Witnessing theatre as education

by Mhairi MacInnes | 1 January 2017

writing down these Polish memories has helped me understand the development of my own theatre work

I have always been a friend of silence. The growing silence in a conversation with a stranger that some feel awkward reveals whether I have found someone new to coexist next to simply, without words. John Cage’s book of the same name was a powerful influence during my years studying music; he taught me to see the spaces between the words. Read any of his work and you will understand what I mean.

“It is the silence between the notes that makes the music; it is the space between the bars that cages the tiger.”

The first half of this Zen saying has been attributed to numerous composers throughout the ages. The second half could be used by creativity gurus to demonstrate how ideas flow because of the limitations we impose, the tiger in this case being the ferocious idea.

How many names do you remember from your ISTA ensemble five years ago? It’s not surprising if you can’t. You haven’t asked your brain to rehearse, recall and remember them because you didn’t need to. At the ISTA TaPS in Chiang Mai last October I wanted to experiment with an unpredictable opening. It’s usually an immediate goal to make students feel comfortable, have fun and relax in a group of strangers.

Normally at ISTA events we play at least one name game. It’s always a challenge and a delight to remember and use the names of all the participants in the room as quickly as possible. The information goes into our short term memory – for most of the students this is probably the same.

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