THE SONIC CREATIVE Presents: An Interview with Ian Cherry, Actor, Musician, Writer & Yogi

How long have you been taking yoga? I tested the waters of yoga in college, and then did a week’s worth spending some time home, but only made it a three plus a week practice in July ’16, and have been doing anywhere from one to six classes a week ever since, three or four a week on average.

What do you love about yoga? I love the practice. Yoga is the practice of opening the window, going there every day or other day to keep it open. Otherwise, the window closes, and the mind becomes a stale vacuum of used thoughts, unable to respond beautifully in the present moment, life in the past or the future. The practice of yoga presents the present moment to the practicer. That’s why I try to attend as frequently as I can.

Does yoga help your creativity?  You bet! The thing about creativity, like yoga, is you have to show up for it. It’s very easy to love your imagination walking on the avenue, thinking about creativity, and another to show up for yourself, physically, at the cafe, or the studio, whatever form the workshop of one’s creativity takes place. If the artist is not working with a mind that is like an open window, then what are they working with? Perhaps something passionate, but in the past. How can the writer’s characters respond actively if the author is not pure, able to feel at their highest potential, open to laughs, sorrow, strangers? If not trained in the present moment, thoughts fly by and the author or artist is not tuned fast enough to catch them, and they become cool visuals in the mind, or clever sentences; but thinking is just thinking and doing is doing. That’s how it is with yoga. I believe the window of clarity and truth yoga provides lasts about twenty-four hours; separate meditation is requisite on days where yoga isn’t practiced. For the productive artist in “writing season” or someone doing a play or even just anyone in a relationship, doing yoga is essential to being your best version— the current one— and living in freshness, loving reality, responding to the world with truth, openness, and courage. This concept is in Chögyam Trungpa’s, Shambhala: the Sacred Path of The Warrior. These concepts, combined with practicing yoga, saved my mind, and lit a productive streak I have never experienced the likes of, which is still going. It rose naturally out of four months of rigorous yoga attendance, home meditation, quitting alcohol, and embracing unconditional love for existence and every single being, saying yes friends and whenever ego would get in the way, stepping right back into the yoga studio to push it back down and keep my heart and brain as fresh to others as possible. This is illustrated in detail in my novella thing. I don’t really know what to call it, but I remember every time sitting down to write, I thought, “What is true? What is true, now?”

What is your creative process? Writing: Show up for myself. Feel for what is right; whatever is true, in that moment.

If I am walking on the street, and a beautiful sentence flies across my mind like a shooting star, I accept that I will forget it, so I usually take out “notes” on my iphone, which is like my net, and catch it before it slips away.

Music: Lots of times, I’m riding my bike home from work when I find myself singing things that I like— I take my phone out and record them on the spot— the melodies, the key in most cases— and figure them out at the piano later. Usually those quick biking takes are thirty seconds, up to two and a half minutes, and never include a bridge.

What do you love about creating work? Do you love the process?  I love being surprised as the first reader of my work— laughing at something a character says, or really feeling fear in a situation, not knowing where the road is going to take any of them. That’s what I love about creating work. I’m showing up and watching. I do love my material! If I don’t love it, it doesn’t make it into my set or onto my page. And if it does, it won’t make it to the audience, because the editor and I will blast every unnecessary out of the way before it does. And yes, I love the process. I love the process more than dating. Right now, anyway.

What can get in the way of your creative process?  Not meditating or attending yoga is the fastest way to put creative output on queue. Other factors include: Alcohol. Ego. Smoking weed— not vaping, which is useful— but smoking. Not exercising. If I am watching too much TV, and getting too comfortable being a consumer and spectator, if I look at my habits, those moments usually include a lack of yoga/meditation/exercise.

What helps your creative process?  Caffeine + being activated (post-exercise) + yoga + meditation + bike rides +  a little vape sometimes + stillness with intention.

What is exciting to you about the creative world in New York? I love New York. All I know, is it’s where I need to be presently. 
 
What artists inspire you most?  Chuck Berry, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Mick Taylor, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Hamilton Leithauser, The Pixies, Dr. Dog, Father John Misty, Stephen King, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Baba Ram Dass, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the Sex Pistols. The entire cast of the Leftovers. 
 
Favorite Book?  Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa.
 
Favorite Movie? The Departed.
 
Favorite Photographer?  Kevin Carter (I’m playing an adaptation of his soul right now on stage).
 
Favorite Museum?  Brooklyn Museum.
 
Favorite color? Green.
 

List the projects you are working on: Projects I’m working on:

Actor in a short play called Vultures, based on real people, which will be the first piece in a program called a “Bricolage,” theatrical pieces of different natures that belong together, directed by Marcia Berry at the National Black Theatre of Harlem, running Wednesday July 12 through Sunday July 16th

 The occasional audition.

My day job, to which I commit to as if it were a broadway show, and I therefore count it as a project. I do my best every day, love my job, and care about it as if it were of equal importance to anything else I’m working on. That’s why it’s important to find a survival job one loves as an artist, and stay on that high performance level in every area of one’s life.

GEMINitcTV, a farce that spans several mediums, including music, short videos, a half-hour film/play, a live living room music broadcast, short stories, culminating in a live theatrical music event finale.

My second horror/comedy fiction novel.

Final Words?  Thank you so much. Much love and light and support to anyone who is reading this. 
 
INTERVIEW BY TODD HENRY

 

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