Just when I needed a LIFT
Today I attended another event run by the theatre group LIFT at which the topic was Innovation. LIFT run these events after the attendees have been at a related theatre performance. The performance is used as a trigger for thinking more creatively about individual, business or social challenges we are facing. Earlier this week we had all been to see a performance of To You The Birdie (Phedre) by The Wooster Group from New York.
The performance, of a classical greek tragedy, was performed in an amazingly complex and technological set. It involved actors acting to images on huge plasma screens, re-acting to other screens which the audience couldn't see. Some of their speech was delayed through the audio system and they were being fed live instructions from the director through ear pieces. The props involved were piece from previous Wooster group productions and the material on the screens the actors, but not the audience, could see were of either previous productions or other related material from film etc. Much of the action centred around a badminton match played on stage which gave the Matrix like impression that the players were actually inside one of those old tennis video games.
The impression conveyed was of individuals trying to hold to some form of narrative in the face of amazing complexity and in a disembodied technological nightmare - sound familiar?
At today's event we combined reflection of the play with members of The Wooster Group with a session led by an Australian theatre director from Sidney.
We talked about the Wooster Group's use of space and their director's interest in using ideas from architecture for inspiration. They placed actors in a constraining physical space with certain tasks and routines to perform yet used this to stimulate a highly individual, almost improvised performance. There were comparisons with structure and innovation in business and how much individuals are encouraged to be innovative or not. It also reminded me of Dave Weinberger's search for metaphors for the web, the architectural nature of the set mixed with the complex props and activities making sense out of the woven story.
The Australian theare director, Wesley, was part Aboriginal and he based his session on their tradition of using stories and dance to make sense of their world. Their use of images and metaphors to describe the complexity of their natural environment and their transmission of tribal stories through song and dance again reminded me of the web and the contextual threads woven by bloggers. Bruce Chatwin's book The Songlines tends to appeal to people into the web and how it is developing because of similarities with the aboriginal sense making through paths and threads of meaning.