Friday, March 18, 2011
anger does not open the reluctant heart
(photo by Katherine Fleitas of Nohayquiensepa)
I was interviewed yesterday by Mary Ito from CBC's Saturday morning show, Fresh Air. She asked me about something I wrote on this blog, one or two entries ago, about what I meant when I said that we try to move towards beauty and not anger.
First thought: someone reads this blog?
Second thought: I was hesitant to respond - nerves probably. And the trick of the question is that it makes me talk about things that I get angry about when I start talking about them: the way big money moves around the world, influencing events in ways that are fundamentally autocratic. The way our country has slipped into a position where it supports firms that are doing really nasty things in communities across the globe.
(For more on that, check out www.miningwatch.ca )
So when I talk about it I get angry. Creating performance gives us the chance to look at it twice, to craft a response in movement and image that conveys things in a way that is open to the viewer's interpretation. And if it is beautiful, as we hope it is, it can possibly touch the heart of someone who would be unmoved by our anger. It is a catharsis. A return to life after seeing awful things.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Silenced voices. One of the recurring images in our show - Nohayquiensepa (No one knows) is the idea of telling someone else's story. Or telling a story about them. You like to think: for them.
But beside that there is the idea that some people cannot safely tell their stories - that they need someone else to be their voice. Whether it is distance from the place where decisions are made, or personal risk is speaking out - some things must be said, but by others.
I can't express some things with words - so I got some people to help me put this play / dance piece / video installation together. And I think the lovely outcome is that this piece says a lot without many words at all.
I've been told we aren't pushing the issues hard enough - that here in Toronto people won't get all the information about abuses by Canadian mining companies in Latin America, for instance, or by various armed factions in Colombia. Well, that's true - they won't get a lot of hard information in the show. But they get enough to feel the need to know more. This isn't - can't be - a documentary. The medium we are discovering doesn't do that as well as film. But to get people to care? -- I think we can do that, which is often harder than to give them a straight up, factual brief on a pressing issue...
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
loading into the theatre next week
It amazes me that I am exhausted, way behind on everything I need to do for anything that is mine to do, and yet feel myself compelled to put up this picture and say a few words about it. As if blogging were a primal instinct like eating or mating.
I am a lucky man. I have such cool people giving their all to this process - and it has been a weird, let's-invent-a-way-of-working-none-of-us-has-ever-done-before adventure. Because that's what this is: a collective discovery, no scripts, just design and action and movement coming together in a series of passes as something takes shape underneath us that we slowly recognize better, and bring that recognition back into the next go-round. We are evolving this show.
if you reading this I hope you get to see it: March 13-27, 2011 at the Theatre Centre in Toronto. (416 538-0988).
If you don't see it, oh well. more updates here soon.
The other challenge with this piece is the importance of the issues at stake here: that after 50 years people outside the major cities of Colombia (and even in them) are not safe from large-scale violence. And our country is taking advantage of that instability to promote our businesses, making it profitable for some to work to maintain the status quo there. The Canadian mining and petroleum industries are at the forefront of a modern gold rush in Latin America, and they don't take no for an answer when the local population has reservations. Furthermore, our government has actively supported this with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to encourage legislative reforms, loans, and insurance guarantees to these companies. And we feel lucky to get $15000 from the Canada Council to put on a play that tries to raise the human spirit.
Making a gorgeous performance piece feels like a ridiculous excercise sometimes, when you think about what 80% of the people in this world have to go through to make a modest living. But by going towards beauty, versus anger, and focusing our gaze on the human issues, versus polemics, I hope we can play a small role in a larger struggle against the ugly destructive side of our way of life in Canada.
and that's as close to a rant as I'll get in public. By me a beer for the personal version. or come to the show.