Tenth weekly sum of daily notes, in the run-up to Silence: 2014, a cross-border artistic witness. See the Soulographie site (soulographie dot org) for the day-to-day.
Silence: December 2014.
Artists worldwide to practice silence through the month as they will, in different ways, to deepen global contemplative capacity cross-culturally, and demonstrate mass solidarity.
Some notes from an event at RISD… Pell Lecture hosted by Arlene Goldbard, with the great Sokeo Ross and others… Three of us were given six minutes each to say a few things…
Food and Shelter
Patience and Felony
Food and Shelter
Some good soup kitchens I’ve worked at – Agape Café (IC), St. Anthony’s (SF), Mathewson
All have theaters, all have beds.
I began to see this confluence often enough that it seemed more than accidental.
I like specialized theaters, but they are collapsing (or poised for change; changing). They are not integrated at an architectural level with the care of the body or the flow of daily life. It is harder and harder to fill them, so they’re looking to modify their shapes.
Models: New Dramatists; La MaMa; potentially Mathewson. I’d like to see a national network of these spaces
Patience and Felony
I write about trauma around violence, especially genocide. To be hopeful, the esthetic requires open space to promote a sense of the possibility of navigation, if even among ruins, and broken time – time broken through in resistance to frozen time, which damage can promote.
This productive breakdown and life-in-the-ruins is associated in my mind and practice with transgression. Time and space are money, but can be stolen, occupied, captured and cracked. I’m drawn to unusual spaces, with a sense of the out of bounds. Of the two thieves on the hill, one was a good thief; he recognized heaven as out-of-bounds; he knew he had to allow himself to be stolen – Christ comes like a thief in the night. The bad thief is not a bad person, but a bad thief – he didn’t understand the premise of his occupation, which was to critique ownership – even his own.
B. Five Actions for Providence
Avignon by 2020
7 Downcity Spaces
Communication with and among the schools
Give Dorothy Jungels, Bert Crenca, Don King and Erminio Pinque lots of money. They’re artists in residence for 5 years. They make work; perform it downcity and tour it across Providence. Rhode island style, we treat ourselves like Texas, we develop the habit of touring, but at our scale – a mile at a time. The kabal is responsible for making their own work, promoting the work of each other, and agitating conversation between art workers.
Avingnon by 2020
Let’s build on momentum around an annual street-performance festival and promote ourselves as a global in this area. This seems in line with our urban personality. Let’s keep what’s going alive, and live more.
There’s the stage at AS220, unjuried and democratic access.
There’s 95 Empire, focused on residencies and experiment.
Assist in the renovation of Mathewson St.’s 4th floor space, which is working now as a consortium of art-for-social-change workers.
Assist in the renovation of Roots – a producer/presenter of new works.
Then two mid-sized theaters, which could be homes for new companies, existing companies, or consortia of companies, such as Gamm, Second Story, the Wilbury group… So as not to poach, this could be a second home or a place to extend runs.
(Trinity is our state theater and should be encouraged in the directions its taking regarding civic dialogue and service.)
Increase the sense of scene by adding genuinely mixed income, the preservation and expansion of services, a grocery store, and better transit. Crucially, there needs to be a place for more-than-recreational public assembly: ritual and protest. Conflicted – busses…
Communication With and Among the Schools
That Brown, RISD, RIC, URI, J&W and whoever else can come aboard continue to reach out to each other and into the community. On the table: a Design MA that woud more formally link Bronw and RISD (has been tried before, but the timing looks right) and a 4th year for the MFA students, where they would be enabled to stay a year beyond their degree, feeding energy into public performance.
Working through Helen Nicholson’s fine book, Applied Drama – The Gift of Theater. Quotations over the next few days will come from this.
At one time, practice was considered an application of theory, a consequence; at other times, it had an opposite sense and it was thought to inspire theory, to be indispensible for future theoretical forms… The relationships between theory and practice are far more partial and fragmentary. Practice is a set of relays from one theoretical point to another, and theory is a relay from one practice to another. No theory can develop without eventually encountering a wall, and practice is necessary for piercing this wall.
Silence is an embodied practice, relating theories of manifestation and outcome across not-knowing and the creative-unformed.
From Helen Nicholson’s Applied Drama – The Gift of Theater
Chantal Mouffe is concerned to develop a theory of participant citizenship that does not regard it simply as a legal status with little impact on the everyday lives of law-abiding citizens, but as an identity. She argues in favor of an ‘embodied citizenship in which individuals act as citizens within a wider framework of personal, political and ethical associations… Mouffe’s vision of radical democratic citizenship acknowledges that identity is built on collective forms of identification, common struggles, shared principles and dependent social networks which are not simply enshrined in law, but extend to all aspects of social life.
A reason for making Silence 2014 a mass action: so that contemplation is performed as a civic action.
Both Philip Taylor and James Thompson stressed the role that drama might play in opening cultural assumptions for critical scrutiny, providing an opportunity for participants to work ‘towards ambiguous or incomplete moments’ (Taylor) and, in Thompson’s terms, offering a ‘break with certainty’, enabling participants to think, feel and see things differently. Active and creative participation in performance practices that dislodge fixed and uneven boundaries between ‘self’ and ‘other’ is, in many ways, the subject of this book.
We choose silence as a tactic for mass-action because it breaks the most, is the most broken, and the least certain. It will be a lot of work.
[In distinguishing performance studies from performance management…] Performance management’s drive for efficiency and productivity has appropriated Friere’s argument that an oppressive society naturalises characteristics such as laziness and ignorance, and turned them into a system which supports a capitalist economy. Personal qualities such as honesty and integrity are not [treated as] values in themselves, but measures of ‘success’ and ‘positive results’, which will increase productivity.
The emphasis on marginality in drama education and applied drama has not, by and large, taken account of the potential slippage of liminality into conservatism, or of how quickly theater practices and pedagogies once regarded as ‘alternative’ become absorbed into the mainstream.
‘How can performance, in being always implicated in the dominant, avoid replicating the values of the dominant?’ – Baz Kershaw
Silence is difficult to buy and sell; silencing is a tool of domination, but our silence is based as an optional contemplative invitation…
Reminded daily of the option to bring joy to the stress of accomplishment and problem solving… by shifting, for example to what Friere calls problem posing. A problem! What an opportunity for research into the powers of peace! Not that we should seek out thorns, but they (sometimes) point a way to blackberries.
But not to be too nutty about joy. I’m thinking of joy as an availability to blessing, with blessing being: an intimacy with creation. None of this suggests happiness; joy is more raw – a permeability that can be risky or painful…