As a young actor, I grew up hearing “all the world’s a stage.” The quote comes from Shakespeare, but it gets thrown around pretty casually. Recently I’ve been thinking, if the world is the stage then what does that make me? One of its players? Or just a voyeur?
As I thought about this assignment over the last week, I paid careful attention to when I was a player, and when I was a voyeur. Often I would see things happening around me and not stop to change them– either because I was in a rush or I was scared I would be stepping out of line. Below are some examples.
Take Out Tragedy
Here is a take out bag I picked up on Sunday night. Not only was it filled with extraneous plastic cutlery and napkins, but it came with two, TWO sets up plastic bags.
Big Bus Blues
The M57 and the M31 MTA stops are right outside my apartment, but recently I’ve noticed the M31 has been idling when traffic is good to stay on schedule.
Displacement of recycled materials because there wasn’t a public recycling bin for FOUR BLOCKS. (Believe me, I looked.)
As you can see, there were a of issues I noticed in just one week, but I became frustrated with myself for not doing anything to change them, or at least educate my community about changing them. I got frustrated enough with this to work up some courage, and the payoff felt good.
This morning I was in midtown on 8th Ave between 34th and 35th streets. (Or what I like to call the armpit of Manhattan). The avenue is usually packed bumper to bumper on either side of buses, utility trucks, vans, and private cars idling. So I said something… to four cars! And they all turned off their engines!!! It was easy. Here is a picture of some of them.
I even recorded an audio clip of asking one of them to turn off their engine, which they did immediately without any protest.
It felt pretty empowering to use my rights as a citizen, and has encouraged me to remain as active a player as I can. We really do have the power to change things.
If the Earth is our stage, then we’ve got some major “playing” to do.
Thanks to Nina Hitchings (River Project’s Wetlab Manager and Head of Interns) we learned a little about the waters of the Hudson River and some of the surprising forms of life which it supports. While we could have learned a lot more, this was a first visit for all of us but for some, not the last. Knowing that the Billion Oyster Project is nearby, that world-famous Striped Bass have returned along with onerous-sounding, visually challenging Oyster Toadfish, delicate Pipefish (and their close relation, the seahorse), as part of the 200 different types of fish that make the Hudson River their home, gave us new appreciation and insight into the long-term positive effects afforded by the Clean Water Act of 1972.
“POWAQQATSI‘s overall focus is on natives of the Third World — the emerging, land-based cultures of Asia, India, Africa, the Middle East and South America — and how they express themselves through work and traditions. What it has to say about these cultures is an eyeful and then some, sculpted to allow for varied interpretations.
Where KOYAANISQATSI dealt with the imbalance between nature and modern society, POWAQQATSI is a celebration of the human-scale endeavor the craftsmanship, spiritual worship, labor and creativity that defines a particular culture. It’s also a celebration of rareness — the delicate beauty in the eyes of an Indian child, the richness of a tapestry woven in Kathmandu — and yet an observation of how these societies move to a universal drumbeat.
POWAQQATSI is also about contrasting ways of life, and in part how the lure of mechanization and technology and the growth of mega-cities are having a negative effect on small-scale cultures.
The title POWAQQATSI is a Hopi Indian conjunctive — the word Powaqa, I which refers to a negative sorcerer who lives at the expense of others, and Qatsi –i.e., life.
Several of “POWAQQATSI’s” images point to a certain lethargy affecting its city dwellers. They could be the same faces we saw in the smaller villages but they seem numbed; their eyes reflect caution, uncertainty.
And yet POWAQQATSI, says Reggio, is not a film about what should or shouldn’t be. “It’s an impression, an examination of how life is changing”, he explains. “That’s all it is. There is good and there is bad. What we sought to capture is our unanimity as a global culture. Most of us tend to forget about this, caught up as we are in our separate trajectories. It was fascinating to blend these different existences together in one film.”
To be certain, POWAQQATSI is a record of diversity and transformation, of cultures dying and prospering, of industry for its own sake and the fruits of individual labor, presented as an integrated human symphony — and with Philip Glass’ score providing the counterpart, performed with native, classical and electronic instruments, its tribal rhythms fused by a single majesterial theme.”
QATSI trilogy at NYU Bobst
Making Movies That Matter: Student Project – AMERICAN OUTRAGE