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Hyperion on the Culture Studio with Janice Forsyth

Exciting news! Hyperion has been getting lots of media attention this week. First up, here is an interview I did on BBC Scotland Radio’s The Culture Studio with Janice Forsyth talking about the Hyperion show at Govanhill Baths alongside celebrated playwright and performer Jo Clifford, who is playing the Voice of God in the show. Our interview is 1hr37mins in.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b046pgnj

For lots of behind-the-scenes information about the show and the booking link, go to www.hyperionshow.com

 

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Hyperion: One week to opening night

Hi everyone, I will eventually blog about my experiences writing and directing Hyperion, because it has been such a fascinating process. But for now, if you want to find out more about the show, there is lots of behind-the-scenes information at our website www.hyperionshow.com

The show will be on at Govanhill Baths, 24-28th June (that’s next week!). To book your tickets, please go to: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/715492

Thanks to everyone for your amazing support, I can’t wait for you to see the show, it’s going to be amazing!

Alexa x

 

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Audition Notice

Hyperion

Hyperion
directed by Alexa Ispas

Govanhill Baths, 24th – 28th June 2014

A young, beautiful girl looks up at the morning star and makes a wish.
‘Oh come to me, Hyperion, glide to me down a beam, enter my spirit and my mind and over my life gleam.’ As he envelops her in his cold rays night after night, the morning star wishes he could give up his immortal fate for just one hour of earthly love…

Based on ‘Luceafarul’ by Romania’s national poet Mihai Eminescu and brought to life using a range of contemporary artforms such as hip-hop and video projections, this show will be a unique theatre-going experience designed to put the emerging performance venue at Govanhill Baths firmly on the map of the Glasgow theatre scene.

Audition workshops:
You can come to either one of these two workshops: Wednesday 26th March or Thursday 27th March 2014 at Govanhill Baths, starting at 7pm. Each workshop will include an introduction to the show and the performance venue, some physical and vocal warm-up exercises, and some improvisation work.

To book a place on one of the audition workshops, please email hyperionshow@yahoo.com

If you would like to audition but can’t make it to this audition workshop, email hyperionshow@yahoo.com to arrange an alternative time.

Cast breakdown

Catalin
Male, playing age 16-23, any ethnicity. Jack-the-lad, full of hormones, cheeky, playful, keen on hip hop, bling, and street dancing, he does all he can to woo the king’s daughter.

Catalin’s gang (six roles to be filled)
Male, playing age 16-23, any ethnicity. Young men wreaking havoc, rapping, and challenging Catalin to woo the king’s daughter.

Suitor
Male, playing age 16-23, any ethnicity. Young man asking permission from the king and queen to take their daughter out on a date.

Catalina
Female, playing age 16-23, any ethnicity. A girl ‘of most distinguished royal blood’ and of emerging sexuality, forced to live a solitary life in her parents’ deluded world, she is torn between her spiritual and her earthly desires.

Ensemble cast
In addition to the main characters, the show will include a large ensemble of performers of any age, gender, and ethnicity. They will be engaging with the audience while narrating the story, as well as beatboxing, dancing, and/or playing musical instruments.

 

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This question can save your life

‘One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead.’  Oscar Wilde

Creating legacy and mortality

In the bestselling ‘The Book Thief’, author Markus Zusak uses death as a narrator, and begins with these two sentences: ‘Here is a small fact. You are going to die.’

Personally, I think this is the one small fact that we are trying all our life to forget. And in order to forget it, many of us postpone doing the things that we desperately want to do before we die, because doing them implies that time might might be running out.

So we leave the trip to Argentina, writing that novel, or launching that acting career for later, for when we are financially secure enough to have earned the right to live. In the meantime, we distract ourselves with chasing that promotion at that job we told ourselves we’re only taking to pay the bills, but to which we are sacrificing our every waking moment; impressing the boss we don’t really like just because he’s there to be impressed; and competing with our friends for who gets the biggest pay rise and making the biggest impression on our boss.

Up against the clock

The thing is, time is running out. Even though life expectancy in my neck of the woods is something like 79.4 on average, none of us knows when our time is up.

