How can we use the Power Of Now more consciously in our performance practice?  (Power of Now is a book by Eckhart Tolle)

Convener(s): Jenni Roditi 

Participants: Jenni Roditi  (some of the time) Drew Davies, Nenla Hattaka, Caroline Pearce, John Hale, Kath Burlinson, Peta Lily, Stevo Vitale.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Similar to the discussion about what can we brings from the spirit of the 60’s into theatre today I am reminded of Peter Brooks Empty Space echoing into this room and today with this Open Space. This meeting IS theatre. All our sharings ARE improvisations. Open Space is the Theatre of the Now.

Drew’s show CHAV SCUM KILLS GOD started off about anger and conflict but rapidly became a piece about surrender and universality. Is this something that doesn’t actually engage and work in the theatre? Reviews varied from 5 star to 1 star. IS ‘beingness’ engaging? Can we get empathy from just being? Jenni says if we look at classical theatre and music in the in the East we see a tradition that is rooted in devotion, to the spirit, to the now – and often drawing in body work such as YOGA, TAI CHI etc. Being present, says John is a great performative aspect. Audiences want to experience being present. Hair rising on the back of neck. Simple actions on stage, like opening a box, can have a wonderful timeless quality. Mundane rituals on stage like housework can take on an entrancing power. Awareness is raised. Communes in the 60’s did things like one movement over and over again for three weeks to see how it felt, (like the Siddhi’s in India who stand on one leg for 20 years!) Then after 3 weeks they move onto another movement to see how that is. Presence in the theatre can be found particularly in comedy improvisation and physical theatre, but also in authentic acting. Structured improvisation is a way of really working in the Power of Now.

Audiences can come to a point of one mind when the energy of presence is really created. But then not only one mind but each individual in the audience can become aware of their own viewing patterns. It’s all about opening potential in public places for people. Sometimes it can go dreadfully wrong and then it can be hard to cope. It’s very up and down night by night as to whether you get feel you are in the now. Maybe it’s not about judging your whole overall performance but staying with your experience moment by moment? Practice is the key. Some actors can be really in the moment on stage and off stage are really out of it!  Audiences can generate awareness simply by the group energy but also when confronted with something that is genuine in the moment it can create resistance as it can be confronting! It can bring up anger when the truth of the moment is really strongly felt. The Pain Body (see Eckharts book) can provide the basis for interesting theatre –as it has for centuries, but there is something beyond the duality of conflict as the basis of drama… and that quality does generate presence and enables us to see the fallibility and amazingness of our human condition and this is perhaps one of the futures for theatre and music-theatre.

See the Matrix, see American Beauty as examples of this Nowness. Kath’s show the Mother’s Bones created from Improv. Wordless piece about 3 generations of women. About archetypes of women’s experience including taboos such as death/blood. As a performer Kath opened herself to the collective energies to flow through her. As a performer and as a person she is interested in always finding experiences that taken her deeper into the unknown.

John says sometime he’s present for reasons he doesn’t understand. For Kath performance practice and spiritual practice is the same thing. The company Present Attempts – uses structured improvisations and simple frameworks out of which comes spontaneous theatre. All theatre is surely about one thing: how can we be more present? And WHY do we resist that? So much!!

How do we work with Tolle’s experience of SURRENDER and still get up in the morning? Theatre is about illuminating the human condition – that’s why we get up in the morning. Can we heal a sick society through theatre? Yes because art is about getting people to experience their experience! If we can get an audience below their pain body – below their illusions, then we can create Transformational Theatre. Theatre can offer people a chance to connect with their deepest selves as it can offer a blueprint to the unconscious when we see the truth of the Now we won’t forget that on the level of the unconscious as it remains vividly imprinted on us, beyond time…..

Jenni Roditi. 11.01. 09