Blogs by Bahais

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Reading Purrfection

Stumbling Through the Past

Cat lying on verandah balustrade. In foreground is book, notebook, pen and bookmark Our cat Whispy, keeping me company while I sit on the verandah reading.

It has been glorious weather in Sydney albeit unseasonably warm and dry. I have been enjoying sitting outside and reading. The photo above sums up my ideal reading environment – a good book, bookmark, reading journal, pen and a cat.

Where would we be without good books? I am struggling to imagine my life without regular reading. Even during my reading drought during university and my early twenties (reading economics and accounting text books does not count!), I loved reading the weekend newspapers with their long book reviews, travel pieces and articles giving rich background to the news. That has largely gone now, replaced by websites. I snuggle up to my tablet for weekend news reading but it is not quite the same.

I don’t review anywhere near the number of books I read. Among the books…

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The Creative Mind

Stumbling Through the Past

One gumtree profiled against a backdrop of a grassy park with mist rising off it. The sun is shining on the mist. One morning I woke up, rubbed my eyes and ran for my camera. This is what I saw from my bedroom window.

Ever since I was a teenager I have believed in trying to learn something before going to sleep. The evening study period has always been a productive time for me, even if I have not succeeded in the learning I have set myself. I close my notes, read an enjoyable book and then go to sleep. On waking in the morning I consult my notes again and often found that I have remembered more than I thought I had or I have worked out the problem that was out of reach the night before.

Rest is very important for the mind. The subconscious does some magical things when the mind is given some rest. We are at our most unproductive when we try to work excessive hours. Our productivity…

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The Last Lesson

This article is from Ingrid Johnson’s Blog

The Two Stringed Ukulele

ukulele)

Scelera – Creative Commons Flickr

Scelera image link

 It was only a few weeks ago that I was walking through school and some girls from my drama class ran up to me.

“This afternoon is our last class with you, isn’t it Miss?”
“Yes sweetie, it is.”
“We have a surprise for you!”

“Oh God,” I thought as they hurried away giggling.
“They’re going to prank me again…”

This class in particular had earned themselves quite a track record in this respect.

But they didn’t! Not this time.
They bought me a card.
Adorable, right?

Let us take a brief moment to acknowledge this. A bunch of 13 year olds, who most of the time couldn’t remember to bring a pencil with them to class, had actually gone out, found a card, written inside of it and brought it all the way to their last lesson with me.

And okay, this may not sound like the hugest of deals…
But it meant a lot to me. 🙂

So I had thought that was the surprise, and maybe even they thought it was, but by no means was it the most precious thing they gave to me that day.

I told them that because it was our last lesson, I wanted them to think back over our year together and choose some of their favourite drama games to play!
You know, for the last time.
They were quiet for a moment (which is always suspicious), before one girl put up her hand (also suspicious) and asked me,
“Miss, do you remember the first game we ever played?”
I didn’t. So she reminded me.

The game was called Pukanah.
I remember playing it in our very first drama class thinking that all the rowdy Maori chanting, clapping and stamping would get us energised and be a fun way to break the ice!
Instead, what I ended up with was a roomful of nervous 13 year olds, clapping awkwardly and BEGGING me to choose another game.

So we didn’t do it again.
I’d just figured it wasn’t their thing.
But now they wanted to play!
So that’s exactly what we did.
But this time was different!

They stamped,
They chanted,
And they sang!
They sang LOUD!

So much so, that as soon as we’d stopped I gathered them around to tell them all how incredibly proud of them I was. But one of them interrupted me.

“Miss Johnson! Do you remember what happened the first time we played that game?
We were all so nervous and shy…
And we all just kinda stood around looking awkward!”

Everyone started giggling and nodding at the memory.

“But Miss! Did you see us just now!”
“We’re totally confident!”

Then they were all talking…
And telling me things.
Things like much more confident they felt,
How happy they were,
And how much they loved me.

So I listened and I let them,
Because I loved them too.

But here’s the thing…
They could tell me all about how much I had taught them,
But by no means were they the only students in the room.

The fact is that for the 7 months I’d been at that school, I didn’t always know what I was doing.
And let’s be honest, I still don’t!
But there are a couple of things I’ve figured out.

Just one, simply, is that there is one thing you see a lot of when you’re a teacher,
And that’s beauty.

It doesn’t always look the same,
And sometimes you don’t understand it until much later.
But it’s there, in front of you.
All the time.

Sometimes it looks like a hand in the air,
As the ‘quiet one’ in the room begins asking questions.
Sometimes it looks like a student copying the notes down twice,
So her friend with a sore finger won’t fall behind.
Sometimes it looks like a ‘thank-you’,
A held door, a smile,
Or an emotional group selfie.

