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 some focusing.
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
Look around 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.
Life 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?
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.
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 inherit..."
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
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.
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
And, so what do we look for? What are the signs? How will
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.
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
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.
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.
It's not difficult really. Just say you will. Drop
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.
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.
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. One was called BunnyJam
and the other Junebug.
Who said silliness couldn't be revolutionary too? Let me talk
to that guy.