as a Sword/ Theater as Life
is brief and life is long. It is easy sometimes to assume, particularly
in the face of recent events, that actions taken in the name
of BEAUTY AND PLEASURE are somehow inconsequential.
They are not. They are rather essential. We need them desperately.
We need them now. And, we need them always.
need art so that we might do important things, such as RAISING
HOPE where there is none. We need its inspiration so that we
might be able to transform reality through ACTS OF MAGIC like
raising the SPIRITS OF THE DEAD to inspire the hearts and minds
of the living, or reinventing the very MYTHOLOGIES by which
we live and dream.
have the power to move mountains in the name of love. To do
this we must release our art and our theater into the world.
We must begin to direct our actions to have a greater effect
on the common good. To put it in active terms, we must DISAVOW
fear and prejudice. We must CELEBRATE
the Earth and all of its peoples. We must STAND
for what we believe in. Achieving such goals might require us
to turn to some seldom used but ancient weapons in the theatrical
arsenal; spirit possession, ritual transformation and poetic
terrorism too. To do that will require
I am not
using the term "theater" here in any conventional
sense. I am rather talking about building and extending the
range of creative activity that already exists all around us.
Everyday I watch more INTERESTING PEOPLE and more UNBELIEVABLE
SHIT parade before me than I could ever dream of putting on
a stage. We are drowning in a sea of talent.
It's time we started swimming. As I see it, reality has
blown the doors off the theater and we are back on the streets
again. It's commedia time all over again.
you. The world stage is becoming populated with an inordinate
number of incredible and beautiful beings. In the face of such
cultural activity (formerly known as art), great numbers of
us are being reborn as FREAKS of a wholly different order. We
are SHEDDING THE WEIGHT OF OUR PASTS faster than 'isms can build
new ones. We are picking up and putting down MASKS faster than
data packets stream. We are as INSEPARABLE from the network
as we are from each other and we are ALL MELTING together all
kinds of art, media and life experience into one great river
of orchestrated chaos. We are consuming more of the UNKNOWN
than ever before, and more and more of us are finding that perfectly
to our liking.
Of course, there are dangers
inherent in this free-flying approach; rootlessness, alienation,
obsession, despair, - but hey, that's the price you pay for
living in the LAND OF YOUR DREAMS.
artists - that's what we have become and we do what
we do in the name of SELF-EXPRESSION. It's comes down to that
- down to theatricalizing experience to make ourselves more
TRANSPARENT TO OURSELVES, to others and to the world at large.
More than ever, it's about TRANSFORMATION and COLLABORATION.
And it's about pulling DIVERSE STREAMS of ideas and people together
into a unified and celebratory whole. Now, if that doesn't qualify
as THEATER, then I don't
know what does.
It's a NEW THING you see,
but it's also an old thing too. It goes right back to the roots
of theater; to the Dionysian festivals and to the Eleusian Mysteries,
to ritual dancing and drumming, to spirit possessions, to direct
contact with the gods. Theater for the rest of us. Here today
for the making. And as hard as it might be to believe, it's
also POLITICAL theater, in that it's a theater of LIFESTYLE
and deeply intrinsic to the people who make it.
So on one
side, we've got art - this marvelous revival of the theater
in a very pure and innocent state. And on the other side, we
have LIFE, with all its staggering
confusions and sufferings made far too real for us all this
past week. And as if that weren't dangerous enough, to stretch
it beyond belief, we've got the visionmeister himself, Mr. George
W. at the wheel of the warship of global capitalism trying to
steer it through the straits of Armageddon. Leadership does
not necessarily require poetic thinking, but in times of great
change, good leaders must know how to tap into a people's need
for MYTHOLOGICAL renewal. Can we expect that from Mr. Bush?
My fear is that he has vacuum-sealed himself into a view of
the future built on replicating the sad mistakes of the past
- American as it was, not as it will be. Like
it or not, it is to ourselves that we must look for leadership
into the future. We do it already with people we love.
