Tag: entertainers

The World is But a Stage…

The World is But a Stage…

March 1st, 2018

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII [All the world’s a stage]
William Shakespeare, 1564 – 1616

I managed to secure a job! It’s only a 10-hour per week gig but it pays well and involves co-ordinating a project called “Community Champions“, encouraging people in the community to assist and speak out against domestic violence.

I have a number of applications in for jobs with a few more hours as well, from labouring and a potential building apprenticeship to disability support work and teacher support. I find landing on the ground in a new place is a great time to open myself up to new possibilities. It’s a chance to release who you have previously been and see where the new move takes you.

With that in mind, I also followed up on a thought that often occurred to me during The Longest Walk NZ. Since you are reading this blog, it’s probably no surprise to you that I am devoting a lot of energy to constructing my life as I would like it to be, as opposed to getting trapped into a default pattern. Many of these inquiries lead to changes in internal practice rather than external circumstance. The things we believe and choose are the things that determine our direction and success.

This line of thinking led me to reimagine what I thought about actors and acting as a profession. Choosing to be a professional actor, like any professional artist, is a long shot. Success is determined as much by good luck as by good management. Or at least that’s how it can seem on the surface. The reality may be different. All actors (or at least those not riding on someone else’s coat tails) face the same odds. Yet some of them convert those odds into a career. You could argue that talent plays a part in this, but I bet if you asked the successful ones, they’d say choices were far more important.

A good actor has to persevere not only in their belief that they can make it in the face of harsh and repeated rejection, but they also have to persevere in honing their craft. The former challenge is tough enough and the vast majority of people will never know such self-belief. Although that is admirable in itself, the latter task is what interests me. In order to be a good actor, one has to successfully portray a depth of character that cannot exist unless it is felt and experienced.

The actors you know from big movies are ALL good actors. Even the bad ones are only bad by comparison to a handful of elite performers. If they can’t convince an audience, they linger in the realms of pornography, bad theatre, infomercials and B movies.

The way I see it, the difference must occur at a very deep level. It must necessitate the removal, or stepping aside, of a person’s reflexive behaviours and image of self. It requires a person to strip themselves back to the basics of the human experience before layering on a whole new person. Someone with a different history, different beliefs, difference behaviours and a different perspective on life. To me, this seems like great practise for exactly the type of internal work I want to devote my energies to.

I’m not interested in fame. Not in the slightest. I had a brief taste of that last year and you can keep it, thank you very much. Money only interests me to the extent that it can invoke freedom. But the practice of confronting fears, insecurities and self-doubt as well as the actual business of re-inventing an experience of “self”… those things compel me to give it a nudge. In fact, I believe it is precisely because we see how people have accepted these challenges and excelled that drive the phenomenon of fame.

By separating others as “celebrities” from the common man/woman, we unconsciously forgive ourselves for not having risen to our own challenges. They can do it because they are “talented” or “special”. They are different or “other” when compared to us. Logically, we know it not to be true if we think about it. They are also just people after all. But if we think about it to that degree, our excuses dissolve. The difference in those who succeed (at anything) is what beliefs they choose to hold.

the road to addams
And this is how THAT happened…

So when I saw the local drama society, I enquired about it on Facebook. That led to mention of a play having auditions. The men they’d had at auditions hadn’t fitted and ‘Would I like to try out?’… ‘Oh, and by the way, it’s the role as the male lead in a musical production of The Addams Family that we need to fill’. Gulp. Oh well. Sink or swim, I guess. Caution to the wind, I decided to give it a go with the attitude that the very worst that could happen is I get experience of what an audition is like.

The audition was… well… terrifying. Standing alone on stage, I had to belt out my most convincing attempt at one of the songs in the play. Unaccompanied. Just a handful of people staring up at me in serious appraisal. Scrutinising my performance and deciding whether I had what they needed in the role: A lead role with a whole heap of lines, a couple of solo songs to sing and several more in co-operation with others. In a production that, while it is no Broadway acting company, is intended to polish up as a piece of quality theatre.

Did I mention that they want their lead to be very Spanish? Next up came a cold reading with a Spanish accent at a Spanish pace. I was in WAY over my head, but I’d already confessed as much to the production crew and they were all really supportive. And I must’ve sold it because I got the part. I will be stripping away Stephen and learning to become Gomez Addams for the next few months for a stage show in Greymouth.

