The Creative Act

In my kitchen there are two constants: dirty dishes, and this:

My Kitchen, Oct. 2013 028

This little wall hanging is only 5″ square (about 13cm), but its message looms large in my mind.

Many years ago, I hung this on a cabinet next to my sink, as a reminder that each day is an opportunity to create something. I don’t always manage it, of course, unless you consider a day well lived to be a creation. (I don’t always manage even that.)

I am driven to create things, as I believe all of us are. My copy of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (a crumbling, oft-thumbed volume from 1976) defines “to create” as “to bring into existence.” That, of course, is quite beyond my powers; I can’t make something from nothing. But Webster’s goes on to list other meanings, of which this is my favorite: “to produce through imaginative skill: the actor created an entirely new Hamlet.”

This definition jumped off the page at me. I just saw Joe Knezevich create an entirely new Hamlet at Georgia Shakespeare, and I have long believed that acting is a creative endeavor. You could argue that playwrights create, and actors merely interpret. But I would respectfully reply that the playwright’s words are a love letter to the creative actor, an invitation to embody the writer’s vision and give it form and substance. That embodiment is, at its best, a new creation each night.

We closed Hamlet a few days ago, and I already miss the nightly ritual of creating a life on stage. I know I’ll be acting again soon (in Lombardi at Aurora Theatre), but there are many days to fill before rehearsals begin. I’ll be finding my creative opportunities in ordinary life: cooking, sewing, writing, taking pictures, and tending to relationships with the people I love.

First, though, I have to wash the dishes.

My Kitchen, Oct. 2013 033

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