There are so many stories of people who were suddenly told they have a terminal illness. Quite often, their response is to use up their remaining time to do all the things they had always wanted to do, but had always postponed. And in the last months of their lives, these people suddenly discover what it is like to live, not to go through the motions pretending to be alive but to actually live.  

The question

So here is the question I promised you in the title: If you found yourself on your deathbed, what would you most regret not having done during your life?

We don’t usually talk about this question. It’s not polite to mention death in conversation. And we often even prevent ourselves from thinking about it as well.

But I think by avoiding the question of our own mortality, we are preventing ourselves from seeing the wood from the trees, from sorting out the things that are really important to us from the things that other people persuaded us are important.

The life that asking yourself this question can save is not the boring, routine life most of us are leading; it’s the life we want to lead but don’t have the courage to.

Ask this question of yourself today. Now. And whatever it is you think you will regret not having done if the moment of death was near, do it now. Don’t wait.

Don’t avoid thinking of your own mortality

In your daily life, stop avoiding questions about death. The certainty that death will should act as an impetus to make the most of the life we have. 

My guess is that once you start thinking of your own mortality, you will soon think about a way to leave a trace on this earth by creating legacy. But creating legacy takes time, and if you don’t start creating legacy soon it may be too late.

Death is bound to come for you, sooner or later, like it will for us all. The question is, when it comes: will you be happy with the way in which you have used your precious time on this planet?

Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


 

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Happiness Project book review

Creating legacy and happiness

A while ago, I mentioned Gretchen Rubin’s fabulous book and blog The Happiness Project in a blog post about the relationship between creating legacy and happiness

Here’s a vlog review of The Happiness Project book I recorded recently. Enjoy! :)

By the way, I’m planning to record more vlogs with book reviews for the different books I’ve been blogging about, and post them on this blog. If you’ve got any particular requests, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


 

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The 6 characteristics of trust agents

‘ To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.’  George MacDonald

Creating legacy and engendering trust

Ambitious legacy projects often require the input of more than one individual. If you are a legacy creator in need of help, you therefore need to learn how to engender trust. In other words, you will have to become a trust agent, a term used by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith in their excellent book by the same title.

What being a trust agent entails

As Chris and Julien emphasise, being a trust agent is something that can be learnt, it’s not necessarily something you have to be born with. Here are six defining characteristics of ‘fully formed’ trust agents:

1. Making your own game. Trust agents, like most legacy creators, are particularly good at getting things off the ground without the gatekeepers. Bit by bit, their pioneering work becomes known by others who want to join them.

 2. Becoming ‘one of us’. Trust agents have a knack for getting people to identify with them. They do this by being highly aware of the unwritten rules of the community they are targetting, and behaving in such a way as not to upset the sensibilities of the people within that community.

 3. Using leverage. Trust agents often use something they have accomplished as leverage for more visibility with their next project. This again is something that legacy creators are also very good at, and yet another reason why legacy creators are well-suited to becoming trust agents.

 4. Becoming Agent Zero. Trust agents are good at being at the centre of wide, powerful networks. They do so by jumping at the chance to meet others online and at events, and connecting these new acquaintances with other people. This is course is strongly connected to leverage, as such networks are then highly useful in leveraging previous projects to reach more recognition with one’s current legacy project.

 5. Being a human artist. Trust agents are excellent at learning how to work well with people, empowering them, and recognising their strengths and weaknesses. They know when to improve relationships and when to step away, thereby constantly increasing the number of people who are willing to help them out on a project.

 6. Building an army. Trust agents are skilled at getting large groups of people together, to collaborate on specific legacy projects. When you can get a large group to collaborate, you can achieve monumental tasks that may have been previously impossible.

Are you a trust agent? How do you go about gaining people’s trust in your ability to lead a legacy project through to completion?

Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


 

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Are you in the learning zone?

‘The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.’  Bertrand Russell

Creating legacy and the learning zone

The learning zone is located between things you find really easy to do (the comfort zone), and things that are so difficult that you don’t really have the courage to attempt (the panic zone). When a task is located in the learning zone, it is neither too easy nor too difficult for you; it stretches you to go just one bit further than you’ve been in the past.

Only by choosing activities in the learning zone can you make progress. That’s where the skills and abilities are located that are just out of reach, not too close yet not too far.

