We can ‘do’ theatre, but what does it mean to ‘be’ theatre?

Convener(s): Iwan Brioc

Participants: Ros, Adrian, Rod, Roddy, Richard, Janna 

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

 Wide ranging discussion, transient group dynamic (apart from convener) who took no notes and is now trying to recall conversations. 

  1. Dramaturge Augusto Boal considers theatre to be not only something we make but something we ‘are’. The capacity to remember the past, project into the future and imagine ourselves to be other than we are being qualities that separate us from other animals. The cat might want to be in more theatre, but it doesn’t really know when it’s on stage.      
  2. If we are theatre and by extension all the world’s a stage, how might this awareness change the way that we live our lives and relate to others Might our work in making theatre involve communicating and bringing about this awareness in others?
  3. Certainly, theatre has the ability to transform people’s lives – their perception of themselves and their role on the world stage. This can happen through participation in theatre and on rare occasions for audiences too.
  4. Can the theatre experience bring about a permanent neurological change in people? Some research being done by psychologists about the effect of peak emotions through drama on formation of neural networks.
  5. What is it that brings about the kind of theatre that creates this altered awareness? Passion in the artist is instrumental. Art created for the sake of ‘doing’ something just doesn’t cut it. Neither does using the stage for the ‘demonstration’ of skill.       Although there is an element of pretence, honesty communicated is also essential.
  6. For the performer repetition is an element – experiences of flow states, often when hung over!
  7. Spiral dynamic is a model for changes in consciousness where one can move up the spiral towards more awareness of others and altruistic instincts, or down towards basic survival instinct.       Does theatre have a role to ‘kick’ people up the spiral and how does that sit morally? Seems imperative in the light of world events to at least orient towards higher instincts (as opposed to most populist TV and Film at the moment).
  8. Also talked about fine art and performance, the Mona Lisa, Punch Drunk’s ‘Faust’…is it theatre? What is theatre? Go to point 1…