On April 20th we performed a special preview of Sincerely Rescripted as a work in progress at Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland, CA to a warm and generous audience. Between the laughter and tears both on and off stage, we were humbled by the experience. Never before have we felt such a deep connection to each other and our community. To date we have received over 120 letters from 5 states, 2 countries and counting. The letters and stories of our community resonate within us all and have helped us develop our quality and intention as performers. In this renewed, raw and vulnerable state we are creating our best work to date.
Directly following our Sincerely Rescripted Preview Performance I asked the audience to sum up their experience in one word on the back of their program and post it on a board in the lobby, and this is what people had to say…
Connected, Passionate, Touched, Creative, Incredible, Heartfelt, Connecting, Emotional, Entertaining, Fun, Honesty, Memorial, Heart-song, Emotional, Core, Strength, Body, Voice, Word, Intense, Moving, Beautiful, Wonderful, Heart-wrenching, Remember, Tapestry, Celebrate, Honoring, Whole Hearted, Inspiring, Quirky, Great Grandpa wrote letters…1809, A serene and reflective experience!
I then asked the performers the same question, and this is what they had to say... Pure, Delightful, Holistic, Present, Embodied, Witnessing, Honoring, Personal, Expression, Exhilarating, Mind. Heart. Body., Cleansing, Beauty, Prolific, Emotional.
The audience, dancers and musicians shared in the CONNECTED – HONORING – HEART – EMOTIONAL – BEAUTIFUL - BODY performance experience. We look forward to future opportunities to share our progress with the World. Thank you to our wonderful audience and all The Muses who danced and played your hearts out! - Abby
I set out on this project with adventurous excitement and limited expectations. I desired to create a platform to engage with our community on a meaningful and genuine level and am near speechless by your responses. The letters received to date have brought tears, silent reflection, boisterous laughter and dialogue. Specific words and phrases from your letters inspire and guide my limbs. Physical contortions, contractions and impulses are born from the tone and quality of your written words. The movement vocabulary that we are developing is deeply rooted, twisted and grounded, contrasted by fluid and languid undulations of love and desire. We have not only learned so much about you, our community, we have in turn understood even more about each other and how we relate and communicate as human beings. Thank you for your contributions and we look forward to receiving future letters. - Abby
The muses are all home from our Fringe adventure. We have settled back into our normal lives – back to work, family, bills, school. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is becoming a memory, but we are all changed from the experience that we shared. There is a bond that comes from enduring a challenging and fulfilling experience together.
Our final show was probably our best. We closed our show to our biggest and most appreciative audience and we were all able to dance with that unique mixture of excitement but centered energy that happens when you are truly living in the moment.
There are things that we know we learned, and many of those are documented here in this blog. We learned to appreciate our own enthusiasm. We learned to celebrate how different we all are. We learned to manage our energy to make it through long, tiring days. Our dancing got deeper and more refined. As a whole, Fragment tends to relish big movement and overt emotion, but we found the quiet moments and the subtleties as we continued to perform the piece.
I’m sure every muse can say that they will each take something personal away from the Fringe experience. But I also think that there are subtle, subconscious and very deep ways that we have all grown and learned that we can’t articulate and that might change as our memory of Fringe alters with time. I still find myself humming our “Fragment chant” to myself and smiling with nostalgia. The chant means something different to me now than it did when we were barking it on the Royal Mile. And it will mean something different to me a year from now, but it will always mean something to each of us personally and to A Mused Collective…collectively. It is indelibly imprinted in our psyches.
So, we move on from Fringe but we take the experience with us. We will always be those “buff babes from A Mused Collective (and one guy too)”. -Shelly
Only 2 days left! This A Musing Fringe extravaganza may be winding down, but right now we are ramping up for our final 2 days of jingles and attention-grabbing hijinks on the Royal Mile and our final shows in our steamy little theatre at Greenside. It’s the final push and we are going all out!! -Shelly
They say that you have to expect the unexpected at the Fringe. And today, we seized an unexpected moment to make a fantastic Fringe memory! About five-minutes into our almost sold-out show, the lights suddenly surged and the power blew out in the theatre and all the way down the block. In our plucky A Mused Collective fashion, we asked the theatre management if we could just perform the show outside in the garden. Darren, the owner of the venue, responded with a smile, “We wouldn’t expect anything less from your group!”
The entire audience stayed with us as we performed Fragment in the muddy grass as the sun intermittently poked through the clouds to shine on our impromptu garden show. I speak for all of the Muses when I say that this was one of my favorite and most memorable performance experiences ever! The performers and the audience took a potentially terrible situation and made something wonderful out of it. We took lemons and made some magical performance lemonade! One audience member gushed to Abby: “you filled me to the brim, even my soul.” My soul is full too! Thank you to Greenside, to Darren, Tara, Twitch, Tina and the entire management team to the Muses and to our fantastic audience today at the Fringe.
