Post verbal theatre: Group evolution drama as a microcosm recapitulation of human evolution
Guidelines and scenario for an Edinburgh festival play. (first performed by students of London University and L.S.E. at Durham, Edinburgh and London 1967, 1968 /reviewed in the Scotsman and the Scottish Daily Mail)
Guidelines and scenario for an Edinburgh festival play. (first performed by students of LondonUniversity and L.S.E. at Durham, Edinburgh and London 1967, 1968 /reviewed in the Scotsman and the Scottish Daily Mail)
Group evolution drama as a microcosm recapitulation of human evolution.
Mass of unconscious flesh. Darkness near complete.Light is born. Light delicately caresses with love this mass of unconscious creation, human/non-human??Very gradually enlightenment takes place.
The unconscious semi-dead mass comes alive and that she is the miracle of consciousness.There is a gradual waking up, rising up and beautiful sequences of discovery.Finally the undifferentiated mass of flesh becomes human beings curious standing on two feet and walking and running and jumping and singing with the joy of consciousness, of birth.
I was both happy and pleasantly amazed when I found that the great choreographer and ballet master Maurice Bejart used this concept exactly in his great ballet creation 'Ballet de Pyramides'.Which he gave us the pleasure of presenting in Egypt in 1990.All initially planned to be performed at the foot of the pyramids but the great ballet was hastily transferred at the last moment by myself to the new Egyptian opera. In Bejart's concept their mass of unconscious humanity in darkness and in blindness is walking up by a mysterious Sufi consciousness represented in the performance by Bejart himself.The mass of unconscious and blind humanity in deep darkness is then walking up slowly by the Egyptian consciousness of old followed by the Greek consciousness of ancient times and gradually as consciousness of erupts and enlarges and flowers a curious mechanised militarism takes over and it is as though humanity is being dragged back to the initially stage of darkness blindness and unconsciousness.The puts in various interludes to make the show palatable and attractive to Mediterranean audiences especially Egyptian and French audiences.There is an interlude about Napoleon and about Ommo Kalthoum the irresistible Egyptian singer Diva that mesmerised millions every evening she sang in public for many years.I do not remember exactly how the ballet was ended but I remain amazed and gratified by the concordance with my group-evolution drama (contratype).It suggests some perennial pattern which is recurrent in the drama of all conscious life.From darkness, blindness and unconsciousness to gradual enlightenment which then becomes tool challenging and tool painful.The next stage is variations on the theme of escape from consciousness.The most common of these escape mechanisms is rejection of emotion, mechanisation and militarism in its many variations. The conscious Homo sapiens gives way to mechanized feelinless Homo and to Homo militaris.In all these adaptations or rather mad adaptations the enemy out there and the Wolf at the door or under the bed is an absolute necessity which is inculcated from early childhood.Instead of Gandhi and Mozart we have the monster under the bed or beyond the door and certainly the enemy lurking to hurt, harm and destroy.
In the version that I developed with the LondonUniversity and LondonSchool of economics students, the protagonists explore themselves and explore their environment with the curiosity of a Child making appropriate expressive responses at each stage .They started to explore each other and discover love of self of other that is to say heterophilia and homophilia.Phenomena of paring and of possession take over.
" This is mine" attitude. Mine is untouchable! was quick to feed animosity and aggression between the protagonists each coveting what the other has or thinks they pocess.The temperature of the aggression potential and real aggression rises sharply with suitable changes of light and lighting as well as perception and body language. Mysterious dynamics of fear afflict individuals and the group like an insidious silent virus. This apparently insignificant seed at the beginning becomes an all engulfing all powerful panic. It becomes a major propeller of human social evolution. Fear takes over from love and trust. Mutuality is lost. The ‘I and you’ principle is lost. Your gain is also my gain ceases to exist.Fellows and comrades become exteriorized, marginalised and labeled as alien and as enemies.