It is when you are in the learning zone that you are most likely to create legacy. This is because you feel challenged enough to try out new things, but not so challenged as to be tempted to give up easily.

Try to stick to the learning zone

Keeping the progress of your legacy project in the learning zone is easier said than done. The reason why I’m writing about the learning zone today is because I’m currently experiencing problems with this in relation to one of my legacy projects.

This legacy project is a play for two actors. The writing was going quite well until Monday, when I tried to write out a few scenes that I hadn’t yet planned out properly yet. This was my mistake, because it immediately put the project into the panic zone, and for the past few days I ended up having to get my spirits back up after having failed miserably at writing those scenes.

And as I was trying to figure out why I have failed, I realised that this is because I stepped out of the learning zone into the panic zone, trying to speed the process of writing the play up a bit. As you can see, it didn’t pay off, and I’ve now lost a few days of work because of it. Lesson learned.

The learning zone keeps changing

Another thing to bear in mind about the learning zone is that its boundaries keep changing. As you are becoming more and more comfortable with your legacy project, tasks that were once in the panic zone will become part of the learning zone, and then the comfort zone.

For example, I’m sure that in a few weeks I’ll be laughing at how trying to write those few scenes blocked my progress on writing this play in such a massive way; it’s just the way legacy projects work, you have to approach things one step at the time.

How to find the learning zone

A handy little exercise I’ve learned about finding the learning zone is to take a big sheet of paper (ideally, one of those things they use in presentations), and map three concentric circles onto it. The smallest circle is the comfort zone, the middle circle the learning zone, and the largest circle the panic zone.

On a stack of post-it notes, write down tasks you have to do for your legacy project in the forseable future, e.g. the next month. Now see where along the three circles each of your post-it notes belong.

As you’re getting the tasks completed, try to mix those from the learning zone with those from the comfort zone, so the comfort zone tasks don’t become too boring.

Once you get those complete, you may find that your learning zone has changed, and that some of the tasks that were previously in the panic zone are now in the learning zone. So get those done next, and so on.

If you do this exercise, let me know how you got on, and if you can think of ways of improving it.

Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


 

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Creating legacy through small opportunities

‘Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.’  Orison Swett Marden 

Creating legacy and small opportunities

Creating legacy is about making the very best of whatever happens to you. There’s no such thing as a small opportunity; there are just ‘opportunities’, which you can make the best of or not.

Every opportunity helps you flex your legacy muscles

Never underestimate the value of small challenges to flexing your legacy muscles. Such challenges provide excellent avenues for deliberate practice

By overcoming small challenges, you are elevating the stakes for yourself, and what may look like an insurmountable obstacle today may look minuscule in a year’s time. This is the power of improving your ability to create legacy one small step at a time.

Small opportunities and building a reputation

Another reason to do your very best with every single opportunity that comes your way, no matter how small it may seem, is that you will build a reputation as someone who does their best.

Eventually, people will begin to call you and ask if they can help you on your next legacy projects; and gatekeepers will begin to take notice of you.

Therefore, treat every opportunity you have as a way of building a brand, of convincing people that you are worth rooting for.

How are you taking advantage of the opportunities that come your way?

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Creating legacy through deliberate practice

 ’It’s not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it’s what you put into the practice.’  Eric Lindross

Creating legacy and the need to practice

Creating legacy rarely happens by accident (even when it looks that way). Usually, legacy creators have to abide by the ten-year rule and use this time to continuously improve their craft through practice.

But not any kind of practice will lead to improvement. Decades of psychological research suggests that for practice activities to yield continuous improvements, they have to fall into the category of what researchers have come to call ‘deliberate practice.’ 

What deliberate practice is and isn’t

As researchers have argued,  what most of us think of as practice isn’t what researchers mean by deliberate practice. Let’s take a concrete example. Let’s say I’d like to create legacy through writing a series of essays that I intend to publish in book form. Therefore, my aim is to become the best essay-writer I can be; how do I do that?

Most of us would assume that the answer is to write essay after essay, hoping that this will increase the quality of the output. In fact, research suggests that this approach is wrong. Instead, what I have to do in order to become a better essay writer is to find out where my weaknesses lie with respect to essay writing; and then to engage in activities specifically designed to address those weaknesses.