After that, I decided to swing by the local pub on the way home. I came in for a celebratory/wind-down beer and left with a job. Not even sure how that happened, to be honest. But the Wild Food Festival is in town in a couple of weeks and they needed a hand. So I shall be putting my barman hat on once again. Quite a week. But the next few will likely prove to be more eventful still.

Defining Freedom

Dare to Seek Freedom the name I chose for this blog. But what is FREEDOM? Merriam Webster online dictionary defines it like this:

What does freedom mean to you?

Note that there are a few options. Among the options are a number of subjective words which reflect the individual nature of its true meaning. The take home message being that it is something that is completely dependent on relative perspective and perception.

When I speak of freedom, I guess I’m talking mostly about meanings a) and b). Specifically I refer to liberation from the social structure which is imposed on all societies I have been part of and the perceived need to earn money and consume product: the phenomenon of these factors taking a central role in the use of our time, our behaviours and our psyche.

What does freedom mean to you? What needs do you have that need to be met in order to consider yourself free?

Most of this blog focusses on things that are happening: events, actions, experiences. By far the most important are the experiences because they comprise thoughts and perceptions. This is becoming clearer and clearer on an experiential level for me. Logically, it’s been clear for a long time, but as the perceived barriers to freedom become less important, it becomes more apparent that freedom is as the definition says: a “STATE of being”.

States being both consciously and unconsciously controlled psychological modes, they are essentially choices… independent of (although often influenced by) environment or situations. They are reflexive reactions or conscious responses that tend to become habitual. Freedom too, is a choice about how we feel towards situations and actions we undertake.

The message is universal among different religious texts, spiritual writings, psychological works and self-help books: that experience is a function of personal belief/perception rather than an inevitable, inflexible cause-and-effect relationship. Beliefs shape reality.

More studies than I care to look up show similar physical adaptation or performance improvement using psychological rehearsal of skills as were seen in participants who physically performed the same exercises. It is the foundation for the effectiveness of psychological tools such as neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and hypnosis. One such program (“Positivity”, by Paul McKenna) quotes Henry Ford as saying “whether you think you can do something or whether you think you can’t, you’re usually right” and cites the fact that within a year of Roger Bannister first breaking the four-minute-mile ceiling, thirty-seven others did too. The best-selling book/DVD “The Secret” talks of it in the form of the law of attraction. Louise Hay speaks of it in her work “You Can Heal Your Life”. Neurologists are finding that our brains actually physically change according to which thoughts we habitually choose: strengthening links allowing our favoured responses and actually removing links for responses we choose infrequently. The Bible, Bhagavad Gita and Buddhist teachers are only a few of the religious sources we have implying that it is the belief/intention behind an action/situation which shapes our experience of it. Entrepreneurial guides, managerial manuals, social anthropology, confidence boosters… The list goes on.

This post comes about because I’ve managed to build a situation where I have minimal expenses, don’t necessarily NEED to work right now (although inevitably will need to soon if I choose not to) and the work I choose to do may not pay well, but is enjoyable. There most definitely is an “absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”, yet I am not free.

Far from it. In fact, the further down this rabbit hole I travel, the more I notice that the obstacles are insubstantial and in fact non-existent. Except that they still create barriers. While I meet them head-on and am fully prepared to do battle with these mental hindrances, they continue their evasion. Perhaps that view of opposition is in fact part of the cause.

Recently, I’ve found the use of communication as a metaphor for life perception quite useful. While I almost never use it, I thought I understood Non-Violent Communication. Turns out, on listening to Marshall Rosenberg’s audio book of that name, there’s a lot still to learn. It highlights, in a slightly different way, the importance of understanding emotional needs. It’s about translating that experience into words and actions with a view to meeting those needs. Our internal perception of the world can be viewed in much the same way, as our perception reflects feelings of how we feel our needs are being met or not.

So what are your emotional needs? How do your emotions drive your perception of the world? … of people? … of your situation? … of freedom? What actions can you take (or influence others to take) that could make you more free?

For me, it will ultimately come down to overcoming fear. With that in mind, I want to share an inspirational video by a guy whose channel I follow: Prince EA

While you are there, check out a few of his other videos. He’s a lesson in being open and honest with ourselves.


