by Thurman E. Scott
One of the foundations of my life on earth, since I was a small child in the backfields of Corapeake,, North Carolina, was the time I spent at night gazing from the rooftops into the outer reaches of space, dreaming and wondering, hoping for the opportunity to put into a practical, visionary expression my faith, my dreams and my deep longing to contribute to the enlightenment and support of human expression.
Now as I look into the future, I give thanks that I was born to a people with a deep sense of the sacred, a wish to make contact with each individual and a longing to support individual humanity within the great complexity of human existence.
I give thanks to all that we as humans worship and to the many different expressions of that worship for the multitude of moments of possibility and probability I have been given. These moments of opportunity enabled me to direct the full force of all the power within me toward the fulfillment of the dreams and ambitions I so longed for as I looked up at the moon and the stars and the black night sky and my young, unformed mind tried to understand the complexities of human existence.
As there is a god in all humans, and as all humans express their grace and divinity in different forms and images, I, too, want to continue along the pathway of my quest which had such humble beginnings. I move with gladness and a profound sense of destiny as I work to fulfill some of the expressions and hopes I first spoke softly in my young child’s voice to my great grandmother as we sat before the fire in our farmhouse deep in the woods alongside Dismal Swamp.
My great grandmother was a woman who had been a servant to the gentry. She had traveled the world on bended knee and served and borne witness to many cruelties and inhumanities shown toward her and her people. My great grandmother imparted to me deep and profound images and visions of wonder from far-away places. Her tales and her wisdom enkindled in me a flame that burned with a desire for knowledge and an inner rage of faith that was fanned by the winds of God’s enthusiasm and man’s longing.
The passion and spirit that play upon the dormant field of dreams, so natural in their inactiveness, were now activated in the natural flow of a young mind’s longing for development. This is the universal moment to which I have committed my life. And I will continue to commit myself to support the awakening of the spirit that lies sleeping in the mind of human existence.
The knowledge and acceptance that I, Thurman, could lift myself out of an early life with some times of human despair, awakened in me an acceptance of the potential in humankind. With this belief and the tried, proven and insightful images of my completed experiences, I committed my being to uplifting the lost spirit in any place where there exists hope deferred.
Hope and spirit exist in the communion of all humans. To encourage, nurture and support what already exists in humankind is what I see my work to be, as a creative, spiritual facilitator of individuals’ unique visionary expressions. We live in a time when we are so often alienated from each other’s unique expressions. The instant-ness of our mechanized, technological society has supported the dormant fear that lies in the collective consciousness: the fear of non-existence. As we move into the 21st century we must see technology as an expression of humankind reaching for its limitless expression. Yet, technology in action creates instant-ness which at times causes us to lose sight of the inter-related process of our human connection to things, events, and individuals. The loss of the connection to our inter-relatedness with the universe causes us to feel our fear of non-existence.
We must not allow the habit of instant-ness to overtake the moment when we come together for human exchange. Instant-ness betrays the longing and the cry of the human expression which is alive in each of us but denied when we do not accept the creative process of human relationships.
Human creation is the miracle of God’s vision. We must be proud of our technological, scientific, and creative discoveries. We must not fear our achievements and their far-reaching powers; nor should we allow these achievements to devalue our human expression. All things start and all things end in the spirit of God’s vision. As individuals each of us articulates this vision in our human existence. We must never allow ourselves to be betrayed by the instant-ness and touch and illusion of material things. Material things are simply a by-product of the expression, fulfillment and balance of creative process.
Creative process mobilizes the expression of our country, society, culture, and all situations where individuals are in communion with one another. This process creates a sense of safety and social harmony because it gives us the security of the continuous support of trust and faith as we encounter the mysteries of the unknown. The mysteries that await the unravelling of each human’s fragile sense of destiny are often too powerful and too frightening for the human to accept with grace and trust. And so we must remain innocent and unknowing of what the next moment brings and allow ourselves to give vent to our natural expression as lost wanderers in the land of plenty. This land of plenty is the multiplicity and individualized expression of the unique imagination of God’s individuals. To allow the instant-ness of life to remove oneself from the natural progression of this powerful force is to betray the legacy of the human’s primary history of unfolding light.
The world’s children are light that is covered by a veil of darkness. Within the child’s mind, naturalness and imagination beckon toward dawn. Dawn awakens and casts light upon the celebration of guiltless acceptance of possibility and ultimate probability. As the child dances in the light of self-acceptance, we witness the birth of the safety and security that shall move us into the next century. We witness the celebration of the imagination, which creates with enthusiasm and reveals spirit, uniqueness, joy, power, possibility and the triumph of the natural essence of humankind. Imagination exists in the soul and loins of individuals who are in a process of acceptance of their natural essence. At once tangible and intangible, imagination waits to take its place in the communion of human relationships, expression, and discovery.
These images, expressions, philosophic insights, social investigations and spiritual guidelines form the foundation of truth within me. It is with these insights which have produced the foundation of my life that I, Thurman Edward Knight Scott, have dedicated myself to The Actors Theatre Workshop and to my small part in contributing to the advancement of human, spiritual, and creative insights in order to quench the primal thirst and longing born in me at an early, tender age, looking into the darkness of night.