So for example, I may find that one of my weaknesses with writing essays is my poor understanding of structure. This means that I need to find an activity that will focus on practicing structure.

An example of such an activity would be to read high-quality essays written by someone else; not look at the article for a few days; and then write out the structure of that essay if I were to write it. By continuously doing this with a wide range of essays, my understanding of structure would improve. Then I’d move on to another weakness and design an activity specifically designed to tackle that, and so on.

The 6 characteristics of deliberate practice

Okay, I know the concept of deliberate practice is quite complicated, so I’ve written a list of characteristics that I hope will help you decide whether an activity falls in the category of deliberate practice or not:

1. Deliberate practice is an activity designed specifically to improve performance. Deliberate practice requires that you identify sharply defined elements of performance that need to be improved, and then work intently on each of them separately. As soon as you record measurable improvement with one aspect, you can move on to the next.

2. Deliberate practice often requires a someone else’s (e.g. teacher/coach) help. There’s a reason why the world’s best golfers still go to teachers. One of the reasons goes beyond the teacher’s knowledge. It’s his or her ability to see you in ways that you cannot see yourself. Without a clear, unbiased view of your performance, choosing the best practice activity will be impossible.

3. Deliberate practice activities can be repeated a lot. High repetition is the most important difference between deliberate practice of a task and performing the task for real, when it counts.

4. Feedback on results is continuously available on deliberate practice activities. Practicing without feedback is like bowling through a curtain that hangs down to knee level. You can work on technique all you like, but if you can’t see the effects, two things will happen: you won’t get any better, and you’ll stop caring. 

5. Deliberate practice activities are highly demanding mentally. This applies not only for activities that are intellectual, such as my essay-writing example, but also to activities that are heavily physical.

6. It isn’t much fun. Yep, that’s the bad part, and the main reason why there are so few top performers and legacy creators. The good news though is that if you stick with deliberate practice, you are bound to see a real improvement in your performance.

By the way, if you want a really in-depth explanation of deliberate practice, read Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. A terrific book with lots of examples of how deliberate practice has helped legacy creators and other top performers improve their work in a wide range of areas of endeavour.

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Creating legacy the sensible way

‘Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyse you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.’  Bernice Johnson Reagon

Creating legacy and (not) killing yourself

Creating legacy is about stretching yourself just a little bit further every day. Where many people go wrong is that they are seized by an immediate urge to create legacy, suddenly realising that time is flying past them at dizzying speed.

So they take on legacy projects that are far beyond their current abilities, and then they work insane numbers of hours on these projects, trying to make as much progress as quickly as possible. Before the month or even the week is over, they’ve run out of energy and out of enthusiasm for the project, and then they decide that creating legacy is not something they are able to do.

I’ve seen this happening so many times I’m considering putting up a ‘health warning’ sign on my blog. Honestly, people, where did you leave your common sense? Although creating legacy does imply leaving something behind for future generations, it’s not meant to become the cause of your death, okay?  

Stretching yourself – the sustainable way

Okay, so what I’m proposing instead is that you should approach creating legacy one small step at a time. For your first legacy project, choose something you can get done in under six months, or maybe even in one month. You can always challenge yourself further next time.

Also, set yourself a low and realistic target for every day you are working on your legacy project, and don’t push yourself beyond that target. This may sound counter-intuitive, but particularly on legacy projects that require creativity (such as writing), it’s better to start the new day with lots of new ideas that you didn’t get to the previous day, than stuck because you’ve run out of steam.

For example, Kate DiCamillo, the award-winning children writer, limits herself to writing only two pages a day. Even if things are going well, she stops once she has finished her two pages, because she wants to keep plenty of energy and ideas in store for the next day. I’ve recently adopted this strategy as well with my own creative writing project, and find that it’s really working.

Of course, on days when I’m brimming with ideas it feels frustrating to stop right upon reaching my target, but what I do in that case is I scribble down my ideas in the back of the notebook, so I know what to start with the next day. This means I’m usually dying to get back to writing the next day, and I know exactly where to start the day’s session.

How do you make sure you don’t push yourself too hard while creating legacy?

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