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From Jp – So Hard to Say Goodbye

November 13, 2015

The Network of Ensemble Theaters defines an ensemble as: a group of individuals dedicated to collaborative creation, committed to working together consistently over years to develop a distinctive body of work and practices. Ensemble members, both artists and administrators, are empowered to help shape their theater’s artistic direction and organizational structure.

For Touchstone, this isn’t just a definition; it’s a means of existence. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that the lines between home and work are blurred beyond clear definition. Beyond being our livelihoods, this is our art, our vision, and we’ve decided to create it with each other. It’s a marriage. It’s a battlefield foxhole. It’s a senate. Some might call us exclusionary in the act of Ensemble making; you don’t often find Touchstone (outside of our community-based undertakings) holding open auditions or rapidly bringing new Ensemble Members into the fold. This week, we once again remember, in part, why: because it hurts when someone leaves. It’s the dissolution of the family. It’s the fallen comrade. It’s the nation collapsing in to it’s pieces. Whether on good terms or bad, it hurts either way.

I often tell people the quickest way to become friends with someone is to jam. It’s that simple: pick up an instrument and play… sing a song together. When the music ends, you’ll carry that moment of sublime human harmonic resonance forward. But whenever the best music ceases, there is always a moment of emptiness, something where there was once something. In the mythos of the Greek god Pan, there is a story where Pan and Apollo had a musical competition. Pan played first, and all of the animals and humans came to hear the beautiful music and celebrate in it. When Apollo played, all sat rapt, and when he was finished playing, it’s said that the absence of his music made everyone feel as if they had lost a loved one. Apollo was crowned champion.

This week, Ensemble Associate Josh Neth leaves his post for the greener pastures of sunny California. Josh had been a part of the Ensemble for the last two years and had become not only an invaluable member of the artistic family but a true friend. We will all miss you, Josh. Thanks for jamming.

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