For My Daughter 

When Isabel M. Jones interviewed me for her artist blog, she mentioned  the theme was “hope.” I thought the topic extremely relevant and unfortunately rare. Once I read through her questions, one rang especially rare to me. I wish I were asked the question more. I happen to be very proud to be an artist mom. I  grew up in an artist household. I find my art and my love for my children pour from the same place. I hope for many things for my children. And here, Isabel asked a key question about it – and here’s the answer that poured out:

What do you hope your daughter will learn by watching you pursue acting?

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My daughter found my dance shoes and just started ballet, so she taught me a class at home.

My daughter is incredibly perceptive. Two year olds are such incredible vessels of deep thought and feeling, mind and heart unseparated, that I honestly have learned more from her in regard to acting and how to express the truth of what my character is thinking or feeling or wanting. Toddlers have such assurance and lack of apology that spending time with my
daughter makes me bold.
There’s a courage to her joy and sorrow that I find powerful. In terms of what I hope she learns from watching me pursue my craft:

I hope she learns joy that comes from devotion to a life long discipline, whatever that may be for her.

That rejection from others has no connection to her inherent value.

That critics are meant to make us think, not make us doubt.

That making beautiful things is a valid social contribution.

That empathy and storytelling are effective ways to explore solutions and expand compassion.

That in real life some people do break out randomly into song and dance.

That telling the truth about what she feels and thinks, even when standing alone in the spotlight, should be lauded – whether on a stage or not.

That we are witnesses and contributors to each others stories, and how we engage with that truth matters.

That some professions require ten times the effort for success than others, but may be worth it.

That you can try every time and still not succeed every time, but failure is a part of a healthy process and work is the pursuit.

That I will support whatever she aspires to do. Always.

That is all equally true for my four month old son as well.


Read the full interview here:

Part 1 and Part 2

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Beckett-Inspired Meisner Scene Study – Toddler Theater.

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Toddler Theater is a true record of spontaneous dialogue meant for the free theatrical study for daily lives of characters in various forms. All text is copyright for educational use and comes out of nowhere.

Toddler Theater Presents:

Scene 1: Beckett-Inspired Meisner* Scene Study
Performed by RS & EG Hewitt

While walking. Character A spots something in the distance. They stop. Character B responds with a stop of his/her own. They look. They alternate speech lines. Suddenly, Character A:

What’s that? (points)

What? (looks)

That.

What? (scans horizon)

That. What’s that?

What’s what?

That.

That?

That.

That.

No that.

That.

No.

That?

That.

Oh, that?

That.

That.

THAT.

Oh, that?

That.

That’s a digger truck, remember? Dig, dig, dig! (arm demonstrates)

Dig, dig, dig. (copies arm)

Dig, dig, dig.

Dig, dig.

Yes.

What’s that?

That?

That.

A light. Lamp post.

A Yight. Lamp post.

“Light.”

Oh “Light.”

Light.

“Lamp post.”

Lamp post, yes. Good remembering!

Good remembering! Yeah! Awesome!

Awesome!

Awesome!

Awesome!

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Wild scream. RUNS.)

Character A erupts without warning into breakneck speed forward, uninhibited. The joy is something beyond the natural. Character B abruptly responds with matching speed to catch up out of primal need to keep Character A alive.  Danger could be ahead. Possibly discovery. They cannot be separated.

End scene.


 *For more information and background in either the Meisner Technique or Samuel Beckett, click their names in this line.

Contribute your own toddler-, infant- or child-original-generated scenes in any style or structure by commenting below. May be subject to republication with full credit given to contributor.

 

 

What She Looks Like: Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Vancouver BC

I’ve appreciated my candid online chats with Jessica immensely. Thanks to Facebook and other social media platforms, I’ve had the advantage of hearing from moms cross-continent, including Jessica in Vancouver.

