Closing Machinal - Letting Go
Time Spent in a Focused, Passionate, Artistic World Truly Changes You.
Sunday May 28 was the day we closed Machinal by Sophie Treadwell and I celebrated my birthday. This is a Machinal Newsletter.
Everything ran as normal. It was almost eerie at how normal it was for it being the last day. I ran through my normal excessively long warmup. My energy was sort of same same. I felt great in my performance for the show. I watched Jess Hughes’ character of Young Woman leave the world for the last time. Still ok, strong heavy energy, a bit more than usual, but seemed regular. Bows, all good, I’m alright. Walking off, I’m alright. Right as I step behind the curtain the emotions of letting go of something I deeply care for broke me down. I sat myself in a corner, began silently sobbing allowing everything I was feeling to have it’s place. It was a proper release. My work was done, and my character was leaving. Releasing me from my responsibility. I felt truly that I had succeeded in my work toward my character and toward the story. My character found some peace.
Being apart of Machinal has been life changing, or maybe soul deepening, or a few answers to some questions I’ve been asking. I’ve been challenged in many ways with this role. The heaviness of my character, masculinity, and the difference of sacred masculinity compared with modern patriarchal and capitalistic views. it has been a soulful retreat. One that was meant to occur, and as always, my findings are beyond what I initially thought I’d be receiving from the process.
I want to simply process a few things in real time. Which is more a less the point of these newsletters, a form of public learning for those who wish to follow through my constant transformation and journey toward artistic and spiritual freedom. With Machinal I feel almost overwhelmed with how much I need to work through, but here’s a few things I’ve been able to process. Let’s begin!
The Weight of Masculinity
It wasn’t something I noticed right away, but every time I brought my character into the rehearsal space I felt heavy. The gravity increased, shoulders became tense, legs compensated for more weight than necessary. Something internal shifted. Maybe it was nerves or a bit of imposter syndrome in this room of insanely talented actors. Yes, and I’d also say that my body subconsciously found the heaviness that my character holds. It’s the weight of shame, guilt, living in a system that to be a man you must carry this internal weight that is falsely considered “power” A distrust of the world. This masculine archetype was a suffering traveler, a distant lone wolf, paired with a dangerous set of eyes that imbued a spark of curiosity to find out more. The silent brooding type.
That was me for many years, a weighted crown I’d place atop my head to position myself as an authority. Through one fell swoop I destructed that crown and just like swallowing the proverbial red pill I couldn’t see anything else but the truth of what I was doing. I lived and had been an active player in this culturally toxic western masculine ideology. It was in playing this character in Machinal that I had a more tangible approach to exploring this masculine identity and the one that I had been escaping from for a few years now.
The space gave me an opportunity to feel safe in exploring the concept of this masculinity, what worked, what didn’t, and led me to finding the beginnings of a greater option, the sacred masculine. Which will be a newer idea explored in coming newsletters as I’m just approaching this notion.
Many rehearsals came and went and the weight stayed. It never left, but the weight is only something I came to accept. Understanding the truth of what I was feeling led me to find how my character holds himself, and I applied that to the work. I find more with each moment I spend with my character.
First man doesn’t subscribe to a classic ideal of masculinity, he’s grounded in nature and has a great thumb for changing patterns and spirit. but he still finds himself trapped in the patriarchal machine which we find by his social actions. These findings keep coming to me and only continue sparking my curiosity with each passing moment.
To Speak to Sophie Treadwell in Aid to Her Story and Political Message
Nikki Davis was the one who brought on the fact that I need to look deeply into the author of the show as well. Well of course I’ve heard this from my teachers but just as all parents and teachers know you can’t choose the time and place for a student to learn something. They either get it or don’t, walk away with it, or leave it. But Nikki offered it to me and I ran with it!
I didn’t commune with Sophie Treadwell as much as I wanted to but she began to be a part of my process, she entered into the space with me and informed my character much more. It was the story that she wrote and what she was fighting for that I feel has also entered into my soul.
