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My name is Ni-Shaat My name is Ni-Shaat
by David Sparenberg
2010-02-21 10:18:29
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Performance work based on the play Eloise

 

This piece was composed to create a performance opportunity for Ni-Shaat Herandien, a young woman from South Africa.  Primarily the composition consists of parts taken from my play ELOISE.  In the original work Taya Huang of Taiwan was the second cast member.  These two talented and attractive young women, through the contrasts of their ethnicities and vocal accents, embodied an aesthetic of elegance and eloquences by which to communicate the ecosophic substance of the text.

 

There is a movement segment here as well, which introduces the performance and  in variations sets up the Invocation and the revisiting of the initial monologue.  This physical part is made up of combined elements from an actor centering exercise I learned by way of Susan Dibble and a bit of Qi Gong.  I call the movement Honoring the Directions and Centering in the Dan Tien.  The title is nearly as long as the movement itself but it does describe what the physical part is here to accomplish.  At the end of the text, you will find a detailed description of this choreography, identified there as Honoring & Centering A, B and C.  A is the complete choreography, B a truncated version and C a repetition as a mirror, wherein the two players face one another as mirror reversal imitations.

 

Honoring the Directions and Centering in the Dan Tien – A*

 

Ni-Shaat: My name is Ni-Shaat.  This is my homeland.  It has been the home of my parents and my mother’s mothers and my father’s fathers for uncounted generations.

 

This is our land, but we do not own it.  All that is here, we share with our many relations in the full circle of life: with the winged people who travel the sky, with the people of the moving waters, with the four legged and with the many clans and tribes of two legged.  All of us, the many walks, are part of what is.  No one people possess creation.  But each is responsible to live in a right way and help to maintain balance.

 

I know these things and know, too, that the laws of nature are good laws.  The mystery is filled with motion and the constancy of change.  There are many, many cycles in the great circle of life, which encompasses all.

 

This is truth.  Whoever does not live in truth is out of balance; is in harm’s way.  I know these things.  My mother is a healer and my father is an important man in council.  I do not descend from ignorant stock.  But the heart, which breeds a vigilant and dulcetly voracious fire, is not always wise.  Sometimes the heart is stricken with grief that summons a lover to the narrowest rim, above a yawning precipice, beyond which the unknown conceals our nothingness in transparent air.

 

Which is stronger, which, fear or grief?  In my flesh, I feel the storm of torment raging.

 

Death terrifies awareness.  Everyone is afraid.  Everyone suffers.  Every living one is crucified through the movement of time.  And we all make choices.  Choices for seven generations.  Seven generations of blessing and balance, or seven generations of fear and grief—of excess, madness, suffering.  And the heart…the heart, the heart is not always wise.

  

Taya: Arise

and go into the heart of distance.

Be far from where you arose.

Yet memory coils in the roots of renewal

the pure flower of returning.

 

Although

we are tired to the evanescent

star that

bears the inscription of our mortal name,

stones of the pathway do more than listen.

Our footsteps rekindle beyond time’s door.

 

In your mornings,

hasten to kiss the earth.

Tell her the dress she wears

was always your favorite.

To the transient lover,

all lives are in favor.

 

Recall the robin, the evergreen moon;

a still, standing heron, some dust

bathing sparrows.

 

For the gift of attention,

they will lend you their feathers.

Moon’s are the lightest,

her fragrance like manna.

 

You have not always been

the best of her children.

Yet earth

has been tasted, now

and forever.

 

Honoring & Centering - B

 

INVOCATION

 

Ni-Shaat: The White Sided Dolphin and the Sea Lion

the Orca and the bubble netting Whale

Herring, Gulls and water flying Murre

the Salmon and the Grizzly Bear

 

Great Spirit of Life

Great Force of Creation

we thank You for the bestowing of such abundance

for the gifting of so much beauty

for the depth, intimacy and power in wisdom

of the living grandeur of this Pacific Northwest:

of land, waterways, mountains, skies, and ocean.

 

Guide us in the making of choices

neither from self-love alone or disappointment

but as part of all

living among the living to choose

in ways that are true for the Heart of the Earth

and the whole

of all relations.

 

Taya: If you receive the basket

handed you by the angel

called Dawn,

you will become a beam

of the upward sun.

If you enter this cornucopia

of creation’s multitude,

divested of your ego’s edges,

you will emerge

as apple or as orange.

 

Why not, with the taster’s mouth,

be of the tasted fruit?

 

As the eagle flies,

so is the heart for flying.

The soul

for living its dreams.

 

Why not, with the hunter’s talon,

be of the hunted quarry?

 

And within the pathetic network

of all living beings,

be as one

with the spider’s threads.

 

Honoring & Centering (Mirror) - C

 

Ni-Shaat: My name is Ni-Shaat.  This is my homeland.  It has been the home of my parents and my mother’s mothers and my father’s fathers for uncounted generations.

