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Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Sneak Peek from (the book) The Gospel According to Josh



Holy freaking cow. So full disclosure, I’m at the tail end (I think. I hope.) of finishing writing a 350 page book version of The Gospel According to Josh. It’s vulnerable. It’s deep. It’s gonna be the hotness. And I wanted to share some of it with you because...well, I like you...and maybe because the message of the writing could be of use to you. 

How? Give me just a sec, I’ll get to that. But this portion of writing I’m sharing with you did not originate as a piece of the book. It’s actually from a diary/blog I started in January 2011 and something that’s never seen the light of day—till now. 
This particular post I wrote in early February 2011 and it’s interesting to me because I think it’s useful to see where you are as a person from one year to the next and how you’ve grown and changed etc. (Gulp) Here goes:

An excerpt from the book version of The Gospel According to Josh: (Insert Funny Unfinished Subtitle)

--
The Power of Prayer

Today I’m feeling the best that I have in awhile. I’m also thinking about the value of prayer. But what I’d really like to talk about today and what seems to be even more valuable to me than simply just praying is praying out loud. 

Now let me just give a little disclaimer that at times I might be a little spiritual but I tend to keep my religious beliefs to myself. I want to include everyone, religious or atheist who may have mental health issues (or not). 

Back to praying out loud. So recently I have rediscovered prayer after about seven to eight years of not praying once. I grew up in very religious home but felt a little oppressed by it so I vowed to leave it all behind completely. I’ve always felt spiritual and have always believed in a higher being (God) but I haven’t felt the need to talk to God until recently. And for me, praying out loud by myself has really helped my depression. 

I feel like when we simply think things and never focus enough to say our thoughts out loud or write them down, the thoughts become jumbled or forgotten and not acted upon. But speaking thoughts out loud or writing them down is a form of taking action. We’ve focused on what we want and are taking the effort to try to remember them again. So when I pray I ask God to help me to feel better. I ask Him to help me connect to positive people and positive experiences. I ask for motivation and wisdom and I ask to be a better friend, son, brother, future husband and father (those last two aren’t imminent but they could happen). I ask for all of these things over and over out loud. And by asking for these things over and over, I’m actually starting to make efforts to be that better friend, son and brother. I’m actively seeking out positive experiences and people. It’s not a perfect or perfected process but it’s helping me and I imagine it helps some of you as well and I wanted to share and connect about this recent revelation. 

Now I do know that sometimes when I’m praying I’m connecting to God and sometimes when I’m asking for these things over and over I’m just talking to myself. But the repetition of these prayers is very similar to a mantra. And according to my Apple dictionary a mantra is a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation. So the repetition helps me concentrate on what I need. I think my point on this is that we spiritual or religious folk can relate to our atheist friends on this point of praying out loud/repeating a mantra. All of us can ask God for things we need help with consistently and out loud OR if we don’t believe in God (and even if we do) we can consistently repeat mantras of things we need help with in our lives...(can this previous sentence be fixed for clarity?)...

Sometimes it’s nice to know that all of us, as different as we are, have a few more things in common than we realize when we just break things down and analyze them a little bit. Have a great day and thanks for reading.

Love,
Josh

I’m not sure how this post will go over and I’m famous for ruining the moment with my sometimes vulgar humor so I’ll simply say again, thanks for reading. -J

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"I am Adam Lanza's Mother"*



I want to take time from our regularly scheduled communication to write to you, tastefully I hope, and respond and talk about the tragic incident that befell 26 of our brothers and sisters in Newton, Connecticut this last Friday.

As many of you know I work often in the field of mental health and suicide prevention as an advocate and public speaker on the importance of mental wellness, community and yes even suicide prevention.

First, I want to take a moment to express that I care for each and every single one of you dearly and deeply, whether or not I see you or speak with you on a regular basis. It’s in these times we are compelled to come together as Americans, but most importantly as human beings and as a community to grieve our losses and support one another.

Support and community are the things I’m most concerned for. This young man, this Adam Lanza, from the reports that have come out over the past few days, was not mentally well and I, as an advocate for mental wellness, would be remiss in not taking this opportunity to have a brief dialogue with you and say that we as a society must demand of ourselves and our leaders better treatment and better education on early warning signs of children and adults who are not mentally well and who need greater support so these acts of violence against others and against self do not continue to occur.

It is not enough that we shed tears and offer our thoughts and prayers for these victims and their memory. The best way we can honor their lives is by:

a) offering our support to each other with open, honest, and vulnerable words and communication

b) by paying more attention to the mental health of ourselves, our neighbors, and people who most would find undesirable to share a room with, and

c) find a way to educate ourselves about how to help oneself and our neighbor when in (mental or physical) crisis.

If there’s anything I can ever do to help or support you in any way, please do not ever hesitate to email or pick up a phone and call.

