Last evening we had our first show in Newcastle in a beautiful seating configuration. The whole audience sat on the stage with us, around our boxing ring. They were close, the sweat was real, the fight was constructed to look the genuine article (not including the occasional real clip of a glove) and the audience, of course, loved it. Afterwards, when we gathered around a table at Goldbergs, a delightful cafe in Newcastle city that has had a long life and appears to be the go-to place late evening, we discussed how different every performance was. Sometimes it feels ferocious. Other times things seem to unfold in a more measured way and sometimes it falls inbetween. Tonight was an inbetweener. We all decided as we were eating hot soup, couscous and/or salad, that the reason we do theatre is because we never know what we will get. We, as an ensemble, don't always do what we've always done, rather we endeavour to be in tune with our fellow actors and our audience and respond to what is happening, right here right now.
And it is ritual that prepares us for the unknown world of performance. Rituals we conduct together each day. Our intention is to create a safe space where we "thicken" the space in between us, that intangible, potent space of relationship. A most sacred space.
I am reading a beautiful book by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood (2014)at the moment, called "Your Hidden Riches: Unleashing the Power of Ritual to Create a Life of Meaning and Purpose",.... and they write:
"... that creating a sacred space...in your own being, is one of life's most precious attainments" (Attwood and Attwood (Kindle, p. 1 of 296). If we can create a sacred space as an acting ensemble, then we can also create a sacred space internally.
Today I am committed to count the number of rituals I actually engage with, as well as the number of rituals I consciously begin to create. Things like tea making, mindful walking, mindful sitting, mindful breathing...I'm going to count them, because if I can identify something as ritual, rather than habit, I think it will not only be more powerful, but far more enjoyable.
I'll let you know how I go.