The Spark that Sparked My Spark
THE SPARK THAT SPARKED MY SPARK
By Leslie Blair Colket, 1991, Rochester, VT
"The experience of Le Centre du Silence ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime,and I wouldn't trade it for everything."
It's been 16 years (as I write this) since I took my first workshop with Samuel, and I still remember it vividly. David Lloyd did a back flip and Rob List walked into a wall.
It has the start of an adventure that lasted more than seven years -- seven years of hard work, lots of laughter, the thrill of performing, and the angst of growing up. The experience of Le Centre du Silence ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime, and I wouldn't trade it for everything.
I left the womb of Le Centre du Silence and went to Paris to study with Marcel Marceau. We didn't see a great deal of Marceau at the school, but it was a fascinating year with two of the finest teachers I've come across. Ironically, neither of them taught mime. One my ballet teacher taught me to stand up straight and to recognize the 'grain of follie' that lies in every true artist. The other, my drama teacher, taught me never to do anything I didn't mean, and that being myself is the most transforming experience in the world. I remember these two men--Tamiz and Cassati--every time I slouch. It was in their class--in the metamorphosis and the 'touch of madness'--that I could put my work with Samuel to the test. Here life was most challenging, beautiful, exhilarating, and dignified.
This deeper beauty and dignity is hard for most of us to get at, because we have to let go of ourselves in order to free our hearts and hands to grasp them. And we're afraid, because we think we have something to protect or hide or lose. Samuel had exposed me to myself during these years with him, starting a process of preternatural perturbation that has continued to this day. That process makes it increasingly possible for me to enjoy life really and fully.
I moved to New York, studied voice, and started working for a publisher of books on metaphysics and holistic health. The company moved from Manhattan to Rochester, Vermont, population 300, where I live. These towns lie in the White River valley, which has a community theatre that is an exemplary blend of good will, professionalism, fun, and creativity. I've played Golde in Fiddler on the Roof and Minnie Fay in Hello Dolly and this spring I'll be playing Ensign Nellie Forbush in South Pacific.
My singing teacher in New York, Graham Bernard, died last fall. He is another guiding light--like Samuel and other teachers who are translating their own joy and suffering into compassion for others. I mention these teachers because they have been so important in my life. Samuel was the first --the spark that sparked my spark. One cannot put a value on that.
Since Samuel's newsletter will be going to past students, I send a greeting to all of you out there whose lives have altered mine. Remember and ponder the Sufi quote Samuel had tacked up somewhere?
'My existence is through you, and your appearance is through me,
But if I had not appeared you would not have been'.
Shalom from Deborah El-Sheli