Spontaneous acts of kindness are what makes the world go round. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Love, by which name this global motor also occasionally passes, has become a fickle word: more likely to be a romantic notion, a hippy fantasy or a personal predicament rather than a movement, an energy. Love has become something you feel and make, but it can also be something you act out, unconditionally and as a matter of course wherever you are and with whomever is around you. And totally without your choosing.
What if there were a kind of participative art that operated in a way that promoted spontaneous acts of kindness; that made them contagious like the flu? Not because it taught you how to behave, how to be good or how to be an useful citizen. But because it showed you your natural state and in that state nothing is more natural than compassion. For the purposes of communication, lets call a person who acts in such a way a ‘Creative Citizen’ and participative arts approach that promotes such a thing as ‘Context Oriented Arts’ or CoArts for short.
CoArts invites audiences, through a progression of forms, to turn their attention towards the present moment – the sense of being alive here and now.
It asks us to play with the possibility that ‘all there is, is this’ – the ‘this’ that is happening inwardly and outwardly at every moment. And further, to imagine that it is not happening to anyone – but just happening.
This ‘play’ and the drama that unfolds therein is the material with which CoArts works. Through this process the aim is to move from behaviour that is conditioned by society and culture to creative action that arises from awareness and a state of being that is free from conditioning – giving birth to creative and responsive citizenship rather than conditioned and reactionary citizenship.
How CoArts achieves this is by recognising that the arts are an extension of consciousness and that theatre in particular is a direct externalisation of consciousness. If this is so then participating in different modes of theatre bring about different kinds of consciousness.
The classical arts represents consciousness where there is a clear separation between the observer and the observed – the audience and the play.
Participative theatre, such as the Theatre of the Oppressed, where the audience intervene in the play in order to change it, bring about a reflective consciousness that becomes aware that in some way what the observer does and their attention stance creates the observed reality.
In Immersive theatre such as Sensory Labyrinth Theatre there is no easy line that can be drawn between the audience and the players. The stage is everywhere including in the shared moment, so attention is distributed and the observer and the observed become one.
Other terms used to describe this state are non-duality, oneness or liberation. All our work aims to create a space where this state can be encountered.
“To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended directly and unconditionally by Mind at Large — this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual.”
― Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception & Heaven and Hell