But it’s there,
Everywhere.
You just have to look.

And so here’s my resolution,
As late as it is!
That no matter how far I wander,
Or where I end up,
And regardless of how time and trials changes me,
I will always remember this lesson.

And I will never stop looking.


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Writers New to Blogging – Handy Tips 1#

Pearlz Dreaming

66721_10200935342158713_681096474_n Photo by Ivanneth, Creative Commons

Ivanneth Creative Commons

So you’re a writer and have started a blog because everyone has told you to do so. Now you’re wondering how to go about it.

1) Pick your theme. With themes it’s a good idea to check what they look like on phone and tablet as well, as some themes translate better across devices and people may read your work on their tablet rather than laptop or pc. Personally I like clear uncluttered layouts. The theme used on this blog at the moment is sketch.

2) Choose interesting and related topics. 1)How you researched or created your book (really interesting for historical books) 2)Typical days in your writing life 3) Interview with a character or expert in your field 4) Interviews or reviews of works in your genre that you admire 5) Great news you want to share (be humble though). I…

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The New Century is Found

Ripple Poetry

poetrycape3 Art by ZedettaArt – song lyric in cut out shape

Star Song

The new century promises
the eternity of song

holding binoculars
in every mood.

a bunch of flitting fireflies
liveth here.

A telescope can show you
songs I’ve heard.

Beyond the asteroid  belt
lie songs like grass.

The giver said
to be a backyard sky watcher
simply go outdoors
and look up to
see creation’s music.

Come and see the road map
locate the Southern cross.

Constellations can be
bright and easy to find
melodies of earth and sky.

Crowds and cities pass away
in journeys from star to star.

(c) June Perkins

 

Today I created a found poem,  using some of the Jigsaw poem technique.  With the Jigsaw poem Sidman uses a found poem and reshapes the poem.

With the found poem any document that is not a poem is used to construct a poem.  It…

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Ducky, light bulbs and having fun with the pictorial fonts

This post is part of a series on seeking poetry type challenges.  It’s about extending in the craft.

Ripple Poetry

2012-08-02 2012-08-02 001 043 One of my true love’s nicknames is ‘Ducky’

So today I am attempting an ideaogram.  I didn’t want to do the Sidman exercise just as it was suggested  because I have written a poem like that before, so instead I came up with a variation on her exercise.

For this one I went looking for some further inspiration and found some in googling images.  It seemed obvious one way to write something like this might be to play with the ideogrammatic fonts on my computer.  But how to play with them?  I used the geotype fontand the following images came up when I typed my name, june.

Light bulb, Duck, Globe or Sign and a Hand.  I thought why not use them as inspiration. That’s pretty random isn’t it, but here goes.

For ‘Ducky’

I look for my light bulb moment
Married to a man whose nickame…

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PiBoIdMo and all that jazz

Sorry may not be as many reblogs during November, but feel free to visit the sidelinks. This is because I wil be doing PiBoIdMo

Pearlz Dreaming

Photo

I’ve done Nanowrimo (that novel is stil waiting for a reboot as a young adult fantasy piece).  What an experience that was.

Those characters still call me and say,  ‘when are you going to do something about me?’

‘Sorry guys I will listen to you soon, promise, on my to do list, ‘  I reply with my fingers crossed behind my back and a pair of runners begging to be put on my feet.  Well seriously I did have a few friends reading it and they did want to know what was going to happen so one day I will get my act together.

This year I am going to participate in PiBoIdmo for the first time.  The idea of this challenge is to generate 30 ideas for picture books in 30 days.  Considering I have presently completed  only one(and it has been sent off to a publisher…

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Learning to plot – a writer’s quest

Reflecting on the creative writing process, moving forward

Pearlz Dreaming

slaughterfalls1

So I am at a virtual stand still as I realise my major writing hurdle is learning to plot. Time to build some stairs, or maybe a sledge hammer.

I recently managed to finish one picture book and send it off.  One of the things mentioned in critiques was redoing the plot line to introduce some things into the story earlier, to invest the reader in the character, clarifying aspects of the ending, and making some aspect of the plot in the middle even more believable. I reworked it, and in the end was happy with the plot line.  This picture book came from a poem that was without any sense of strong plot, mostly emotion, but the reworking required me to be very thoughtful about the plot.

