*Family: a basic social unit; considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not. Or that is just one definition that I made up. Sounds good though;) I made one up because there is not a good definition of our type of theatre family, according to the internet dictionaries that I looked it up on. I like the fact that our “family” is not defined in normal terms and we function outside the norms. For this blog I want to focus on the “dwelling” part of this made up definition.
“… whether dwelling together or not,” the “or not” is the part that sticks out. Without a team of artists and audiences gathering together in one location, is it theatre, and if not, are we still a family? Now, I am not saying theatre is dead, end of days, all hell is raining for the sky and we all going to die. No, in my boredom, I got to thinking about the importance of an object that shares a meaning with a social group, e.g. religious symbol or family heirloom, and what gives it that meaning.
Staying at home and no theater to make messy is hard for me. I have only done it once in my career, and it becomes difficult not to have the artistic outlet you have always had. I am finding ways to work from home but when half of my work requires a/our/my/the theatre, there is a void that is not filled. And yes, my wife has many projects around the house that I can need to do, however it is not the same. I thought to myself, maybe I will just start reading scripts and putting designs on paper. So late one night, while not sleeping, I started to work on some concepts, but that buzz did not last. I guess without the idea of seeing it come to life, and without the collaboration of the team, I did not care, I don’t know. Maybe, just maybe I miss the venue, the shell that we all crawl into to feel artistically, safe, or a place we are safe to feel, laugh, cry, whatever. So how important is the shell, are we crabs that shed our homes when they no longer fit us, but the social group does not share the shell. I don’t know if a good metaphor exists that can help explain this strange dwelling that we have. Like our family, can this shell not be defined?
Is the theater, the building, a possession or is it something more? Is it an object we hold? Are we, the staff at MAP, in possession of an object, or are we stewards of something more, the re of the er? If you don’t know what that means, long story short for the purposes of this blog, theatre is the art, theater is the building. Is er just as necessary as re? If you were to ask me a few years ago I would say no the art is the only thing that matters, theatre can be performed anywhere, anytime. This may still be true, however once the er, the stage, the house, the bar, the gathering place, our shell, has been taken away, it might make you think that the er has just as much power. Let’s call it the ghosts in the theatre, the ghosts can draw us to them and/or push us away. We try to find a shell with ghosts that like us and invite our family home. Or do we create our own ghosts and take them with us, or were they there before us? Is the power of MAP lost without the shell that we gather in? Or is the power in the possessors, the stewards of the er, the creators of the re, the family that calls it home? Do you have to have a dwelling to be a family? I still don’t think so, but it is nice.
My personal dilemma right now is I miss the er more than the re, and it is not even close. Is that because of my position with the company and the type of work that I do? Or is there something else that pulls at me? I have left other companies and other theaters, and I have missed them all, but I am wondering now, was it the art or the family?
Maybe it can’t be defined.
– Jonathan Scott McKean