Now, it's time to do it with people we don't even know.
So, what are the steps? How do we bring our precious little
dreams into reality?
The first thing we must do is NOT
UNDERVALUE OUR DREAMS or think them insignificant. We must cast
aside some of the sensitive person's insecurities, and live
LARGE in our bodies.
There is NO THEATER WITHOUT THE
BODY. There is no art without the body. There is NO IMAGINATION
WITHOUT THE TESTIMONY OF THE SENSES. The
body is the theater, ladies and gentlemen; this is
the house, the hero, the villain, the beast, the heat, the flower,
the tower, the temple, the palace ... the great globe itself
- as Shakespeare would say - and "ye all which it shall
Theater is this wondrous REFLECTION
OF LIFE that allows us not only to view, but also to reshape
in real time the collected foolishness and wisdom of all of
us who daily breathe in and out the air of life and the dust
of death. Believe in your body.
Will we be tested? Of course, we will. We must fight for
We must say ART
IS WHAT WE DO WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS TELLING US WHAT TO DO,
so now, we shall speak our truth. This is the big TA-DA! We
must try not be afraid - neither of criticism nor even of death.
We have worked too long and hard to attain these kinds of freedoms
to give them up without a fight.
And we should not
forget THOSE WHO WENT BEFORE US and the part they played as
well. The late William Burroughs
said of the late Allen Ginsberg,
and I think it applies to the generous heart in all of us, "He
was a pioneer of openness and a lifelong model of candor. He
stood for freedom of expression and for coming out of all
the closets long before others did. He has influence because
he said what he believed." That's a fitting epitaph for
any of us to try and live up to. Believe
in your history.
And, so what do we look for? What are the signs? How will
We must step forward and vow to
make at least some of those dreams come true. If we choose to
be, we are all a part of a GREAT WORLD CIRCUS now; an IMPROMPTU
AND COLLECTIVE ANALOG AND DIGITAL ART FORM that is being created
as we speak.
With practice and with the support
of like-minded spirits, this GROWING HOST of participatory artists/clowns/
technologists and angels, if you will, are being pulled towards
some mysterious magnetic pole.
And I am being pulled along as
well, and so are many of you. FOR SUCH PEOPLE as we, for those
of us who seek TRANSFORMATION
through art and not simply entertainment, life and imagination
grow increasingly inseparable.
The more we look, the more we see
just how relative the truth is, and how much of it there is
yet to find, if only we can work our way past the mountain of
opinions, postures and prohibitions, and let ourselves as Frank
Zappa suggested 30 some years ago, just "freak
out!" It's O.K. It's a good thing. It's what we need
to do. Believe in yourself.
not difficult really. Just
say you will.
some email to friends. Have them over next Sunday for a little
tan your titties party. Shoot some video. Someone you know says
funny stuff. Someone else makes cool music. So good, so get
together. FORM A PARTICIPATORY PARADIGM.
Activate yourselves! Make your costumes. Share your skills.
Get to really KNOW each other. Meet once every two weeks, bring
a pot luck and do something. - set a date - TAKE
THE PARTY PUBLIC.
Borrow some LCD
projectors from work and project your video onto fabric and
white walls. Have some fun, laugh, dance, rap, play - that's
all creative activity. Who knows what might result? Perhaps,
you'll find yourself one day there on the stage, in the midst
of some great life-changing piece of
theater. As my friend Holcomb says, "I know,
I know, but you never know." I wouldn't put it past us.
We have the time
and we have nothing to make with it but good honest mistakes.
I can only suggest we make them quickly and with some measure
of style. I leave you now with an invitation to check out a
few short video documents of two recent theatrical parties that
our little art collective DISH
threw this past April and June. Check out the Videos on BunnyJam.com.
Who said silliness couldn't be revolutionary too? Let me talk
to that guy.