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Posts Tagged ‘roots’

MACBETH and a Lesson in Courage

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Last night I got a great lesson in courage.  And from a rather unlikely source:

Last night I went to see the brilliant production of Macbeth (starring the always-amazing Alan Cumming) currently running on Broadway.

How can a production of MACBETH be a lesson in courage?


The entire show (except for a few lines) is performed by Alan Cumming.  That’s right.  I MEAN (almost) ALL OF THE ROLES.  And this isn’t a kitschy “let’s to Shakespeare as a one-man show” kind of production.  This was brilliantly thought out, planned and staged.  Incredibly inventive and not gimmicky–even though they used multi-media and technology in ways that surprised me.

But this isn’t a review of the show.  I’ll leave that to those that are qualified theater reviewers.

I want to tell you how Cumming’s performance rocked my world.

He took more risks than I’ve ever seen an actor take on stage.  He was naked (literally, at times) in how he presented the piece. He didn’t shy away from the show’s dark subject matter.  He didn’t break character.  He didn’t act as though he was being cute in a look-what-I-can-do-aren’t-I-being-clever kind of way.

He was willing to take risks that could have been colossal failures.  He screamed.  He whispered.  He wept.  He laughed maniacally.  There were times when I grabbed onto the side of my seat, sinking down and muttering under my breath, “Oh no, Alan. Don’t do that.  They’re all going to laugh!  It’s too risky!” (Thank God I wasn’t directing the show.)

He stood tall.  He bared himself–physically and emotionally–for the sake of the piece.  For the art of the craft.

He put himself on the line to bring the piece–and the artistic vision of everyone involved in this production–to life.

He was courageously vulnerable.

And in my eyes, that makes him a hero.

An artistic hero.

When I was working as/aspiring to be an actor, I wasn’t anywhere near that brave.  I was ridiculously self-conscious,  aware of every move that I made.  I chose to play it safe.  I didn’t want to fail.

And you know what?  I wasn’t successful.  My attempt to “not fail at any cost” was a total failure.

Art is about risks.  But so is life, right?

As a haole from the “the big city” who is working as a Hawaiian musician and teacher, it’s all about risks.  Being who I am and doing what I’m doing is a risk.  Some people will DISLIKE me based on that alone.

And that’s ok.

Because I’m not going to please everyone. And in truth, I’m not trying to please everyone.

I’m trying to be authentic and represent who I am–where I am now as well as the road that’s lead me here.

And I’m trying to be authentic in my sharing of what I’ve been asked to share.

And that’s scary.  That’s really scary.

But it’s totally worth it.

Because when you watch someone like Alan Cumming redefine a classic piece of theater– when you watch him reinvent it and yet honor its roots so beautifully–you can’t help but cheer and rise to your feet at the curtain call.  (And did I mention that he received a standing ovation through not one but THREE curtain calls last night?!)

He was successful in his portrayal.  All of the choices he made/had been directed to make were great.  They worked.  But even if the production had been flawed, he would have been successful in my eyes.

He acted with courage.  He acted with conviction.  He gave himself to the piece.

And allowing yourself to be vulnerable takes courage.

I hope to be that strong when I share a song or story or lesson that I’ve been asked to share.

I hope to represent what I know as bravely as he did.

We owe that much to those that believe in us.  Our directors.  Our teachers.  Our kūpuna.

Because it’s all about them when it comes to the curtain call at the end of the day.

Be pono.  Stand tall.  Share Aloha.

Right on.


Family Resemblance

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jason Poole, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, NYC, High Line

Mom, Dad and I on the High Line in NYC (Winter 2011)

Something startled me yesterday morning.

I was looking at my face in the mirror while I was shaving, making sure not to cut myself.  I turned my head slightly to get a better angle for shaving my chin and for an instant, it was as though I was looking at my father.

I mean, it REALLY looked my dad’s face in the mirror.  Something about the angle and the way I had my mouth fixed.  It was kind of surreal.

It made me stop for a minute and really look at myself.  I began moving my face around slightly–and with each move, it was as though I was transforming myself into another relative.  Almost like something you might see in a sci-fi movie.  If I raised my eyebrows, I resembled my mother.  If I puffed out my cheeks like my nephew does, it was like it was HIS face staring back at me and not mine.

I was blown away by the family resemblance.

And it got me thinking:  it’s not really that strange.  We all share the same DNA so we have similar characteristics.  And those characteristics have been passed down from generation to generation.


Same family tree…

Pops and I at Moʻoʻula Falls (Molokai, HI 2008)

But then I started thinking about Pops and how I resemble him even though we DON’T  share any family DNA.

I sound like him when I speak Hawaiian–his voice is the voice I hear in my head.  My reference point for the language.  I gesture like him when I teach.  I use similar examples, similar stories to illustrate a point.  And I’ve picked up his mannerisms over the years, physically resembling him, as well.  I can hear Mom Solatorio saying to me, “You look so much like Pops when you do that!”

(Fun Fact:  Pops and I made a recording one night–really late at night while we stayed up in Kaunakakai–strumming the ʻukulele and taking turns singing lead and harmony on an old Hawaiian song.  Here’s the crazy thing:  when I played it back, we couldn’t tell who was singing which part.  Our voices sounded identical at that point!)

And then I thought about how so many of of my friends who were adopted as children “look like” their adopted families–even though they don’t share DNA, either.

So I thought some more.

Maybe family resemblance is a lot more than just DNA.  Maybe it’s a combination of all sorts of contributing factors.

Maybe it just goes to show you that we’re amazingly adaptable creatures that form families–by blood, by choice.

Like Pops says, “E ʻohana mākou.”  We’re family.

And the family tree continues.

Right on.

What do YOU think about family resemblance?  Drop me a line!  I’d love to hear from you!