The Art of Reading Plays and Training Your Brain

The Art of Reading Plays and Training Your Brain

Did you have to read Romeo and Juliet in high school? Of course you did. We all did. Maybe you also read Macbeth or Hamlet. Perhaps if you had a really great high school English teacher, you might even have taken on one of Shakespeare’s comedies, like Twelfth Night, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Do you remember studying that play as a positive or a negative experience? Do you remember it at all?

I was one of the rare souls blessed to have an incredible high school English teacher (well, I had him twice and he was phenomenal… the other years were… unfortunate). In his class, I delighted in reading plays. He was so methodical in teaching them – making sure we actually understood every innuendo, every double entendre, every instance of foreshadowing, metaphor, and symbolism. Those classes were very formative for me, not only because I developed a love of literature through his teaching, but because I came to understand how learning slower and more deeply results in a way different type of knowledge than quick memorization. 

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Why Musical Theatre Can Make You Feel Seen, Even as an Adult

Why Musical Theatre Can Make You Feel Seen, Even as an Adult

As many of you know, I spent a couple years working at a big corporation. When I first started there, I had a classic “new MBA”-type job – lots of spreadsheets, lots of research, and lots of time in a cubicle with my headphones on. I loved the job, especially coming off the crush of doing my law degree and MBA concurrently. I adored those long hours drinking office coffee, trying to not be terrible at Excel, and generally enjoying the fact that I didn’t have 400 pages of cases to brief at a time.

But what I really, truly loved about that time was the musical Hamilton…

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Understanding the Old to Appreciate the New

Understanding the Old to Appreciate the New

There’s a really interesting movement happening right now in university musicology classes (that’s the study of music history, music making, and music in general). In fact, I’m told, it’s happening across a lot of disciplines. Remember your “Intro to…” classes in university? Maybe you took “Introduction to French Poetry”, or “Introduction to American Politics.” So long as the topic was in the humanities, I bet dollars to donuts your class was at least largely taught in chronological order. I.e., “let’s start with the Roman Empire and work our way forward.” Well, apparently, this is falling by the wayside…

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The Three Types of Knowledge You Need to be a Fan of the Arts

The Three Types of Knowledge You Need to be a Fan of the Arts

So… I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I’m so pumped to teach you how to love the fine arts more than you ever knew you could. The bad news is that you have to put in the work to get there.

Sorry! (And sorry for the “sorry” – I’m Canadian, I can’t help it.) The fine arts take time to understand. Sure, there are lots of effortless ways to start being a fan of the arts, and I love to share those here and through social media. That stuff is gold, for sure. But to get to the real juiciness that is loving the arts, you’re going to have to put in some effort.

To my mind, at least, that’s a good thing. A lot of things that are quick and easy to understand and derive pleasure from are shallow. They’re not the interests, hobbies, and passions that sustain you and colour your whole life; instead, they’re reality TV and snack food (which have their time and place, but man cannot live on Love Island and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos alone).

So, what exactly do you need to learn before you can truly appreciate the fine arts? Three things. For each of the fine arts – to be a true fan – you need to develop three areas of knowledge…

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The Biggest Skill Non-Performers Can Learn From Performing Artists

The Biggest Skill Non-Performers Can Learn From Performing Artists

I’m currently reading an incredible book about, in essence, releasing the ego and stopping the voice in your head from messing everything up. It’s called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, by Joe Dispenza (the bleakest title ever, I know), and it is extremely woo woo, but extremely good. And it’s got me thinking about performing artists, and the biggest skill everyone could learn from them.

Dispenza’s work is essentially about visualizing the type of person you want to be in such vivid detail that you feel it in your body. To do this, one of the essential skills you need to learn is how to be master over your thoughts and quiet down that voice in your head that talks to you all day...

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