Some thoughts from yesterday; missing notes from two tables! Will retrieve.
Apt to our first meeting, the lines that we chose to address, and the peace we examined as an ideal, were glossed in light of the ethics of our practice – we looked chiefly at where we’re coming from, rather than mapping a plan for where to go next…
M. Rukyeyser – the world is made of stories. (How an atom is a narrative, in motion…).
Tying to ideas of Seder and homeland: home (per Biblical narrative) is not a place free from problems; a place whose problems you may choose to stay with.
We moved through the following, at four separate tables of eight or so:
Who are you, and what brought you to your work?
What are you currently working on?
What are the obstacles and enhancements to your work?
What can this room do to advance our common goals?
To make changes, be available to change – utter letting go, even of your capacity to serve, certainly of your artistic/service discipline. Co-production of new languages. Listening; what am I supposed to do next? Where can I serve? And also – what may be done to me? What need of my own can I make available?
Planning = considering how you will make decisions, vs. making the decisions and imposing.
Examine essential power structures: We are deformed by manifest and also unexamined authority. Even in the performing of “service” – with all best intentions we can impose dominance. “A just peace can be built only if we can see ourselves in the other.”
Diversity; poetic language allows for paradox. But not necessarily the paradox of despair – a paradox that’s a deadlock (the freeze-out of good and evil), but may be dynamic – a paradox that invites seeing.
A two-step: We write a play “for” someone, who doesn’t need it or rejects it. On the one hand, a failure. On the other hand, a play from a point of view doesn’t need to return to that point of view to have impact – perhaps you have helped that person give a burdensome story away.
Taking something from someone and using it feels dangerous. People’s stories are sacred. We have an obligation to treat people’s stories with respect – they are not a commodity. (A line we will cross – remove money from our equation? But also emotional commerce – looking for a net emotional gain for ourselves in the process…).
Much art is violent… and some has to be. Peace isn’t the absence of conflict, it is a place where oppositions can not only coexist, but thrive.
“Push back on the default logic.” False specialization. “Avoid condemning the victim to disciplinarity” (inappropriately foregrounded as a “spokesperson”) – forcing the survivor to become a specialist in despair, on our behalf.
To be incomplete is our delight.
“Rational modalities are failing. Because they don’t touch people where they need to connect.”
There’s a problem (in Theater of Place… and theater for social change at large) of reinventing the wheel. We are less interested in the serial production of objects than in the making of a movement. Movement implies mortality. Mortality begs hospitality.
So many obstacles are gone, so many obstacles remain – among them, my own fatigue.
Proposal: that theater be presented in increasingly personal places – in homes, figurative but also literal, where the stakes are close to the body/mortal (age, trauma). Serve food, exchange needles… Personal especially at that moment when the personal gives over to the plural. To move from a private place to social. Caution – the social pace can become corporatized – a separate corporate person – re-privatized, a lonely concentration of private property.
Create collectives that themselves are personal and mortal – collapsing and recreating regularly; disappearing altogether.
What would it cost you to give up the word “theater” in your practice? What would it cost you to allow what we call theater into your practice? So a Playwright is now called, e.g. an Urban Planner, or a Mediator? I am performing Conflict Engagement… Or – a Lawyer is now called a Playwright? (Disciplinary lines among the chief lines we need to cross/address?)
Invitation leads to amazement – move in response to a call, and move others by making an open space (Todd Lester’s freedimensional as a theater – the offer of space to artists at risk; “unleashing underused resources”).