From the curious love possessed curiosity possessed flower children the protagonists are turned into aggressive defenders/aggressors of what they perceived were their unique sacred privileges which had to be denied to others to protect.The all engulfing love of the flower children posture is quickly found to be untenable. Too much pain, too much punishment.Fear and suspicion and aggression towards ‘other’ becomes the rule of the day tragically the rule of the centuries.Indeed fear, suspicion and aggression towards the other becomes the rule in human social evolution. As the dynamics of the diabolical vicious circle entrench themselves deeper and deeper in the human psyche, subconscious, validating circuits created to justify an “I” mode of suspicion and aggression towards the other.Self validating tragic circuits are generated in which all parties blindly participate with the blind misguided enthusiasm and energy of denial represented as glory and achievement.
After a climax in which one of the protagonists has to run off stage and scream for help from everybody, anybody (the audience-us- as expected in all performances are completely passive).
In the next stage the protagonists escape into mechanisation and socialization (a new or modified consciousness).
Their expression of mechanisation and socialisation can be on many lines.The Edinburgh team with Sebastien Bergman, Mike Simpson and Peter Avery chose a startling green lit office environment in which the background sound was that of massive typewriters and calculating machines and in which they themselves performed mechanical robotic movements and showed no feelings whatever towards their environment or towards each other a stark contrast to the live drama of fears, of love and curiosity with which they opened the first post-Enlightenment period and now well hidden below the surface.
They could have escaped into the mechanisation of militarisation which comes to the same endpoint of mechanical and feelingless robotic existence responding to signals from some higher authority outside. All helping to suppress the barriers denying the reality of interactive love and pluralism existing underneath the façade.
The mechanised materialistic world, as expected, pushes everythinghigher higher, faster and faster, faster, louder and louder and louder, more more more.And inevitable breakdown point is reached where the protagonists with a significant light change are sucked/pushed into spasms/orgasms?Of help,help H...........EEEEEEEEEEE........LP.
No one helps! The mechanisms for real and meaningful help have been gradually and progressively atrophied.
In the third and longer version of ‘Contratype’ group-exploration-evolution drama there were some variations.The process of self discovery was amplified by each protagonists discovering himself or herself as linked to their own particular work of art (painting) and music which defined how they perceived themselves pulsating, feeling and alive. They explored music and painting until they found themselves and affirmed that finding by confidently presenting themselves not as names and numbers but as pulse, rhythm and music.
After the breakdown climaxes of their socialization, mechanization,militarisation phase, there is a return (recapitulation) to the very beginning where human beings become again a mass of unconscious flesh, steeped in darkness.
The doors of discovery of self seem to have become again completely closed and protected by thick and powerful barriers made of pain, fear and mountains of subconscious suffering and protracted separation from self and from valid emoyions.
Through primal screams, mutual primal therapy and rebirth
Very slowly and through the deep darkness one by one of the protagonists starts to go through all the near impossible, impassable, barrier.The protagonists go through a sort of primal therapy where they catalyse each other's difficult passage. There are at first sighs growing to groans of pain, howling somewhat like the pains of birth or rebirth. Little by little the stage and auditorium is drowned into screams and shrieks of pain expressing the terrible suffering journey of human beings into and out of the process of dehumanization socialisation and mechanisation. Their impossible impasse of pain and darkness is solved by discovering the way out of the labirynth into pluralistic interactive harmony, a sort of a new musicalisation of life. Music and musicians come into the formula. The impossible birth takes place, this incorporates the concepts of "third wave" win/win, nondestructive pluralism, harmony within and without, inter-active multi dimensionality. In short musicalisation of life and of concepts.
The protagonists, matured, through this trial of fire and water re-relate to each other and to the world in a creative way, resolve their conflicts in non-violent win-win channels. They are again seething with creativity and curiosity reminiscent of what they were in the early phases of the dawn of consciousness and enlightenment. There is hope yet ‘inspite of everything’ ‘malgre tout’!there is hope that man will discover and be the real nature of Homo sapiens namely the triumph of life without violence or destruction.