Lastly, please take a moment to read the article which I’ve provided a link to. It paints an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to live with a young person struggling and dealing with mental illness: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-mental-illness-conversation_n_2311009.html

With love and blessings,
Josh

—-
PS. I’m working on a project, “The I am Worthy Project,” in April ’13 in Mystic Connecticut, just under 2 hours away from Newton, CT. We’re working on bringing suicide prevention and mental health awareness and training to the community. I’m donating some of my time and services to this “Worthy” cause. Please take a moment if you have it and check out the project and if you feel compelled, please consider making a donation to help make this project a reality. Many thanks: http://www.indiegogo.com/Iamworthy/x/1909340

*Originally published through the blog The Arts Entrepreneur

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Blog Post from Mr. Duane


Hello bosses, bossettes, and friends of Joshua.

Mr. Duane here, you know the Mr. Scott Duane from Joshua’s play The Gospel According to Josh. 

I can not believe that I, a humble high school English teacher, made it in to the annals of history by being written and then portrayed by Joshua himself in what some would call the writings of a poor, or even completely destitute, man’s Jack Kerouac—minus the road trip and ramblings of beat poetry.

In our year together in high school more than ten years ago now, Joshua was not much of an English student, in fact I thought him to be completely illiterate until he read a passage, and brilliantly I might add, of Green Eggs and Ham for the first of many senior English class book assignments. 

But in truth, we’ve heard enough about Joshua. This is my proverbial time to shine, my illustrious and well-deserved fifteen seconds of fame and I intend to milk every last nano-second from our friend and enemy, father time.

If you like Joshua’s play, at all, then you’ll love my new one-man play—written and performed by the thespian of all thespians, me of course—entitled Amazing Grace, How Putrid the Smell. In this three hour epic poem of sorts, I begin my life as an actual sperm cell who grows to be the son of a butcher, also a man who has secret designs to be a hand model, in the Meatpacking District in New York City in the early 1950’s. It’s a tale of love, loss, losing one’s hands, a week in a minimum security prison, and sexual discovery in the face of having no anus—a work of art that Jackson Township New Jersey’s Tri-Town News called, “A frantic run through the park at night,” “verbal masturbation,” and, “one-hundred eighty minutes of grief and pained laughter.” 
We’ve just extended the run of the show two more weeks and I do hope you can make it. I’m not too familiar with the internet so if you want to come see Amazing Grace, How Putrid the Smell, make sure you get in touch with Joshua and he’ll give you all the information you need.

Thank you all very much and I look forward to writing to you again very soon.

All my best,

Scott Kristobel Duane

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What is Great Theatre?


Some of the very first pieces of theatre that were staged as plays in the traditional sense, originated in ancient Greece and were performed by one actor.

Theatre in ancient Greece was part of a broad culture that commented on and was integrated into politics, religion, law, sport, or life and death.

In his Poetics, Aristotle said that theatre provided the viewer with a catharsis, or purification and healing through means of a vision. Great theatre must entertain the viewer while helping them reconnect with the needs of their humanity and the needs of a larger society

Thinking about theatre’s past with an eye on the future I wanted to try to define what great modern theatre should entail, specifically with The Gospel According to Josh in mind:

Selfless: Often solo shows or other pieces of theatre are described as “vanity pieces,” where a singular person wears multiple hats of a writer, producer, and actor. But this piece in particular and all its components are much bigger than the person running around with a bunch of hats his head to make this project work (see: suicide prevention work in the community, job creation for support staff, the want and hope to inspire with the show’s themes)

Entertaining: There should be a clear want stated by the protagonist (main character) from the very beginning of the play, and obstacles should be sprinkled throughout until the protagonist gets what he is looking for. Humor and poignancy should also be factors in the script. A big thank you to Matt Hoverman and Josh Gaboian for their help in ensuring that all these factors are paid attention to in The Gospel...  script. 

A Message: The audience should come away hearing some sort of message that speaks to them in a way that causes them to think about their lives and the importance of their place in the world. Perseverance, familial relationships, forgiveness, love, community, and suicide prevention have all been messages taken away from The Gospel... so far and I wonder and hope there are more to be discovered.

Support to the community: This somewhat goes back to the aspect of selflessness, but community is such an important theme to this piece. If a solo show or any piece of theatre didn’t take care of a larger community, then a huge opportunity is lost in making long lasting friendships and sharing the true gift of your show. Preparations are being made to donate a large portion of our Off-Broadway ticket sales to various suicide prevention, crisis intervention, and other health service charities. We want to also do weekly talkbacks on suicide prevention, producing theatre for the solo-show community, running a business for small business owners, and any other relevant topic that comes up throughout the run.

These components of great theatre apply to any business large or small and can be used and implemented at any time.

I’d also be curious to hear what you might think great theatre is. Any great suggestions will make their way back to this blog with your name credited as a contributor and will be used during the Off-Broadway run of The Gospel According to Josh. Thanks!!