Being an immigrant.

July 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Posted in creative process, creativity, Ensemble, Physical Theatre, Psychophysical Training, Theatre | Leave a comment
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Yesterday was the end of the first full week of the residency. Of the seven days, we have worked for six and a half. Unsurprisingly everyone is exhausted. Genuinely exhausted. Bodies hurt. People feel vulnerable. A niggling pain seems to become an insurmountable barrier. People are raw. It is a time of possible fractiousness, though, to date, the ensemble members are extraordinarily respectful of each other and generous in their willingness not to take out their vulnerability on others.

The particular sort of exhaustion that we are starting to encounter is not only a function of the physical and psychic demands of an intensive work regime, it is a reflection of the reality of a residency. Not only does the immersion in prolonged psychophysical –  and skills  – training make one tired and vulnerable, but the fact that we are all outside our usual routines, our usual social and domestic structures, that all our usual hiding places have been left behind, exacerbates our vulnerability. As well as our bodies and minds becoming strange to  us, as we push ourselves beyond our usual limits, our social selves become strange as well – we have to invent new ways of interacting with people, new ways of carving out necessary private time and space without seeming hostile or confrontational. We have to revisit our habitual ways of being and consider the ethics and morality of how we establish productive, respectful, but self-protecting relationships with a new society.

As someone who emigrated to Australia years ago (though returned eight years later), it reminds me a little of the vulnerability I experienced as a new immigrant. Nothing could be taken for granted and even the familiar became profoundly strange. How much more true that is here – we are all immigrants to Whitestone, made doubly vulnerable by exhaustion and the tenderising process of deep training.

Yesterday we took a half day off. I offered everyone the option of not working in the morning, though nobody chose to take it – in itself a testament to the profound strength and determination I am seeing in all those who have come here.. However the afternoon was free time – everyone ended up walking a couple of miles to the local pub to celebrate Yuki’s 24th birthday. We shared a meal in the evening. Three of the ensemble baked a cake. We gave Yuki two copies of ‘Wuthering Heights’ (written only a couple of miles from here) one in English and one in Japanese. We drank wine – most of us.

And today we started the second intensive week of the training. The next week will be the hardest. I encourage people to approach it through a commitment to their own joyousness, but even so, I cannot stand between any individual and her struggle. Though, profoundly, we are sharing an experience, our struggle is our own.

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