My Life in Art Reflections of a Theatre Junkie By Fayra Teeters
I first became obsessed with theatre at nine years old, growing up in the San Fernando Valley, where children’s theatre was on every street corner, much like latté stands. I justified the obsession with the notion that performing gave me the same feeling as praying. It’s what inspired actors call “Being in the Zone.” Isadora Duncan labeled it her “Divine Inspiration.” In Subud we acknowledge it as the latihan. Not every moment onstage is divinely inspired – actually, most of it is far from that open and vulnerable state, but whenever I was in the zone, I was receiving the latihan, long before I was officially opened in April 1969.
As I progressed in practicing the latihan, I realized I could apply my “receivings” to my work as a theatre artist: test on my own whether an upcoming audition would be right for me; ask to receive the “key” to portraying a specific character; or ask “what is the true message of the play I was preparing to direct?”
When I was falsely diagnosed with COPD, an incurable lung disorder, my main concern was that it would interfere with my ability to perform. During SICA testing at Menucha I asked “How is it when I perform using my own will-power?” and “How would God have me channel my creativity?” The difference was like night and day. Will-power required heavy force pushing the performance out, resulting in stress and a barrage of coughing. Channeling the creative energy was akin to “Dancing between the raindrops” – the cough was always possible, but I could dance around it, play with it even.
As it turned out, I didn’t have COPD at all, but an allergic reaction to mold, ironically acquired when I spent a summer and fall performing at an old Vaudeville theatre in Longview, WA where the mold was literally dripping off the walls backstage. If I could perform around the cough, why not be able to release it altogether? I shared these receivings with my naturopathic doctor, who supported me with homeothopic supplements. When my perceptive husband cleared our Portland house of all the mold, the cough went away.