January 31st – February 12th 2016

Didn’t have a shower for a week. What I HAVE done is: reconnected with nature; bathed in some of our country’s most wonderful beaches and rivers; taken the dogs on at least one off-lead walk every day (sometimes whole days exploring new places); marvelled at some of the most untouched parts of this land we call home; and been given new faith in people. Welcome to New Zealand’s East Cape.

This was a holiday, pure and simple. Not the search for freedom this blog is about, but freedom nonetheless. With wars and poverty constantly overshadowing so many lives, it’s important to take a moment to remember that.

Did a tiny little Work Away placement for a few days, but mostly just relaxing on beaches. No mobile reception. No internet. And my solar panels weren’t really getting enough charge to the caravan battery after depleting it nearly completely in Whakatane. Pretty lo-fi. Bliss. Turns out it was perfectly timed over two long weekends (Auckland Anniversary Day and Waitangi Day) so I guess that’s as good an excuse as any.

First up: a happy place. Up there with the areas surrounding Whangarei, the areas surrounding Whakatane took my heart. If you ever get the chance, the drive from Ohope to Opotiki is one to be savoured. Beginning with the beautiful town of Ohope and its spectacular beach, you’re then treated to alternating scenic coastline and forest parklands. That’s just the beginning….

After Opotiki, you’re launched back into the past as you traverse the coastal clifftops and bays. Looking out over a deep blue ocean, the roads are bordered by a rugged mountain range as wild as any you will see in the country. You pass through small towns and as marae after marae go by the side windows, you are reminded that this land was peopled long before colonial “civilisation” came to it. Out East, it is still very much predominantly Maori.

Our first destination was to be the camping ground at Maraehako. Unfortunately, despite the picturesque setting and my desire to set up camp, the “No Dogs Allowed. Sorry” sign meant a slight change in plans. Even more unfortunately, we’d just passed an amazing Free Camping spot in a bay just outside of Te Kaha. However, it was far enough back that we weren’t about to backtrack, so it was on to Waihau Bay.

Average. That pretty much sums it up for me. To be fair, it’s really more of a fishing boat launch kind of bay and for that it seemed great. In fact, there was a fishing competition on that day and some of the catches were pretty impressive. Being a vegetarian, I wasn’t really in it for the fishing. There was a place allowing caravans though as well as a restaurant/bar and as it happens, the filming locations for the movie “Boy”. It served its purpose. Given the chance to do it over though, I’d definitely stop at the bay by Omaio/Te Kaha.

The next day was a similarly impressive time warp of a drive through rural towns and breath-taking views out from the clifftops. In particular, Lottin Point had a wee spot I’d have liked to head down to, but I didn’t back the Tauraus and the trailer to suffer the road, so we just carried on right through and past Hick’s Bay and WAAAAY out East. Nearly as East as is possible to go on land. The reward was priceless.

The East Cape Campground (fee charged by ‘honesty box’, which I love) was one of the most serene places I’ve ever been. All you will hear out there is the constant roar of the Pacific Ocean rolling in to the shore of a long stretch of sandy beach punctuated by the occasional mooing of a local cow. By chance, the new local cop, Jason was doing his rounds just in time to help me pop up the camper walls and have a short yarn about camping and rural policing before leaving me and the pups to enjoy the whole place to ourselves before a few others arrived later on.

Enjoying the East Cape Campground

Ended up staying out there for another day and night just to enjoy the peace and quiet. Whipped out my copy of “A Field Guide to Native Edible Plants of New Zealand” (Andrew Crowe) (link to book in Fishpond.co.nz) for the first time and started taking baby steps toward paying closer attention to the living world around me. To be honest, I failed miserably at identifying much, but I did find some Beach Spinach  (link to info)-> pretty tasty actually- to try with dinner and roasted up some Native Scorzonera root (link to a similar plan root)  -> disgusting. Don’t bother- to have with breakfast. While I was at it I had a scrounge around for some Plantain, which I had recently learned was a super cure for mosquito and sand fly bite itchiness as well as for bee sting pain. Little things like that may one day add up to really understanding nature and working with what she provides. Little random side note: although I’m not overjoyed to be reintroduced to sand flies, (and maybe it’s just me) but I find I feel their bite WHILE they bite whereas, I usually only feel mosquito bites after they’ve finished. Bad luck for the sand flies.

