Mara’s picks from 2018 (Mara Thomas, ASBX blog post 016)

Greetings, Soapboxers!

What a year! Through the 46 (forty-six!!) Artist Soapbox podcast interviews released this year, I have learned so much about our creative community. Out of these informative, humorous and fist-pumpingly inspirational episodes, here are five that stood out for me as I reflect on the past year:

018: Artist & Leader Monèt Noelle Marshall speaks thru BUY MY SOUL AND CALL IT ART

In January, Monèt set the bar incredibly high with her intense, provocative installation BUY MY SOUL AND CALL IT ART. This episode revealed that BUY MY SOUL was the first part of a trilogy. Considering the impact of BUY MY SOUL, I couldn’t wait to see what else Monèt had up her sleeve. Much like watching a movie again after it blew your mind the first time, take another listen to hear the seeds of Monèt’s ambitious creation being planted.

027: Mellon DisTIL fellow Robin Frohardt transforms plastic into thought-provoking art

Thanks to Robin Frohardt, I am seeing plastic everywhere! In the episode, she describes her process of presenting information — that we are surrounded by plastic, that plastic does not biodegrade — and allowing her audience to draw their own conclusions. Just last week, when I took the Sunday newspaper out of its strange orange plastic bag, I thought of this episode and Robin’s message.

036: Capturing memories with filmmaker Janice Smith, owner and founder of Big Dog Little Bed

Talk about Playing Big! I loved hearing Janice Smith share the story of turning her filmmaking hobby into a full-time business and the leap of faith required to “build the parachute on the way down.” Additionally, I related as Janice described her seemingly-circuitous path to her career that, in hindsight, seemed inevitable.

Furthermore, I have both a beagle and a Great Dane so this episode was working for me on all levels.

(P.S. If you want to play big in 2019, register now for our Creative Accountability Group starting on Feb. 2nd!)

043: What good is a bad first draft? Playwright and arts educator Ian Finley extols the power of revision.

THE FIST-PUMPER. Y’all. Never have I been so motivated to churn out a bad first draft. In this episode, Ian reminded us that we learn about our work by doing the work, that “greatness is next door to awful,” and the necessity of taking the long-view with respect to my personal nemesis, revision. On behalf of my fellow perfectionists, thank you Ian for the encouragement to write, write, and write some more.  I know I will revisit this episode often.

055: Troubling things in rehearsal. How to handle bullying in creative spaces.

What does it mean to create a safe space? How do you truly do it? (Psst: just saying a space is safe does not count.) This episode offers many practical and useful tips for art-makers, whether you are a director, producer, actor or crew member. I encourage anyone involved in collaborative art-making to listen, learn, and implement the strategies suggested by Ashley Popio and Elizabeth Johnson.

Let us know which episodes are still on your mind. We’ve love to hear your thoughts.

See you next year, Soapboxers!


*Mara has a website!

Hear Mara on Bonus Episode 002, Episode 017 and Episode 001 of the Artist Soapbox podcast.

Mara Thomas is a Durham-based playwright, actor, musician and teaching artist. Her original theatre piece, YES TO NOTHING, was commissioned by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and played to raving crowds at music venues in Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham in fall 2017. Mara is working on YEAR OF THE MONKEY, a new play.

Blog posts and podcast episode about the Creative Accountability Group:

  1. Take your work seriously: put Creative Resistance on notice!
  2. Better together. A Creative Accountability Group debrief with Mara and Tamara
  3. Ask WHY to create opportunities for compassion
  4. Map your dreams

Blog posts about creativity resources:

  1. Cleaning house: Making space for creativity
  2. Nourish your creative self: Give your creative self a lift with something beautiful
  3. The importance of physical practice: Get out of your head and into your body

Blog posts about creative obstructions that present themselves when you’re on your creative path.

  1. Imposter Syndrome: Who do I think I am? Why even try?
  2. Perfectionism: I’m so afraid that my creation will not be perfect that I never actually do it.
    1. And another one about perfectionism!
  3. Comparison: I’ll never be as good as that person. I should probably quit.
  4. Distraction: I’ve convinced myself that all these other things have priority over my creativity.

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