Prepare to be Surprised

I’ve been going to the theatre for 50 years I guess, and I still get a thrill from the feeling of being in a space a few moments before the show starts, as the lights fade, as the collective connected energy & expectation grows around the theatre, at the moment just before I hope to be enchanted, delighted, moved, amazed, upset, cheering or laughing. I try not to read reviews. I try to arrive as un-critical and open-for-anything as possible. I am, in the words of Harrison Owen the inventor of Open Space Technology, “Prepared to Be Surprised”.

Last night I was taken along to a piece about which I knew nothing, in a space I’d never been in Edinburgh, later than my normal bedtime, to see a show by the daughter of a friend of ours.  It started in the dark, with a single hanging body. The presence of the performer willed us into a sense of quiet stillness.  We, the Netflix, quick flick, audience of the future, were willed by silence not to turn away, not to turn off, not to check our phones.  It is too easy with the TV or film-on-demand to make instant judgements and not take our time. In theatre we are always invited to stay, to focus, to join in a longer journey with the creative team. We are invited to trust in the process.  I am glad I arrived. I am so glad I was in an open receptive mind and heart. And I am so glad I saw this dad’s daughters’ show. This is what I wrote quickly on Facebook:

“Rarely have I witnessed anything quite so assured, complete, powerful, sensual, naked, raw, beautiful and deep. If this had been a piece which had been in the repertoire of one of the great aerialists for 30 years I would not have been surprised. But it is a relatively new artist Zinnia Oberski daughter of proud dad Iddo Oberski who gave us this stunning piece. I can’t wait to see it again when it is picked up for its next life. Thank you Kath Burlinson for suggesting we popped in to see a show by the daughter of a mate.  Just to alert you to this talent/show Gabrielle Martin Struan Leslie Aislinn Mulligan Valerie Hager , my high flying friends.”

Now I am on the train reviewing applications from Russian composers and lyricists who have applied to join Eamonn O’Dwyer and I for a week of Musical Theatre Workshops on writing and collaboration in Perm. Every time I open an application or listen to a mp3 file I hope to be delighted – and in many cases I am.  I can’t wait to be in Perm at the end of the Month for this special Year of Music British Council opportunity. It looks, from the applicants, as though we will be working in Russian, Spanish, English and French and the universal language of Music.  Thank goodness we have an Interpreter.

And this weekend, in case there is anyone I know who is not already planning to be there, we have the annual celebration of surprise – Devoted and Disgruntled, a conference at the Battersea Arts Centre where anything that is important to you can be raised and will be addressed by you and others.  I hope to see many D&D regulars and many many people who are settling down in the Opening Circle at 11am on Saturday for the very first time.  If you are out of the Country you can follow everything, and even call virtual sessions. I know I will be talking about creativity in Scotland, teaching creative producing, and probably clothing optional theatre praxis…and a host of other things.

So now, train willing, I will rush headlong to Mountview to meet the Creative Producers who make up the 2019/20 cohort – we will explore International Collaboration,  Team building, Group dynamics, organisations, and (because I’ve been asked to focus on this) Royalty Pools – my favourite complex subject.  Now where is James Seabright’s excellent book on Producing…ahh fortunately in my rucksack. Turn to page 55.   Oh that’s surprising.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *