Friday, January 25, 2013


One way or another I already know everything, and yet, I find this life beautiful and rich in meaning. At every moment.

Etty Hillesum


Hello Jon


If I ever became inexcusably arrogant enough to write my autobiography I would entitle it "Places." The few friends and acquaintances who have heard me say that have expressed the opinion that it isn't a good title. But I disagree (naturally).

The alternative titles others have come with for me display, I think, a gross misunderstanding and in some cases an unpleasant underestimation of me.

It has been suggested that I use the title of this blog, "Vagabond Journeys" but that title implies a life of adventures and discoveries still being lived, windmills still needing to be attacked.

Someone suggested "My Life In Art" but Constantine Stanislavski did a very good job with that title and I don't think I could match up.

One person even suggested as a title "The Actor Who Escaped Broadway." Now if that doesn't sound like a lolly-pop title I don't know what does.

No "Places" is the word. In the theatre "Places" is the last call you get from the Stage Manager after you've been given "Half Hour," "Fifteen" and "Five." "Places" means the performance is about to begin and if you're on at the beginning you'd better get your talented and highly gifted self to your place or the curtain will go up without you. When the show closes you don't hear that word again, until the next time. I don't know how many hundreds perhaps a thousand or so times I've heard that word in the 50 years of my career. In a very big way it has defined my lite.

When I was 4 years old my father died. 2 years later the family began a slow slide from a reasonable middle class life into poverty. From the age of 6 until I graduated from high school we moved 26 times and I don't even remember some of the places we lived. As a result of that itinerant childhood I never got into the habit of settling down somewhere and calling it home, or the opportunity. I also don't remember some of the places I've lived as an adult. I had a small meager hotel room in New York for 20 years but I seldom lived there. I lived with someone else or a theatre I was working for put me up in an apartment somewhere. But I do remember that some of those places hold ghosts of a former life, a record of events that formed and shaped me for good or not. An autobiography would have to name names, events and places.

I've been where I am now for almost a year having moved from a very uncomfortable environment of 10 years duration. This is by no means a home or a permanent situation. It's more like a clearing in the woods. But over the past decade or so I've discovered a different journey facing me with different places to explore. I awake from dreams and visions in the night to find a mind which has been used as a tea kettle, something in which to boil ideas. The mind is powerful, of course, to imagine, plan, create and make things happen. But released from such menial obligations it leads me to mountains that must be climbed, seas to be crossed, jewels to be dug out of its own ground and stars to be observed shining in its own night sky. I listen for the rhythms of things that exist in space and wait to see the bubbling source of agelessness. Those are the Places my heart sings to know.

Let another write of me if they choose. My life is written in the disappearing parchments of time.


Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up



Jon said...

When you first mentioned writing your autobiography (which is a fantastic idea) I thought that a suitable title would be "Vagabond Journeys". After having explained why you want to call it "Places", however, I fully agree with your decision.

Your life has been so incredibly fascinating that it deserves to be documented in a book. You should include this blog post as an introduction to the book.

By the way, I've read "My Life In Art" by Stanislavski, but it was so long ago that I hardly remember it.

Geo. said...

DB., The anecdotal glimpses you've furnished into your life, by way of making a point or illustrating a principle, have been fascinating. You don't need to remember every apartment you've lived in. I've tried very hard to forget some of mine. As for exposition and life-lessons, I think you have the routine nailed.

Beth said...

Beautifully written, Dana, and I totally "get" your title!