• Dr Margi Brown Ash

"When I look at you I see you are my teacher"

For the last two weeks I have been working with the acting students at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane and we have been teaching each other. Yesterday was our last day together for a while. They head into their training with vigour and expectation while I head to Finland to begin my new work. We both leave enriched... our students are our teachers. Deborah Hay and Margaret Cameron, two wonderful theatre makers and mentors, used to say many times through a workshop "What if, when I look at you, you are my teacher?" I use this expression often and it seems to move the artist away from judgement and closer to curiosity, a crucial element of the creative process.

I introduced the students to RICC:it is a mouthful...Relational Impulse Cultural Collaborative Method...a method that has emerged from my years of post graduate study and decades of theatre making...

What does it involve? Many things but one of the most important factors is this: we focus on each other, constantly thickening the space between us. Every cell in my body is connected to every cell in my partners...we are but one organism. This way of thinking removes ego, shifts self consciousness and we become part of a growing dynamic, moving closer to connectivity and awareness. We are not afraid of falling into sameness because we are all uniquely ourselves. That is one of the strong outcomes of this work: it moves us closer together, yet it also gives us permission to retain our uniqueness.

"What if this is where I belong?" is another expression that we repeat often. My PhD research has focused on belonging: be-longing and longing-to-be...these concepts sit so well in the rehearsal room. One's character is constantly in the process of creating belonging. Longing to be. Once we understand this we are propelled forward with enormous curiosity, into a world of impulse and surprise. Courage sits close. We find that we are far braver than we have ever been, and we trust on a cellular level rather than trusting people's biographies.

I will miss the first years. They are a group that will make a difference to the culture of theatre. They are respectful of each other and both genders are looking out for each other, making sure that everyone has a voice. One of the 'habits' we have begun to grow is permission to invite others to participate in the conversation or debrief "What did you think,Margi?" one misses out due to conditioning, bias and fear...we have each other's back. We hear each other's voices and we are enriched by them.

Thank you actors, I have learned much from you. I will miss your courage and your enthusiasm and I know you are in excellent hands.