m in one of those why-is-it-so-bleeping-hard-to-create-phases. Though my trusty quotes collection has more words on creativity than any other topic, it’s a puzzler. 

According to Albert Einstein, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” which sounds as if  you have to know the right people in order to catch it.

When collaborators have told me I’m creative (much appreciated, by the way) they seem to use a lot of “i” words: imagination, ingenuity, inventiveness, inspiration, innovation… To me, it sounds hifalutin and mysterious.

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: kri·eɪ’tɪɪ·t̬i: noun / 
Ability to produce something new through imaginative skill, whether a new solution
to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form.

Yikes. Apparently it also has to be new!

The quotes below ring true to me when the creativity flows… and (sigh) when it stops:

1. “The creative impulse can be killed, but it cannot be taught. What a teacher can do… in working with children, is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I’m concerned, this providing of oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations.” 

Madeleine L'EngleMadeleine L’Engle (1918-2007)

 

2. “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.”

Marc ChagallMarc Chagall (1887-1985) 

 

3. “Learn the craft of knowing how to open your heart and to turn on your creativity. There’s a light inside of you.

Judith JamisonJudith Jamison (Born 1943)

 

4. “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”

Headshot Of Spanish Artist Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso (1881-1973)

 

5. “To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.”

Clarissa Pinkola EstesClarissa Pinkola Estés (Born 1945)

 

6. “This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.” 

John CleeseJohn Cleese (Born 1939)

 

7. “Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.”

Annie DillardAnnie Dillard (Born 1945)

 

8. “ ‘Keeping busy’ is the remedy for all the ills in America. It’s also the means by which the creative impulse is destroyed.”

Joyce Carol OatesJoyce Carol Oates (Born 1938)

 

9. “Decision by democratic majority vote is a fine form of government, but it’s a stinking way to create.”

Lillian HellmanLillian Hellman (1905-1984)

 

And last, one of my very favorite quotes in the world…

10. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou Maya Angelou (Born 1928)

 

PHOTO CREDITS:
Angelou: Dr. Maya Angelou
Chagall: Russian Paintings Gallery
Cleese:  Albert L. Ortega
Dillard: Phyllis Rose
L’Engle: George M. Gutierrez
Pinkola Estés: Getty Images
Hellman: Bernard Gotfryd
Jamison: Andrew Eccles
Oates: Agencia EFE/Rex Features
Picasso: Tony Vaccaro/Getty Images
 
 

A Life In The Arts

 
What does it mean to spend one’s life in the arts? Whether you’re a painter, a poet, a composer or a choreographer, your day-to-day reality begs comparison with others. A dozen world-class artists provide a sampler of experience: 
 

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya-AngelouMaya Angelou (Born 1928)

 

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

PicassoPablo Picasso (1881–1973)

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”

Twyla TharpTwyla Tharp (Born 1941)

 

“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.”

SondheimStephen Sondheim (Born 1930)

 

“If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.”

MorrisonToni Morrison (Born 1931)

 

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”

EinsteinAlbert Einstein (1879-1955)

 

“Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.”

AdlerStella Adler (1901-1992)

 

“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” 

Alexander WoollcottAlexander Woollcott (1887-1943)

 

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

Henri Cartier-BressonHenri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

 

“You know, when I first went into the movies Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived I’m sure I would have played his mother. That’s the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older.” 

Lillian Gish-1983Lillian Gish (1893–1993)

 

“The good die young, but not always. The wicked prevail but not consistently. I am confused by life, and I feel safe within the confines of the theatre”

Helen HayesHelen Hayes (1900-1993)

 

“The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”

Woody Allen CUWoody Allen (Born 1935)

 

Photo Credits: Adler: Irene Gilbert; Allen: Terry Richardson; Angelou: Brian Lanker/Little Brown; Cartier-Bresson: Jane Bown; Einstein: Yousef Karsh; Gish: Getty Images; Hayes: Richard Avedon; Morrison: Princeton University; Picasso: Arnold Newman/Howard Greenberg Gallery; Tharp: Chester Higgins/The New York Times; Wilder: Gisele Freund; Woollcott: The New York Times Photo Archives
 

A Pivotal Moment in Second Grade

 

A Perfect Role!For as far back as I can remember I have written limericks and rhymes. My friends and family predictably respond to my habit in one of two ways: they beg me to read my latest ditty and cheer when I do, or they roll their eyes in disbelief that I am making a fool of myself yet again.

The poem below was written after a meeting in which it became clear that our client’s Executive Committee was just plain bored with their jobs. Their inflated incomes and external trappings didn’t cut the mustard any more, and each one of them craved something more.

As we began to talk about it, I found myself answering questions about what they perceived to be my passion for work, and I scribbled this little rhyme as soon as I got home.

A pivotal moment in second grade
I remember as magic, a vivid charade:
Performing a play for the rest of the school
(It was Hansel and Gretel) and I was no fool
I chose to play the role of the witch
Decrepit and nasty – an evil bitch.

For a girl with three siblings under my age
To be able to torment my classmates on stage
Was the perfect role to play at age seven
(I felt I had died and gone right up to heaven)
My bad-girl behavior made me so proud
Cuz the school applauded my meanness REAL LOUD.

The girl playing Gretel, my friend Joanie Fleck
Took one look at me and turned into a wreck
As I cackled and snarled and spit like a shower
Completely consumed and possessed by the power
Of letting loose those feelings of rage
And I scared poor Joanie right off of the stage.

That day I discovered my very own voice.
Authentic and scary! I see that my choice
Gave birth to my first persona that year:
The beginning of my performing career.

Do you remember a moment of pride?
Of laughter or sorrow or something inside?
That piece of work that made you just burst
Because it was such an important first?

That magical moment whenever it was
Was a gift in the form of a meaning or cause.
And however outrageous or even appalling
I hope it defined your lifelong calling.

What was a pivotal moment for you?