 

This is our land, but we do not own it.  All that is here, we share with our many relations in the full circle of life: with the winged people who travel the sky, with the people of the moving waters, with the four legged and with the many clans and tribes of two legged.  All of us, the many walks, are part of what is.  No one people possess creation.  But each is responsible to live in a right way and help to maintain balance.

 

I know these things and know, too, that the laws of nature are good laws.  The mystery is filled with motion and the constancy of change.  There are many, many cycles in the great circle of life.

 

This is Taya, a woman of the Earth.  And I am Ni-Shaat.

  

End.

 

*Honoring the Directions and Centering in the Dan Tien A:  The two women center their bodies, feet approximately 12 inches apart and with sufficient space between then that if they were standing on the same plane their fingers would be approximate but not actually touching.  With Ni-Shaat and Taya the space between them was between six and seven feet; Ni-Shaat beginning two paces further downstage than Taya.

 

(After the Invocation, Taya moved into a position directly across from Ni-Shaat.  After the mirroring of Honoring & Centering C, Taya assumed stillness and Ni-Shaat crossed and stepped further downstage to open an enhanced intimacy with the audience.)

 

Throughout the performers movements are to be tightly synchronized and begin by slowly raising the left hand to a position before and slightly above the heart and holding momentarily to gaze into the cupped palm.  Now the movement unfolds in this manner: Eyes follow the left hand as the arm gracefully extends to its lengthy with upturned palm  open, fingers slightly extended, making offering. Then a delicate pull happens at the tips of the fingers, swaying the body gently but visibly to the left.  Bringing the body back to center position, left palm turns downward as the left arm slowly descends to the side, hand folded in slightly to create the impression of a partial circle.  Pattern repeats with the right hand.

 

Next both hands come up before the heart, fingertips barely meeting, forming the apex of a pyramid before both arms are extended outward to full length, palms open, fingers reaching toward the front (downstage).  Lean forward, again as if pulled ever so slightly by an invisible ribbon at the edges of the fingers.  The gesture is one of offering.  After a hold, arms raise up, arching out as they ascend, forming an open V: torso expands and lifts,  head elevates, eyes scan the space above. Arms descent slowly, hold at shoulder height,  full stretch, as if a crucifix posture, palms turned outward; slow rotation so that palms are turned toward the floor.  Slow drop of arms to both sides, hands folding in as before to form a partial circle.

 

Continuing arm motions: bend elbows, bring arms up as if a cradle, hands form gently closed fists, knuckles meeting at the solar plexus.  Right leg steps forward, as arms push out, hands open, fingers pointing upward: movement accompanying big exhalation. With a natural qi flow, return to center position.

 

Left arm glides back with torso twisting left, gentle bend in knees; leaf hand reaching back, gathering from the past (space behind); in flow mode, arm swings forward with a bowling motion, extending fully, releasing from the open palm into the future (space before.)  Left arm brought back to left side as right arm begins full movement repetition: reach back, receive, bring forward, give.

 

Body again at center, both arms will be swing three times, accompanied by slight bend in knees.  Each swing increases velocity.  On third swing, arms come up, rolling at shoulders to make a large, swooping motion, forearms rotate and hands come together in a loud clap. 

 

Arms brought back toward body, hands joining in a Buddha-prayer, resting momentarily before the place of the heart.  Next, left hand, kept flat, rises slowly over the vertically held right hand, forming a T shape where left palm meets right fingertips.  Left hand slides down before front edge of vertical right to solar plexus as right hand flattens horizontally, so that between the inward turned palms a ball is formed.  Right hand rolls over left, descending to position of Dan Tien, as left hand reverses position of palm.  Space for the ball between the hands is somewhat larger momentarily, but left hand descends with great subtlety, gently compressing the space.  Hold for count of two, then hands begin to slid in opposite directions, subtlety compressing the space between them further, until the ball is dissolved by the outward motion in opposite directions,  and the hands have come to rest at both sides.

 

End of movement for Honoring & Centering A. 

 

A third or less of this complete sequence can be used for Honoring & Centering B and the entire sequence is repeated with Honoring & Centering C as a mirror, with one performer reaching left as the other reaches right.

 

The movement portion of the performance is one of elegant grace which serves to set up and punctuate the lyric and invocative eloquence of the text.  The language of the movement portion is one of beauty, respect and relatedness.

 

MY NAME IS NI-SHAAT is from the volume THE GREEN TROUDABOUR SOURCE BOOK, Eco-Shamanic Writing for Actor Training & Performance by David Sparenberg.  


  
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David Sparenberg2010-02-26 22:21:25
Somebody please tell me why I am forever hitting the wrong keys on the keyboard and misspelling Troubadour? The book title is THE GREEN TROUBADOUR SOURCE BOOK. And yet another apology....


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