Making theatre can be life affirming, Sometimes when I collaborate with others, I realise how remarkable humans can be. At the great risk of sounding like some evangelising naïf who has just undergone a religious conversion, or taken too much MDMA, I have to say working with Gaitkrash, The Llanarth Group and Theatre P’Yut has been one of the most rich, harmonious and satisfying experiences of my working life.
And this wasn’t just because of the cultural diversity, and the astounding connections we found between Irish and Korean cultures (one of my favourite moments was the interweaving of Irish Sean nos -‘old style’ solo singing mingling with Sal Puri, a dance from the Korean Shamanistic tradition for the release of han); it was the generosity of the individuals involved – performers Regina Crowley, Bernadette Cronin, Jeungsook Yoo, Sunhee Kim, Jing Hong Okorn-Kuo, cellist Adrian Curtin, sound artist Mick O’Shea and all the interns from Cork, the young practitioners and technicians working with us, notably Josephine Dennehy and Katrina Foley. It was the joy of working with my long-term collaborator director Phillip Zarrilli, the speed and ease of our interactions and dialogue, the swift comprehension and response of our co-creators, the generosity of so many, not least our Fundit supporters, who assisted in making this happen.
In a difficult time, when so much feels compromised and austere, challenging and aggressive, when education is run as a business and integrity has been leached from our economic and financial structures, to collaborate and work generously and with commitment with others, seems, frankly, miraculous. It is good practice. It is communicative. It is political. It is thoughtful. It is communal. It has flow. It is efficient. It is creative. It is building many things – not just an experience for an audience, but team work, communication skills, an understanding of good working dynamic, problem solving, a sense of community and our individual and collective roles in that. It teaches patience, encourages understanding and empathy, creates a forum where difference is explored, ideas are shared, debates are made, connections possibly felt. As drama and art are cut totally from the school curriculum, as the arts are seen even more as a luxury rather than a necessity, as culture as creative endeavour is driven increasingly out of our lives, I am increasingly aware of what we are losing and feel we must resist this at every cost.
It is wonderful to read your new post, ‘In praise of theatre and collaboration’. Thank you. I agree with everything that you say about collaboration. My own experience has shown me that amazing things happen when people come together to collaborate – to create, share and communicate.
I consider that this is about sharing a kind of loving – making a connection on both an emotional and spiritual level.
I suppose making theatre together, inevitably heightens this experience of connecting, but I experienced something similar when I worked in community development – that area of work also, revealed that the process of collaboration was about a kind of loving.
Beautiful things happen when people come together to work together. Now that I’m writing – alone at home – it still lifts me to remember that. Thank you for reminding me. Maria x
Soany thanks, Maria. Yes, we have to be reminded of things sometimes… Especially when in the more usual state of writers on – ie, alone and sometimes feeling isolated…
I hope you do not mind I have shared this on the National Youth Theatre of Wales Facebook page.
I was hugely inspired to read this this afternoon and wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
I want our NYTW Ensemble members to experience this, live it and love it.
I believe it is hugely political to work with love, passion and generosity.
Many thanks for this.
Thank you so much for this. I’m moved by your response, Jain, and agree with what you say. Long May practitioners like you be inspiring and guiding the next generation! Thank you x
Thank you! It seems more important than ever to find ways to collaborate and make art. Dark times always seem to threaten the arts, and somehow folks find ways to create in spite of, or because of, the gathering gloom.
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