East Cape Lighthouse- (Nearly) The most eastern point in New Zealand and the first place to see the new day as the sun rises

Next was the obligatory stop off at the East Cape lighthouse. It’s a nice view and a good walk… up several hundred stairs but I didn’t feel like hanging around for long. The drive along the south side of the cape was a lot of farm land and winding roads. Nice too, but I just kinda ploughed through until the first camping opportunity I felt like taking. That was Waipiro Bay. Along the coast in the Gisborne District Council area, there is apparently a permit system for ‘free’ camping… of which I was not aware until after travelling all the way down the hill to the beach. Luckily the council office was right at the top of that hill in Te Puia Springs, so it wasn’t that bad. But save yourself the hassle and get yours online at their website. To be honest, if your conscience allows, you could easily just not get one. No one was checking. Great spot. Waipiro Bay was a quiet and relaxed beach far from any real settlements which has a local dog in attendance throughout most days (“Miss Pitty” to me). Very friendly girl, who got along really well with my dogs and a great ambassador for bull breed dogs everywhere.

Piccolo checking out the beach with his friend “Miss Pitty” at Waipiro Bay

As we passed the next few freedom camping sites, I decided to keep going. Nice places, but just a little too close to major roads/towns for my current feeling (and my dogs’ safety). Tolaga Bay was a nice surprise. We stopped at the Kaiaua Bay camp site which was also nice. Great view across the bay at Tolaga Bay’s famous pier. It is indeed a very long pier.

Photo Credit: http://www.discover-the-world.co.uk

The highlight for me was the really friendly local attitude toward me as a visitor. Now this is significant. There are a few places in New Zealand, which seem to have developed a reputation for local Maori being hostile to visitors and white visitors in particular. The East Cape is one of these. For what my two cents is worth, I’d just like to put it out there that this was the absolute OPPOSITE of what I experienced on my trip. Tolaga Bay especially, was one of the most welcoming communities, I’ve come across. The local pub’s Friday night entertainment, a bilingual jazz band called ‘Wakakura’ (link to their Facebook) was also a treat. I went to bed feeling optimistic about the world and people in Tolaga Bay- and it wasn’t the beers I had either, as I only had two 😉

Gisborne was a WWOOF at a rural “Cattery”. I was under the impression I was going to a cat boarding facility. I was wrong. Turns out this was a cat (Bengals and Maine Coons) “breeding” operation also “breeding” working dogs (Bearded Collies). As many of those who will read this know, I come from an animal welfare/shelter background, at which a fairly high proportion of animals arrive in some part due to irresponsible breeding practices (although there are many, a good yard stick would be whether a breeder has buyers for the kittens or dogs BEFORE breeding the animals- a responsible breeder does). I put “breeding” in quotation marks because I think of it more as animal “pimping”. I wasn’t particularly impressed. However, my hosts were nice and I decided to give it a try since I was there anyway. To cut a long story short, I courteously enjoyed my hosts’ hospitality, completed my WWOOF jobs and took what I could from the experience. This included lessons on how to milk, dress and butcher a goat. I also took the opportunity to watch DVDs about a currently popular school of thought on working/herding dog training that they happened to have on hand at home. Ultimately though, I felt it best to leave as soon as I could find another placement, more suited to my interests. So that’s what I did.

On the way to my next placement, it seemed a waste not to use the last couple of days on the freedom camping pass. So, off the dogs and I went to Donneraille Park. What an awesome decision! This place is about halfway between Gisborne and Wairoa and it is magical. After dropping off the main state highway at the top of a hill, you descend into a river valley with sheer white cliff faces and dusty gravel roads. Two days were filled with near silence and bathing in surprisingly warm river waters. The one downer was that I realised that “Yes, my caravan battery IS stuffed”. (Le sigh). Turns out if you let a car battery run dead, it can’t be revived (or at least I don’t know how- please get in touch if you have any tips). Still, that wasn’t gonna get me down. A relaxing wind down period, well enjoyed.

At Wairoa, although I was only passing through, it was striking how pleasant the atmosphere was. It’s a nice little spot. Well worth a visit if you like that small town vibe. In fact, it may be a place to return to when I have a little more time. For now though, I bought some lunch, a new 12V battery for the caravan and a new a ukulele. And now on to Turangi, to experience one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had of life and how it can be.