It is an understatement to say that nothing has gone to plan for our species this year. Humans across the world have experienced suffering, loss, and change at a deep level. It’s hard to know how to find our ground at times like these – how to act with compassion, responsibility, and patience as we navigate the turmoil that comes with transformation.
At the same time, we are surrounded by examples of living beings who are constantly adapting to change with poise and wonder: trees, mosses, insects, birds, and other creatures show us how to move gracefully when material conditions change unexpectedly. Rocks and trees remind us to think about longer, slower trajectories that span across generations of human and non-human lifetimes. These knowledges, long held and treasured within Indigenous wisdoms, are available to us all if we pause long enough to learn from them.
The performances you are about to witness were made under unusual conditions. The students in this Collaborative Performance Making class had to work without touch, wearing masks when inside, and without the easy glamour of theatrical lighting and fancy sound systems to boost their creations. They had to imagine an audience who would be seated at a distance from the performances, and from each other. And they had to work outdoors, under the skies, in dialogue with the weather. In addition, due to a bereavement, they had to work with two different course convenors across the ten weeks of their time together.
And yet, in spite of the challenges, I think it is fair to say that the process of making these performances has been a joyous one. A celebration of what is possible, and what reveals itself when we are forced to work within tight constraints. So we gather on the outside, rather than the inside, of the Esme Timbery Creative Practice Lab. We notice the weather, which is unpredictable and fierce. We invite the trees, the clouds, the winds, the passing birds to be a part of our experience tonight. And we see and hear each other, across distance and difference, sharing our complex humanity for a moment.
This moment we are in, it’s all we have.
Welcome to Other Rituals.
- Rajni Shah