Going back to the drawing board for some of the other picture books, unfinished short stories, memoirs and novel I am stumped…

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Mark Perry’s Story – Drama Circles and On a Rooftop with Bill Sears

Scene from a Dress for Mona

Mark Perry, a multiskilled theatre practitioner, educator and Baha’i has woven together his training, and Baha’i identity and values to express stories which potentially enrich, move and motivate audiences in plays like “A Dress for Mona” and “On the Rooftop.”  However, as he explains:

 I’m certainly interested in stories that are not explicitly Baha’i. No, I’m not interested in taking kitchen sink drama to its natural conclusion, but I am interested in probing how different  cultures view each other, how people negotiate this material world we’re in, how and why people have conflicted spiritual understandings or purposes, this kind of thing.   

            Mark Perry (Interview with Paul Newell, North Carolina Playwrighting group) 

At thirty-five he has already had a wealth of training and experience in the arts of theatre, acting, writing and producing.  Like many Baha’i youth, Mark Perry did a year of service and counts this a period of enlightenment and confirmation

. . . . when I went to Africa for six months on a youth service project. It really opened my eyes to the idea that where I’d come from, America, was not the end all and be all of thought. My time in the Kalari desert, encountering African Baha’is in the villages there-it was amazing.  (Interview with Paul Newell, North Carolina Playwrighting group) 

It is not surprising that in the last five years he has taken an interest in encouraging other Baha’is, especially young people, to express themselves in drama through the founding of Drama Circles. 

**

June: First of all, thanks for agreeing to this interview Mark. I have worked a bit in youth drama, I also was involved in some radio drama and wrote a play several years ago which was workshopped at a conference but did not get it fully produced.  Your site reinspired me to revisit and consider working back in the performing arts but especially to express stories with spiritual values and from the Bahai community and Bahai history and contemporary stories. 

Mark:  I’m so glad that you felt inspired by the website to venture back into drama and especially Bahá’í inspired drama.  Someday, I hope the website will be even more helpful and more inspiring, as we continue to work towards realizing the mission statement.  But one foot in front of the other…

June: What is your background in drama/theatre?  How long have you been involved with it?  What makes you passionate about it compared to other art/creative forms? 

Mark: I’m serving a life sentence in drama as far as I can tell.  As I recall, I first got bit by the theater bug at twelve when I saw my Junior High school’s production of “My Fair Lady. ” I was in awe of the phenomenon of theater, the magic that was going on in the room.  The next year I tried out for the musical, and that was that.  My mother claims that when I was six, we went to see a play and I told her “that’s what I’m going to do with my life.” I don’t remember that far back.  I’m now 35, have a B.A. in theater arts, and an MFA in playwriting.  I live in a university town in North Carolina (in the south of the United States.)  I teach playwriting part time for the university and elsewhere.  The rest of the time, I’m either writing or doing something with the Faith.  (Or goofing off, flitting from one distraction to the other, but I’m really trying to stop that.:-)  So I write and teach mostly, but I also act and direct, and by necessity produce.

June: What led to the creation of the Drama Circle concept?  Can you tell me the story of it? 

Mark: I started the Drama Circle officially in 2002 with the immediate goal of producing “A Dress for Mona” here in North Carolina.  It had been my thesis play from graduate school and had just been published, and I felt if no one else was going to produce it, I should, and so I did… with lots of help.Since then, we’ve also produced the Bill Sears play and sponsored a couple of playwriting contests.  The other big thing is the “Drama Circle”—a course that combines theater training with spiritual principles as enunciated in the Bahá’í writings. We’re working now with junior youth, and the results so far are very promising. The name “Drama Circle” most simply comes from the idea of a study circle teaching drama. The principle of the circle though is inherent in my view of this kind of work.

June: Where is the drama circle group based?  Where else have you toured to other than US and UK(?) 

Mark: The Drama Circle is based here in North Carolina, and also in cyberspace. It’s not so much a consistent company as a mission statement with me as its chief protagonist and probably its biggest obstacle as well. My wife Azadeh is my biggest supporter in this work, and I have many friends and colleagues near and far who at one time or another have been a part of the “Drama Circle.” For Mona, we had 60 people involved.  For the Bill Sears play, probably 20 or 25.  Now with the junior youth, they feel a certain ownership as well, so you see how it works.  The Bill Sears show has been performed a total of 30 times I believe in 23 different cities in the U.S.,Canada and also Dubai. Maybe one of these days, we’ll make it Australia. My wife and I were married there five years ago and it’s getting about time we returned to visit her family.  “A Dress for Mona” has been produced by a handful of other companies, all Bahá’í, including Kingfisher Theatre who toured the show to about fifteen cities in the U.S. and Canada. 

June: What other art forms have you worked in? 

Mark: As for other art forms, I have experience with music, especially in composition for theater productions. I play guitar and at one point wanted to be Eric Clapton, but eventually I gave up on that, and have been trying to concentrate my energies to entirely on Drama, and more specifically on playwriting.

