The Social Perspective
The progress of industrial society has unfortunately required communities to forget our connectedness with all living things; otherwise the harm that has been done would not have been permitted. The resulting comfort and convenience of our daily lives in the developed world has further inured us to our connectedness, with great cost to the developing world. But the cost to the developed world has been equally damaging on a psychosocial level.
A sense of community depends on that same sense of connectedness, yet almost all our modern rituals for expressing this are mediated by commercial interests and therefore promote the concept of ‘doing’ and ‘having’ over ‘being.’ One can trace the psychological root of the current crisis facing humanity to a gross imbalance between the having/doing mode and being mode of human consciousness. ‘Just being’ is considered insufficient and uncomfortable because of an ever present sense of something lacking. The irony is that what is lacking is an awareness of our connectedness.
Theatr Cynefin works through the arts to create spaces within communities that remind people of this connectedness: the untrammelled joy of being alive. An awareness of which is sleeping within us. The medium through which this new awareness of an archaic wisdom, universal to all indigenous peoples, is brought about is through Context Oriented Theatre (COT).
The Practical Perspective
Participative Arts are artistic and creative activities which:
• engage and encourage communities to create together as opposed to consuming culture produced by others
• are humanizing and democratic in nature
Applied Participative Arts:
• involve participants in their own immediate individual experience
• enable participants to bring new awareness to their lives and rehearse changes
• aspires to create spaces where there is dialogue that is embodied and manifest through the total sensory and dynamic language of the arts
Intercultural Applied Participative Arts:
• celebrate cultural difference while transcending or subverting cultural barriers
• challenge participants not merely to tolerate or understand other cultures but to embrace the possibility of friendship between cultures in conflict
Context Oriented Intercultural Applied Participative Arts:
• draw attention to the context rather than the content of experience: that which is experiencing rather than that which is experienced.
Theatr Cynefin’s mission is to create a skills base for COT practitioners. Where new and creative methodologies can be developed that activate communities and bring about an orthogonal shift in our awareness of ourselves and our world so that “being” is seen to be the source of all doing and having and not the other way around.
The Ethical Perspective
To be present to and present…
“What if” is redundant. All there is is this.
Cynefin creates theatre that is about this moment and contrives only what is necessary to frame an event called ‘theatre’ to attract people called ‘audience’.
Any performances an audience might experience are secondary to what actually happens.
There is more drama in this moment than all that has or will ever happen on page or stage.
…shared moments in space and time…
There are only ever three characters in Cynefin’s productions: the actor, the audience and the moment.
There is only one play that Cynefin performs: the story of the apparent arising and falling of sensations that we interpret as these characters.
…where fear and mediocrity…
Cynefin does not do spectacle. Cynefin embraces ordinary being.
An aversion to uncertainty creates a tendency to channel our consciousness into a ‘mainstream’ groove that Aldous Huxley called ‘the ruts of ordinary perception’. This is a way of seeing, doing and being which is willfully constricted to what we know or think we know. But deep down most of us are numb with fear: terrified by the sense that the real meaning of our short lives is evading us. This double bind leads to a social collusion towards a perceptual regression to the mean and even the extraordinary over time becomes ordinary. Mediocrity has nothing to do with ordinary being and everything to do with being ordinary (while being afraid deep down of not being extraordinary).
…are transformed into awe and wonder…
Cynefin productions embrace the ordinary in circumstances that only appear to be extraordinary. Every day we wake up and step into a labyrinth. Cynefin only imitates the labyrinth in which we are always walking. Within this context the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
…and the inner and the outer…
Theatre is an expression of the illusion of separation. There is the audience, and there is the stage. There are protagonists and antagonists. There is character and plot. There are actors and props.
Life is an expression of the illusion of separation. There is the person inside and the world outside. There is the self and the other. There is cause and effect. There is object and subject.
The only difference between these two illusions is that the first is cause for entertainment the second is this mortal coil…until, that is, when the second illusion is seen to be no different from the first illusion. This is theatre as gnosis – comedy and tragedy…
We cannot know the first thing. This is because it is not a thing. It is…isness. We invite our audiences to embrace unknowing and to take the risk of falling awake to the mystery and miracle of being alive.