I have struggled to find a truth and an awareness and sensitivity that will enable me to facilitate the growth of new images, insights, and hope so that I may break new ground in the advancement of the human expression that seeks to find new forms for the deep primal, poetic, and Biblical images flowing through the daily communication of humankind. For this reason, I have struggled and discovered new forms, patterns, and foundations from which to express the written word. As theatre is born of the written word, so too are new worlds.
The written word is the most powerful tool in human history. It can carry us into the future with the magnificent expression of expectation and glee, without distrust or fear. It can carry us into the future with faith like a piercing beam of light searing through the limits of the accepted norm of fear and limitation.
Resistance to enlightenment produces complexity in a given situation. It is as if our moments of resistance were ghosts, haunts or apparitions from the past locked in the center of a rock, cowering in darkness, hiding from the natural progression of light. The consciousness of enlightenment has to bore through the rock of mystery to reveal the illusion and distortion and fear of unknown new possibilities. The struggle and ultimate discovery give us faith that something always exists on the other side of whatever moment we are in. Then opposition to enlightenment exposes itself as mere apparitions.
For once we accept change the illusion of fear is dissipated. Light reveals the ghostly, rock-bound inhabitants, their opposition to change, their accepted belief in illusion, and the distorted, chaotic energies this belief spawns. The chaotic energies break up and fly out to meet the light with an expression of gladness and glee, wildly embracing the mystery of the unknown and bringing forth a world of new opportunities.
The process through mystery and discovery keeps us moving on the path of discovery with wonderment, curiosity, awe and expectation. This process, born of and supported by the unknown of our next moment, renews our human naturalness, articulates our trust and faith and hope, and burns in the center of the eternal flame of the collective consciousness of the universe.
This consciousness, which I hope to reflect in my tasks as I walk down the road of human and creative expectancy, keeps alive in me a burning trust and faith that the multiplicity of the struggles on humankind’s journey ultimately forge the path that leads us to our collective creative and spiritual completion and balance. There is significance in every action that comes out of human expression. Action is but a metaphoric vibration that leads us to our own divinity. Our truth exists. Whether we accept it or not, it exists. Our pain is the violation of the betrayal of the primal, Biblical truth that lies dormant in the consciousness of humankind.
We as countries, we as the embodiment of the social structures of those lands, we as individuals already have the tools, wisdom and foundation within ourselves to lead us to the acceptance and completion of our longing that lies dormant beneath the accepted wall of fear and disillusionment. We must reach outside of our comfortableness with the old and find again the uneasiness of innocence with which to meet the mysteries of the unknown upon our divine eternal creative path of hope, truth and wisdom.
The mystery and the creative process of the young child in the night looking at the moon and dreaming and longing for explanations for existence, is the same process we practice to create great works of art. This process questions human existence and graces the hearts and minds of all humans along our eternal path.
Let us align ourselves with our natural truth. Let us allow ourselves the legacy of our naturalness and our eternalness. Let us recognize the power and divinity of each human being as sacred. Let us celebrate our gifts to one another as we reflect one another’s immense human potential.
I was awakened by the fire popping and jumping. The light of the sparks seemed to reflect my imagination. The sparks awakened my dreams and curiosity and I longed for a place far beyond where I was. As I gazed deep into the red oak logs, I was transfixed. My imagination was enflamed by my great grandmother’s tales of yonder years and the struggles of her journey as she fought to have moments of freedom and respite from the yoke of oppression. I felt a connection to my great grandmother’s spirit, and this left me with a feeling of awe and expectation of the fulfillment of incompletion. The possibility of completion of her deferred odyssey of magnificence generated in me a burning need to express her spirit through my child’s unformulated potential into a vision of new possibility.
The sparks of the popping fire broke the moment of my silent longing. I looked into my great grandmother’s eyes and saw the reflections of my dreams. Her intuitive acceptance of the fulfillment of my dreams struck deep vibrations upon her heartstrings and unleashed an avalanche, unburdening her longing for the completion of her own deferred dreams. The recognition that her dreams had the possibility of fulfillment created in her an acceptance that her struggle and her deferred dreams had not been ended. Her images, her incompletion, her great expectations, her glorious majestic moments of longing within silence awakened in me the faith and courage and glee that I had a path and a legacy of continuing possibility. To reach for the unfulfilled dreams of a woman born in a time of state sponsored collective oppression gave me a charge and vision on the path to complete and express the wisdom and insights of a grand lady’s odyssey still unfolding, buried deep and lying dormant in the magnificent arc of existence.
The tradition of enthusiasm within oppression which allowed this woman to reach beyond the accepted norms of accomplishment is the foundation that led me as a young child to have dreams and longings for places and things, ideas and questions that seemed beyond the limits of my possibilities. This tradition was passed down to me and buried deep in my soul while I stood in the shadows of a blazing red oak log, silently pulling the comb through my great grandmother’s long white hair.
