"Neoteny" is "remaining young," and it may be ironic that it is so little known because human evolution has been dominated by it. Humans have evolved to their relatively high state by retaining the immature characteristics of their ancestors. Humans are the most advanced of mammals--although a case could be made for the dolphins--because they seldom grow up. Behavioral traits such as curiosity about the world, flexibility of response, and playfulness are common to practically all young mammals but are usually rapidly lost with the onset of maturity in all but humans. Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.
This is a must-watch for anyone who is familiar with Del and his creation, the Harold. For the newer generation of improvisers, it is fascinating to hear him talk about the inception of the Harold, his dislike of the name, and what his goals are for improv actors within the piece.
According to Annarita Cuomo, writer for Il Golfo, a newspaper serving the Italian islands of Ischia and Procida, sugo alla puttanesca was invented in the 1950s by Sandro Petti, co-owner of Rancio Fellone, a famous Ischian restaurant and nightspot.
The moment of inspiration came, writes Cuomo, when near closing one evening, Petti found a group of hungry friends sitting at one of his tables. Petti was low on ingredients and told them he didn't have enough to make them a meal. They complained that it was late and they were hungry. "Facci una puttanata qualsiasi" or “make any kind of garbage,” they insisted. (In this usage, puttanata is a noun meaning something worthless or something easy to prepare even though it derives from the Italian word for whore, puttana.)
At the time, Petti had nothing more than four tomatoes, two olives and some capers: the basic ingredients for the sugo. “So I used them to make the sauce for the spaghetti,” Petti told Cuomo. Later, Petti included this dish on his menu as spaghetti alla puttanesca.
I find when one is limited to a certain number of ingredients (or a structure) some of the best improv comes out. If you are given a kitchen full of ingredients and someone says, "Cook me something," it can be overwhelming. But if you are limited to a few specific items, you become very creative. Your universe is more defined and your mind can visualize things easier. You only need take a few ingredients with you onto the stage to create a masterpiece.
Have you ever been so out of control, you don't even know who you are anymore? If you answer no, please forgive me, but I'm calling you on it.
There are times in our lives when we get so far away from who we truly are that we lose control. Demands of work, family, friends, our own inner dialogue, etc., all take part in leading us down a path of suffering and isolation.
There is hope. There's always hope.
Simply seeing our current reality for what it is is the necessary first step toward change. By being able to see the truth, we are able to assess a plan of steps that will lead us back home. Back to self.
Yes, there have been times where I've disowned someone for the behaviors they've displayed and I know I've been treated the same by others. That is the natural knee-jerk reaction we have as humans to this kind of behavior. It's simply in our primal wiring.
However, what does it take to show compassion? For as much as I may have disowned, it was painful to feel abandoned. What it took for me to find my way home was compassion for self. Without filling myself up first, I cannot look to the outside world and expect the same in return.
I now see that the compassion I allow to breed within myself is the same compassion that radiates and mirrors back to me from the outside. My choice to be the change I want to see has been the most powerful transformation I could have ever achieved. I honor your place on this journey and ask this of you as well as of myself:
Where is your compassion today?
I see the same behavior on stage, in audiences among improvisers and I will admit, within myself. We are critical of the shows we are watching and begin to radiate that same disowning energy. We let our ego drive us and believe its rants that we are better than those other people.
The truth is, we are the same. We all soar and fall brilliantly. Your joy is mine and your sorrow I share as well. It is my hope that we will all learn to come together to accept each other at the level of improviser and human we are in this moment. For it is all we truly have.