May 28, 2014
Lizzie Cantey: My Journey with Bliss Point
Our community Production Assistant, Lizzie Cantey, works everyday as a member of the Stage Management team to organize, coordinate and maintain order in a very busy rehearsal room. Lizzie shares her journey with addiction and recovery and about her experience working on Bliss Point.
Before the script was written, the venues chosen, the roles cast – someone had an idea. From there it took a village of people and months of collaboration to have that dream become alive. This is my first experience with Cornerstone Theater, and my depiction of Bliss Point is only a fraction of the behind the scenes happenings at the company. So before I go on I would like to thank all of the people that helped these aspirations become a reality – from those I see everyday to those I may never meet – thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the symphony of Cornerstone, thank you for your ripple effects into the community, and thank you for all the hard work you continue to put forth.
I’ve always loved live theatre, but my own struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction derailed me from my passion for life. I was searching for an exterior high to numb the pain and fear I felt. Alcohol and drugs were my solution, until they quit working. I went to psychiatric wards, rehabs, jail cells, ER’s and ICU’s. But on October 12, 2011, I took my last drink, and 3 months later moved to Los Angeles. In the last 2 and half years I’ve learned how to feel all the feelings that come with being a human – pain, grief, fear, but also joy, awe, love and compassion. I’ve rediscovered my passion for life. I’ve ridden a motorcycle through South East Asia, swam in the Great Barrier reef, gone on road trips, sky diving, scuba diving, been homeless, and held a new born baby. I’ve spent holidays with my family (not always family of origin), turned 21 without drinking, gotten jobs, quit jobs, been in love, and mourned friends. Most recently, I’ve had the opportunity to join a community of people as they whole-heartedly give life to a world premier production. Talk about experiencing human emotion – I’ve felt every emotion possible while rehearsing Bliss Point, sometimes within a 2-hour period.
Six days a week, we enter the rehearsal space, either USVAA in Culver City, Cornerstone in Downtown LA, or most recently the Odyssey Theatre. Each bringing with us our own personal stories: the happenings of our day, our month, our year. But for hours each day we lose ourselves in the work, fully present and connected to each other but also to the common goal. Before we begin, everyone trickles in with smiles on as the coffee brews and loving hugs and warm greetings are given. After a couple of fruit snacks, cups of tea, or cigarettes -pick your poison- and a check-in to center and ground, everyone commences to drop deeply into the present. Juliette Carrillo and Shishir Kurup, the director and playwright, have fostered such an intimate development process, allowing everyone to give their creative touches. Whether it be spontaneous blocking on stage, sharing their personal story as it relates to their character, or giving suggestions for scene changes and line cuts – everyone has the freedom to have a voice and an opinion. It takes very determined, focused, yet flexible people to adapt to the microcosm at Cornerstone. Ego is slain for characters to emerge, props are improvised; line and scene changes are printed fresh and distributed – sometimes mid-rehearsal. Blocking and transitions evolve as the scenery in the theatre becomes a reality. Birthdays are celebrated, dietary needs are taken into account, and schedules are coordinated for 20+ people. Life happens outside of rehearsal and sometimes we hold each other while we cry, other times we dance and sing together. Jokes are told; cuddle puddles form on chairs and couches in the lobby. Punches are rolled with left and right, but always in good spirits with smiles on.
Bliss Point is a surreal and emotionally wrenching illustration of the hunger for Inner Peace. Stereotypes of addicts are questioned, “cures” are examined, deep-seated beliefs are broken, and new ones form as the characters all search for that stillness that lies within each of us. Some find it in drugs, some in faith and devotion, some in their accomplishments; some don’t find it at all and only see an answer in death. I hope you come to see Bliss Point, and I hope you find yourself in the characters. I see it every day, yet it never ceases to evoke such visceral reactions in my heart and soul.
Join us for Bliss Point, our collaboration with the addiction and recovery communities in LA.