I had dreams of leaving the farm, walking out under the sky, the same sky under which I so often longed and tried to understand the dimensions of the universe. I was leaving the corn, potato, and peanut fields, the memories of playing in the vegetable garden, wading in Dismal Swamp and nestling under the trees that overshadowed the graveyard and finding snail shells hidden under the pine needles there which to my child’s eyes were the tiny skulls of my forgotten ancestors.
I would take with me the memories of my old brown mule, Bob, and the pain I had to overcome seeing him lying on the hill. That hill was both the pathway and nemesis of freedom that challenged the courage of the inhabitants of the farm. Having not quite reached the top, the cart unchained from his body, Bob lay on the side of the hill in the last moments of his life, his job unfinished, suffering in his incompletion, in the cold of the wet morning dew.
Many times I watched my great grandmother march up the hill, her brow knotted like her hard oak walking stick as she climbed with determination and courage. At nearly one hundred years of age she still possessed a rage of faith against the challenges of life. Standing at the top, looking back down the hill and out over the pines, her flinty eyes were aflame and her white hair blew against the red winds of sunrise. She stood defiant and rooted with a passion that set the wind on fire igniting the spirits of the ancestors, the spirits of the ones who had been dropped into the sea and the ones who had made it to the land, the land where their gods were taken from them.
As she stood in the light of the rising sun all earthly afflictions were seared away and she stood in splendor and glory under God’s heaven, a queen in her full majesty. And the ancestors jumped and leaped upon the air like flames dancing in glad celebration to the clanking sounds of their shackles and chains breaking, the stinking rags dropping away from their skins, their limbs now outstretched beyond the imposed deformity of years bent down, broken voices arising in ever-strengthening howls and yelps and wails and laughter in harmony with the wind, a wind whose wild twisting pounding whooshing dancing rhythm now connected the present and the past in glorious triumph. And the lost gods were awakened by the sounds of the voices that had been silenced by the oppressors’ fears singing now in a clamorous symphony of spirits. The voices of the gods in silence and in her ear were ringing. And her face shown with grace and beauty and light and there was acceptance and peace in the land.
When I left the farm, I walked down the hill and through the swamp, and over the furrows of the back fields, through the yard of the white Knights, a name descended from a lineage and history of oppression and freedom that left two families living on the same land and with the same name. Helen Knight, with her white face and blond hair, had been a woman who had loved me as her own child, a person who I saw as a protector against the frightening, howling sounds of the night. I rounded the bend in the path through the woods and the far off bleating of a goat caused the memory of my lost goat to fleet across my mind, the mystery of his disappearance never to be solved. I listened to the chirping of the birds and bellowing of the frogs and heard in their music the charms and primal sounds of the ground and trees and animals that come together on the wind to create a symphony of beauty and longing and hope. This was the celebration of my farewell and I knew I was on my path to find a way to reveal and unravel my commitment to dreams deferred and awakening of new possibilities.
Pain, and rage and a dream of light are all enkindled by oppression’s essence and give us the charge to accept the as yet undiscovered force of enlightenment, possibility, and Biblical rightness of our journey. Hope is reborn along our journey through helplessness. Hope breeds faith through the process of our steps as we fall and rise up and overcome within the mystery. With the light of this faith we become fearless, we have courage in our struggles, we challenge accepted beliefs, we awaken new possibilities.
The full understanding of my great-grandmother’s life generated in me an intolerance of the highest order for oppression in any shape, form or situation. It created in me as a child the belief that to allow oneself to be stifled by the hideous oppression of prejudice against any individual, individuals or classes, was a betrayal of the essence, legacy, consciousness, and insights gained by the struggles she had survived and passed on to me in the tales she told me without bitterness or remorse, in the great tradition of enthusiasm born of oppression.
Oppression created a burning fire of insight in the child to transform the false legacy of helplessness, bitterness, fear and hopelessness and to reveal the true message and truth of the odyssey of this majestic person. Her message that was transported to me at this tender age was one of hope, great possibility, inspiration, a voracious curiosity to discover the full potential of power that was enkindled within me, the burning desire to be what I was meant to be.
This consciousness was born of oppression and crystalized by the fire of relentless hope. The bitterness of oppression had been seared away by the fire and with unbending faith, she handed me her essence so that I might live the completion of her dreams. As a young child, I embraced this massive gift of love with bounteous acceptance of new worlds, of great possibilities of vision, hope, curiosity, the fulfillment of deferred expectation and ever-longing new dreams. As I look back in life, this was an epic moment of one generation handing hope to another generation with the faith that with in this new generation lies the fulfillment of hope.
I came to commit myself to the charge that wherever helplessness exists I would work to uphold the possibility of hope because I heard with my young child’s ears, the sounds that arose from the dungeon of deep, psychological and physical abuse to her spirit and vibrated in the world as an expression which was like a phoenix ascending, gleaming with power, truth, hope, wisdom and vision before a young child.
These are my memories of the deep hours of night, standing before burning oak logs with the beautiful patterns of her quilt covering her tic and the silent rocking of her chair, occasionally hearing faraway sounds. There was peace, there was a sense of destiny in the child and there was acceptance.