Her story excited me because she openly shared with me how she took a break for 20 years working as a lawyer. Her bravery and artistry to dive back in now is an exciting tale of going for it, and I love how she opened up to me from the get-go:

There are so many “mommy blogs” but I don’t know of many people writing about parenting and making art. I’ve just gone back to my theatre career after nearly 20 years as a lawyer. I made a big career change and we moved from New York to Vancouver. Now that my kids are all in school (my youngest is in kindergarten and my oldest is in high school with one also in grade 4) I have a certain amount of flexibility that’s different from when I had babies, but it’s still a crazy juggling act. And [I’m the] only person in my company who had kids, so lovely as they are about it, they don’t necessarily really get it.

Jessica Mann Gutteridge

This first message reminded me why it was so important to keep writing and keep building a community. As lovely as supportive artists or family members can be, only moms making art and doing it together can really get it. So here is Jessica’s profile and some of my favorite quotes from her below. She’s creating and involving her kids and others in her art and shines a bright light on trusting instincts.


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Jessica Mann Gutteridge: Education Manager at Carousel Theater for Young People; Lawyer; Mom.

Status: I have three sons, ages 14, nearly 10, and 5.

What surprised you: I was surprised when I turned out to be a relatively relaxed, intuitive parent. I grew up with a somewhat anxious parenting style, and I thought for sure I would be similar. I also spent nearly 20 years as a lawyer before I returned to my theatre career, and being in a risk-averse sort of profession, I assumed that would extend to my parenting too. But it turns out I found it a lot easier to learn to trust my instincts (and my husband’s) and go with the flow with the kids, and I think that’s been good for all of us.

What excited you: What hasn’t excited me? What’s really enjoyable about seeing my kids progress through childhood is that as they get older their observations and problems get more and more interesting.

What challenged you: Balancing work life and parenting life. Not just in the obvious way, in trying to fulfill commitments in both places with only 24 hours in the day, but also in terms of being able to switch gears from one mindset to another. It was hard not to carry my latest fight with an adversary home with me, or help my clients with a problem without sounding like I was their mother. I also always worried I wasn’t doing either role terribly well. Learning to accept that “good enough” is good enough is probably the best thing I’ve ever learned as a professional or as a parent.

What you look forward to: Having three independent, competent, happy young men go forth into life. And getting a little time back for myself as a result!

What you think people should know: Life is not Pinterest! You’re not in competition with anyone to make your life look a certain way. You have to raise your family and pursue your art and career with integrity, not in order to check off some boxes or get a great Instagram out of it. When you let go of that external pressure, it’s amazing how liberating it feels.

Your favorite mommy-artist story: I work with a theatre for young audiences, and my kids have become the company’s kids in certain ways. It was exceptionally wonderful to have my youngest fall madly in love with our recent production of Go, Dog. Go! He became sort of the company groupie — he saw it four times, memorized the show, and got to know all the performers. They autographed his copy of the book and we acquired one of the gorgeous props for him to keep. Basically, it was his version of Rocky Horror! It was just so gratifying for me to be able to share our work with my child like that, and to have my child become a friend of the company.


 

My favorite quotes:

“‘What excited you: What hasn’t excited me?”

– Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Education Manager

“Learning to accept that ‘good enough’ is good enough is probably the best thing I’ve ever learned as a professional or as a parent.”

– Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Education Manager

“Life is not Pinterest! You’re not in competition with anyone to make your life look a certain way.”

– Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Education Manager

“You have to raise your family and pursue your art and career with integrity, not in order to check off some boxes or get a great Instagram out of it. When you let go of that external pressure, it’s amazing how liberating it feels.”

– Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Education Manager

“It was just so gratifying for me to be able to share our work with my child like that, and to have my child become a friend of the company.”

– Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Education Manager


How inspiring to hear her timing, story, and intuitive approach. I love this girl. What are your biggest challenges and fears? And what are you waiting for? I hope we can all keep remembering to let go of that “external pressure” and keep letting life in. It’s the artist way anyway. How much better will our kids be for it, too?

More profiles coming soon!

If you are or you know a performing artist professional and mom who wants to share thoughts, answer these questions and shoot them to me at this contact form!