I’ve gained a deep curiosity in feminist theory and literature, also thanks to Nikki Davis, as well as the artists who surrounded me in the space of this show.
My research has to include at least a little bit of the author from now on without exception. It’s the influence of the work that these artists are doing. I find a deeper understanding of the WHY of their message and justifying subtle things that might really improve my ability to tell a story.
Healing my own Sacred Masculine
For many years I went on the similar route that most men do. Grow up in an environment that promotes disassociation, anger, ego, and misogyny, and don’t you dare question these things or go to therapy because the man is strong and definitely not affected at all by the means of anything mental.
Both luckily and not so luckily a few definitive moments in my life occurred that led me to question all that was masculine. Everything I had learned from any man, from any male on TV or film, I questioned the church, religion, and spiritual practices brought about by men. I just couldn’t trust any male relationship as it had led me to something I was deeply afraid of.
I got a female therapist, and any friends I did have were female or feminine, or if any masculinity at all, they understood the faults of contemporary masculinity, and accepted their innate femininity.
I’ve been on a journey healing many parts of myself and my masculinity has been on that list, but I just haven’t felt safe exploring it again in the world.
So acting has given me this wonderful unique opportunity to re-explore this masculine energy in a safe environment. Exhibiting behaviors of a VERY masculine human, and finding and exploring what’s working and what is not working.
It has been the spark of delving into further study on the “Sacred Masculine” and re-exploring it from somewhat overcorrecting myself and stripping away a lot of my own masculinity.
There’s a book I’ve begun to read called The Flowering Wand: Rewilding the Sacred Masculine Which was suggested to me by someone who came to one of our shows, and after a short time knew exactly what I was in the middle of exploring and granted me further reading. I’m excited to delve into this and continue documenting my findings.
Another form of healing my sacred masculine has been about exploring my sacred feminine. We all have both masculine and feminine energy, and though I grew up with a disproportionate amount of masculinity and ego, I am now swinging the pendulum to explore my innate femininity. So now it’s about a rebalancing.
How I Can Personally be a Political Agent as a Male-Identifying Artist.
I’ve always felt that politics stress me out. A lot of the strikes that are going on become a lot to me and I get really anxious because I’m not being an active participant in my community and I’m letting so many people down and all I want is for this world to improve.
So I’ve come to terms with a few things. I have skills, skills that I wish to master, and that’s in acting. So why not use the skills that I have now to be a civic agent within my community?
The show that I’m putting on now has given us an opportunity to create a CTA that inspires people to sign documents that lead to shit getting done within the community. We are creating conversations that are remarkably inspiring, hearing stories from different voices, and holding space for transformation. I’m a part of this. I’m A: Joining the conversation that we put on, and B: Am the actor who is creating the story with the other actors to spark the emotions, topics, and themes to be spoken about. I’m a part of creating the understanding of exactly where we are and then offering the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s my job, that’s a part of my divine responsibility as an actor.
My passion is acting. I’m not as passionate as carrying a sign in a large group of people and screaming at the top of my lungs. I get scared putting myself in those circumstances even though I know we always want more people to do that too. I just feel I have a greater ability to do something just as scary and just as powerful. I’m learning to accept more of my capabilities and limitations, and also learning what skills I have that can move the needle even further. That’s why I want to infiltrate the elite of hollywood and become an activist within that realm creating stories that invoke challenging self reflective questions, that then inspire action!
Finishing up this newsletter and reading through it I just think of how much I’m missing out on, there’s still so much to talk about. I know I know, I’m sending you (hyperbole) 10,000-word documents here. I’ll continue to improve in writing, in processing, and I’ll continue sharing the journey. This is all I have words for at the moment, and I think the reason I somewhat feel short of words is that it’s just the beginning of some really interesting topics I’ll be diving into.
I’m just thankful to have my curiosity sparked, I’m thankful for an understanding of how to be a political agent to help change this world. I’m thankful to have met so many incredible friends and talent throughout this process. I’m really really thankful.
Much love today and every day,
Matt Piper 🐅🌱