Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hippodrama and Dramaturgy in Perfect Harmony

At the beginning of the 2010/2011 school year I was a sophomore in DePaul University's Dramatrugy Program.  One day, during my dramaturgy class, our teacher Dr. Rachel Shteir asked us if we knew of any scenarios of dramaturgical type roles in other areas of life. Mine was as follows:

When you are showing a horse, you are concerned with three roles. You have the judge who is called in to critique and rate your performance, you have the rider who works with the horse and trains it to go through the proper commands and who directs the action of the horse, and then you have the horse itself who serves as the primary area of focus in the ring and who is asked to put on a live flawless performance. 

So if we applied this to the theatrical realm the assignment of roles is quite simple. The judge serves as the dramaturg and the critic who is looking for flaws that inhibit a performance, but many aren't just serving as a bad guy so they are also looking for ways a performance can be improved. The rider serves as a director who rehearses with their horse attempting to establish a impeccable performance. And finally the horse is the actor himself who is asked to perform a pre-established pattern or transitions. 

My Story, My Purpose

I have loved horses for as long as I can remember. Most little girls played with their Barbies, but I played with their horse counterparts. I didn't want Barbie houses or clothes, instead I wanted toy barns and saddles. Whenever I was outside, I wasn't a human,  I would transform myself into a horse and gallop around my yard all day long setting up jumps and creating make believe scenarios of being a champion racing horse. In my five year old imaginary worlds horses became the stars which goes to show that even from an early age I realized that in a created world, horses are not props. Instead, they are actors who also function to portray an important role.

As I grew up my passion for horses exploded. Everything in my life had to do with horses. My dad bought my mom a two year old colt when I was about six or seven years old. He was green broke, but that didn't phase me. When my parents would walk Sonny out in the yard and let him graze I would run out and just sit on his back enjoying the connection I could have with this powerful animal. When I was eight I got my first pony for Easter, but my equestrian life changed when I was eleven years old. That was when I got my first horse. Her barn name was Sparkie and she looked ragged and overweight when I first got her, but there was something special about this mare. When I looked into her soft brown eyes I witnessed a comfort and beauty my little eleven year old self had never experienced before. Little did I know that the day Sparkie entered my life would be the beginning of a great journey.

I don't care how cliché this sounds, but Sparkie changed my life and made me the person I am today. I grew up on this mare. We had many moments of tough love where we would butt heads and personalities, but all in all that helped us grow closer as a team. The sweat, tears, and love this mare and I poured into each other cannot be met by anything else in my life. We started out as underdogs, but by the end of our career together we had various national rankings in the International Buckskin Horse Association alongside a Reserve World Champion title. We spent every summer day together, and went to shows almost every weekend. It was during these summers that I began to realize my summer world of horses was comparable to my winter world of acting.

These worlds became interchangeable and I supplemented skills I learned on the stage in the ring and vice versa. However, when it was time for me to leave I had to chose one world because I didn't think I could have both. I chose theatre, thinking I was ready to leave my equestrian life in the past. Three years have passed since I sold Sparkie, and I now realize that being bit by the horse bug is just as bad as being bit by the acting bug. It is something you live for and when it is gone there is a gaping hole in your heart. Giving up Sparkie was like giving up a child, but like every parent I had to give up what I loved most in this world to show her how much I truly cared. I don't think it is acceptable for me to forget my past in the equestrian world, and instead I want to utilize it to shape me as an artist and an individual. This project is my attempt to accomplish this goal. Rightly so, this project is inspired and dedicated to my little brown mare, Sparkie.

"If you got a taste of what I am talking about you cant get enough of it. You can’t even eat. You may spend your whole life chasing it and that is okay because it is a good thing to chase."-Horseman Buck Brannanan

Sparkie and I getting ready to go for a quick ride at home