Dear participants in The Rehearsal
Season’s greetings from us. We’d like to share some thoughts with you before the year closes and give you some important new information on performance dates as we have approached by a new fringe festival in Fremantle.
About the process
In 2020 we faced, along with many other artists, the cancellation of a major project and an uncertain future. We felt a growing need to resist states of polarisation and fear and to envision what we could contribute as an authentic response to the multiple crises shaking the earth.
We felt that we could no longer remain spectators; it was essential for us to find a way as artists to act. We live in a society that considers art largely as entertainment, more a frivolous extra while the world of economics, technology, science and politics are the real shapers of the future. The meaning of culture, the meaning of making art has become lost. Even so, we are artists and have to find a way to respond.
The artist Josef Beuys, inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s writings on society, began to talk sixty years ago about social sculpture. He said every citizen is an artist and the role of art is to transform society. We wanted to link up with this change-making impulse and its imagination of the entire society as an artwork.
Where does one begin when the vision is so encompassing? The Rehearsal is a humble offering to a lineage of imaginers. It lays no claims other than to the imagination of the participants. This is our field of work, to use the scissors of the imagination to cut a new social fabric. We begin by forming a mini-community to rehearse human gestures, to get in touch with imaginations that might want to shape us, to tend ideas, and to play. As directors, we bring the content and guide the rehearsal process, aiming to draw forth the strength of each participant.
We will learn to move together, sensing the spaces in between. We will learn how to ‘presence’ before we act and to infuse the acting space with atmospheres that can really be felt. We will practice speaking simple dialogues, sometimes just one line each, allowing the words to charge the space. We will enact stories whose metaphorical content aligns with our purposes. We will rehearse what is inviolable, what is intrinsic to the human; we will magnify these qualities and sculpt our micro-community with them.
The Rehearsal is a type of activism that side-steps ideology (although it is not without ‘thoughts’ or vision). It is not ‘a performance’ in the usual sense of the word although it utilises the performance modes of acting, storytelling etc. It prioritises what exists in rehearsing— building human relationship, being in a field of learning, most importantly being in a process of becoming. In a rehearsal we are on the way to something, the form is not finished, we are striving to realise a form and remaining open to changes, to improvements, to inspirations.
After we have established artistic connectivity in our troupe we will then begin to invite ‘audiences’ to experience the process. In The Rehearsal the audience members will not be spectators but participate in everything we do. They will warm up with us, joining in the speech and movement exercises. At times their participation will be in a modified form, for example they may become the partner of a troupe member to speak a dialogue, or become part of a group where the troupe member leads.
We will find ways to incorporate more people and extend the sphere of connectivity. Our artistic process will carry us, we are meeting as artists and everyone who joins us is seen as an artist co-creating the social sculpture.
The artwork is an experiment. We don’t know everything about it yet. While it was born out of the welter of 2020 we believe all our work was leading to it. This project takes the concentrate of what we have done in the past and stirs it into what we still wish to do. It is a work that wants to connect and uplift people. It excites us immensely and we are grateful that the idea has also spoken to you.
The organisers of BRINK have approached us to see if we would be a feature of their fringe festival in late March 2021. BRINK is initiating this alternative festival as a response to world crises and as a dissent from the current funding of arts festivals by fossil fuel industries. BRINK are interested in the concept of our artwork not as a performance product but a process of community engagement with new ideas. They feel that the work embodies the spirit of change that is central to their brief.
We have agreed to have four Rehearsals open to the public on these dates in March:
Thursday 25th evening
Saturday 27th afternoon
Saturday 27th evening
Sunday 28th morning
Four of these dates are additional to what we have previously posted as work dates for the project. We realise that you may have other commitments at these times, but we are hoping that you may be able to jiggle your diary! Let us know if you are able to secure these dates. If some of you can’t make the extra BRINK performances we can probably cope, but it would be great to have as many of you as possible there for these public events. Also, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email works best for us and then we can ring you if needed, as we will be out of the office for part of January.
Jennifer and Horst