June: How do the youth involved in the Youth Drama circle enjoy the concept?  How do they hear about it and get involved?  What are some of their backgrounds, cultural etc.? 

Mark: As I said, the youth seem to really enjoy the drama circle.  We live in an A cluster, and so all the kids that participate are either Baha’is or they’re kids who are invited by Baha’is.  As we go into the future and become more involved with integrating the Drama Circle concept into the junior youth programs called for by the House of Justice, my hope is that many more non-Baha’i children will be able to participate.

June: Can you tell me a bit more about where the idea to write the Bill Sears play came from?  How long did it take to write and what kind of preliminary work did you do for it? (I love God Loves Laughter and did my honours English Thesis on the Writing of Bill Sears and Spiritual Questing) 

After the production of “A Dress for Mona” in March 2003, I picked up “God Loves Laughter” and started reading and started laughing. I thought I might be able to do a short five to ten minute piece for a Baha’i meeting in June, and I did, but it continued to grow throughout the summer. By August, I had a draft ready and I read it at Green Acre Baha’i school in Eliot, Maine. I continued to work on the play throughout the Fall, at the same time arranging for production in spring 2004. The script was ready by, say, December, and so the next three or four months were dedicated to learning the part and the infinite details of a theater production. As for my process in writing it, the first thing I did was just to go through the book and pick out sections that I liked. Then I started looking for connections in my own life and a central story and themes to tie it together. I’d say up to 40 percent of the play is the words of Mr. Sears.  The rest is my language tying his story together. I’m very fond of the play, which is good as I hope to continue performing it in the years to come.

I’m working on writing two plays currently: one on the subject of Bahá’í marriage, and the other is not a specifically Bahá’í play. 

June: Can you tell me a bit more about the playwriting competition/request for submission (saw this on the site?)- how long in duration the plays should be, for how many actors (to be economical) and what kind of stories interest the group?   

Mark: That playwriting competition has been suspended for now. The thing that became apparent was that there is not a wealth of well-developed full-length scripts out there in the Bahá’í community, or if there are, we weren’t receiving them. And so, the mission is to build up the capacity and inspire people to start writing. Perhaps we will be able to have more play contests in the future. 

MARK PERRY PLAYS & PRODUCTIONS (SELECTIVE LIST)

* On the Rooftop with Bill Sears. (2003;1M) Based on the life of 1950s TV personality, William Sears.2004–Present TOURING (22 cities), arranged by Kingfisher Theatre (Nazareth, PA)2004, AprPRODUCTION, produced by The Drama Circle (Durham, NC) 

* A Dress for Mona. (2001;4F,4M) A dream leads 16 year old Mona to dedicate her life to serving humanity, but how could she know how far her resolve would be tested? (Based on a true story.) 2003, Dec      PRODUCTION, produced by One World Bahá’í Youth Workshop (Washington, DC)2003, Sep-Nov   TOUR (East Coast), produced by Kingfisher Theatre (Nazareth, PA)2003, Aug      PRODUCTION, produced by the Banani School for Girls (Zambia &Malawi)2003, Mar  PRODUCTION, produced by the Drama Circle (Durham, NC)2001, Mar      PRODUCTION, produced as part of University Gallery Series (Iowa City, IA) 

* The Donkey Play. (2001;1F,1M) A clown show based on the Biblical story of Balaam and the Ass. 2001, May PRODUCTION, produced as part of Iowa New Play Festival (Iowa City, IA)

 * House Divided. (1999;6F,6M) A brutal racial incident shakes a small New England town.    1999,May STAGED READING, as part of Iowa New Play Festival (Iowa City)

MORE REFERENCES

Interview with Mark Perry

Drama Circle Scripts 


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5 Thou Shalt Nots of the Writing Craft

Some ways to improve our writing.

Pearlz Dreaming

DSC_4537 Writing Mirror – June Perkins

Once we have beaten writer’s block, found our stories, and drafted them, then comes the intense process of editing.

This is where we put ourselves to the mirror as writers and start to notice the blemishes and strong sides of our writing.

Over time there are rules that we learn from editors, teachers, readers, bloggers and other writers that make that looking glass moment bearable.

These vary from ‘Thou Shalt not’ to ‘our writing will be stronger if we do …..’

Then there are specific formulas to poems, novels, genres within novels that gradually  become set in stone, and then are challenged by those who don’t want to follow rules but make new ones.  Before we break rules it is good to understand them, and then work out why it is we might depart from them or reinvent them.

DSC_4533 Writing Looking Glass – June Perkins

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