There’s an ultra-feminine clothing store here in Edinburgh called “ness” (so cute, it doesn’t need to capitalize) and we won giggles from the store clerk when we dorky Californians posed to take a photo in the storefront. I’ve mentioned Abby’s use of the word “ness” before in this blog. We define it as the essence, the identity and the positive flowing energy that A Mused Collective generates when we are all creating, dancing and playing music together. This Edinburgh Fringe experience has made us more clear and confident about exactly what our “ness” is.
We know that A Mused Collective has always celebrated the goodness, the rawness and the humanness through our work. We are now proud to add: realness, sassiness, quirkiness, connectedness and most importantly, HAPPINESS. We are continually tickled that the biggest risk to take here at the Fringe, or at least the unexpected choice, is to perform a show that is genuinely joyful, where the performers show how much they enjoy performing together.
We are steadily building our audiences here where nobody knows us. People are always surprised when we tell them that we all have substantial careers outside of A Mused Collective, but that is part of our “ness” too. – that we are driven, ambitious, intelligent and multi-faceted women (and man). We had a funny Scotsman joke that the “Scottish psyche” doesn’t really know how to handle our bubbly, California effervescence. We are winning them over with our athleticism, if not our spunkiness. It’s all a part of this unique and singular culture that is the “ness” of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
A Mused Collective has finished our first week of Fragment at Edinburgh Fringe! We are finding the humor of the work and are truly soaking up all that this Festival has to offer. We have found that what makes us unique is our California brand of tireless enthusiasm. Here’s to week 2! - Shelly
Another great day here in Edinburgh! We are “getting our fringe legs”— learning the ropes and finding our stride, so to say. This festival has its own culture and way of doing thing, and what is effective here may not be at other festivals. But some things are universal and we have found that being kind, having real conversations with people and being our genuinely enthusiastic and friendly selves is the best promotion that A Mused Collective can do. Having an awesome show doesn’t hurt either!! - Shelly
“It’s been a long, long day” but what a fantastic day it has been. We spent the morning singing and dancing along the Royal Mile. After our sanctioned street performance where “It’s Been a Long Day” was a rousing hit (we even started a sing-along!), we mischievous muses performed renegade songs down the Royal Mile. The Fringe Police only stopped us once and I think he secretly liked us because he let us dance and sing for a while until the crowd was too much to ignore.
As with every single performance that A Mused Collective has done in the past year, we opened today in a massive heat wave. After a few technical difficulties, Fragment was hot, sweaty and awesome at Greenside. A blown-out cable sent Tony sprinting back to the apartment 5 minutes before the house opened, but we had a great show to an appreciative audience.
We topped off this great day with champagne, a delicious dinner and a walk through the city. We happened upon an incredible local band busking in the street. The bagpiper was jumping around and dancing while playing the bagpipes. And we thought we had stamina!
All in all, we are tired and fulfilled. And we do it all again tomorrow. - Shelly
The gang is all here!! All seven muses of A Mused Collective are now finally in Edinburgh. As our last to arrive, Jenjen, touched down, the clouds parted and we had a gloriously sunny day here in this city of “green, rain and stone” as Krystal says. There seems to be a heat wave every time A Mused Collective performs and I don’t think anyone in Edinburgh will mind if the California sunshine stays with us here for the next two weeks!
I started this beautiful day with a hike up to the scenic overlook of Calton Hill with Abby and Tony (see pictures above of our early morning antics). From the peaceful morning hilltop we prepared ourselves for the real start of our Fringe experience, for our performance baptism tomorrow. We will start the morning on the iconic Royal Mile where we will do our very first street performance. On the historic cobblestone street teeming with people, with the Edinburgh castle as the backdrop, we will gather an audience to a postage-stamp of a stage to preview Fragment. And we are among the lucky few groups that have one of these little pop-up stages that dapple the street every few meters. While the Fringe has a strict application process for street performances, the thousands of performers that have descended upon this fair city just can’t help themselves! People resourcefully stage all kinds of theatrics to market their shows; playing dead on the street in a postcard chalk line, donning crazy costumes, and reciting monologues as they walk. We look downright tame in our short shorts, tie flair and bustles!
After our street performance prelude tomorrow, we will debut Fragment in the garden theatre of the Greenside Parish, a perfectly quaint stone church. Though the church is right down the street from the Royal Mile, it seems far removed from the mayhem. At the base of Calton Hill, the active parish feels like a retreat, a little performance hideaway. Greenside has turned every bit of their grounds into performance space for the Fringe, and while it feels removed, it is a well-attended and well-respected performance venue. Martha Graham famously said, “Wherever a dancer stands is holy ground.” Performingin a space like Greenside, on their holy grounds, we are reminded that we dance and we share our dance because it nourishes our souls and offers us respite amidst the craziness that is Fringe. It is a spiritual act in many ways.
Of course, we welcome the crazy, which is why we are here! So, here’s to our Fringe debut tomorrow. May all the spirits, gods and angels be with us! - Shelly