A Red Wing Rose in the Darkness

Today I watched as a sixteen year old girl was untethered, loosed. I watched her become something wild.

I teach acting. This girl was giving her final performance of the iconic scene between Nina and Konstantin at the end of Chekhov’s The Seagull. I had encouraged the students to let go of the technique and let the creative energy flow. And she did. We saw her perform on a level above her own abilities. We saw her in the throes of something that cannot be fully defined.

Everyone watching knew it was happening. We had all seen peers tap into a nice well of emotion, but this was different. This was transcendence. This was, as Plato would have called it, possession. This was, as Coleridge would have called it, a manifestation of the primary imagination. This was, as Keats would have called it, the mystery.

She is young, so it was messy. She is young, so she didn’t know how to let go of it when the scene was over. She sat shaking and crying, elated and happy. “It’s ok,” she said. “I’m fine. It’s just Nina.”

Every honest person knows there is an intangible part of the human experience. It is larger––much larger––than the tangible, observable part. Of course, you are free to remain earthbound. But If, as an artist, you have never connected with the intangible, then you have never created art.

I saw a girl float away today. She is never coming back.



We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.
And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.
That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.
O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.
–Czeslaw Milosz

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