Sometimes we need to do something to shift a way of thinking or a way of being. We wake up one morning and look around us and do not have our usual sense of belonging, which surprises us because it was there the last time we looked.
I love inventing things. I have been a collagist for many years, using it as a process of understanding what is going on both internally and also as a way of creating new performance work. I collage myself again and again until I find meaning both on and off the page, both on and off the stage.
But I am wanting to go one step further this morning. I want to create a personal narrative out of all the collages that I have created since arriving back from Arteles, Finland where I spent a month in relative isolation writing about my work. A personal narrative rather than making it a platform for a monologue to be performed. I want this story to be just that, a simple story of adjustment and opportunity.
I invite you to join me... Give it a go. If you are feeling like your creative flow is a little slow, or you are struggling in a particular relationship either personally or at work, collage it out. Then line the collages up and create a new story of being.
I turn to my 'data' and quickly absorb the collection of collages, beginning the fourth of May, eight days ago. The first collage talks about creating a narrative for life with a cutout text "If I were to ask you to outline your narrative for living how would you respond? Social critic Neil Postman puts it another way in his book The End of Education: Which 'god' do you serve?"
So, I begin with
Which god do you serve?
Do I serve the god of theatre, of therapy, of family, of womanhood, of mother earth or all these things? What god do I serve: the god of wonderment, the god of home making, the god of connection, the god of achievement? Is it even possible to have a narrative for life or do the gods of home and wonderment continually provide windows of opportunity, other ways of being in the world?
During the next few days I find myself in a gale, a wind chime blowing sideways, with a set of pliers close by. Underneath is a quote:
"painting should do what reality cannot"
and so I step into the other world where things are upside down.
Thoughts sit between each other, clouds of ideas. And I am sideswiped by a monologue in EVE, one of my plays, influenced by Eve Langley a most delicious and under exposed Australian writer:
"Sometimes the mind behind my mind becomes so sticky-icky...
I want to take it out and give it a scratch" (EVE script)
"What are you up to?" demands the collage.
But i can't name it, or rather I can name it, but i cannot visualise it.
I see the words, but not the image.
Today is a day of words. Eve says it like this:
I write for myself
I write for myself by myself
These words are healing words...a plan for the future. A transition. But.
I am warned by the next collage.
Do not sit.
do not sit under your pink cloud of obscurity.
take one step.
Have a cup of tea and then take another step.
Because often the rainbow is not where you think it is. It can be underneath.
My final two collages have strong messages, not difficult to interpret but shocking in their own way.
The first message I wrote was "Preparing for Dying" and that came as a surprise. And then I understand... I have been reading quite a bit of Helene Cixous' philosophy and her demand that we must write.
We must write ourselves (Cixous)
Do not stop until you understand all that you are and all that you do.
Don't stop.Don't stop. Don't stop.
And my relationship to dying is strong as I watch a family member move closer to that place that Er talks about in Plato's Republic, where one gets to choose another life in another time.
And yesterday's collage had a most insistent message:
"That she had so completely recovered her sanity was a source of sadness to her. One should never be cured of one's passion" (Marguerite Duras).
After the journey of the seven days of collages I return to today's contribution, to what I am calling the secret noise. On the first night of being back in Brisbane, I awoke at midnight. I could hear a chorus of insects. The night sounds in Finland were silent but the night noises of Brisbane were noisy...a constant background of life happening as I lay in the dark.
Is the background noise that we are listening to an indication of our home within?
My collage thinks so and I return to the first statement on the 4th May "Which god do you serve?"
And I think I know the answer now, I serve the god of the secret noise. The things that flirt with us.
And I am thrown to my play "He Dreamed a Train".
One of the first thing I say to my audience is this:
"Edges that flirt with us...things that we suspect are there but can't name them".
Perhaps it is at the edges of our minds that we find our home within. That secret noise, the conversation the pages have with each other when the lights go out, the in-between space that sits between our readers and ourselves.
I have so much faith in this way of making meaning. It has driven me forward into unknown lands. And I am now extremely interested in the secret noise of creative practice. That voice that speaks extremely softy sometimes and we have to stop and listen if we really want to know where we are heading. Chookas!
Eve and He Dreamed a Train are being produced at Brisbane Powerhouse opening June 29th, 2017