An insider’s view on our artistic process
When creating a new show, chaos emerges. I must deal with all the thoughts and feelings, the anxiety, that come up when I have no clue what’s going on.
The way I deal with it shapes the story.
My approach comes out of a history of working in DIY processes where the only objects that we were able to create with were discarded, found, affordable, donated or free.
We walk into chaos, not knowing what we’ll find, and gather what is offered. Then, we apply an order to what is there.
That’s what human brains do to survive. We are using a function that all humans do anyway, we’re just making it conscious.
The goal? By making it conscious, we can have multiple and sometimes contradictory narratives happening at the same time in the same space. The consciousness of them gives them the space to co-exist.
In that holding of multiple narratives, there is something potentially healing.
A STO Union show begins in chaos. At different times I apply structures to the chaos. That creates orders. The order shapes the essence of the world that is being built. Eventually, a shape comes out of the vast possibilities any show could contain.
The show tells us what it’s about through the lenses/structures we apply to it. Many of the lenses I work with are psychological and/or come from spiritual and religious traditions. All theatre contains elements of this, and some theatre focuses on it more than others. It’s been a passion of mine to learn about human behaviour and to bring that knowledge to the making of shows.
With immense thanks to my teachers, these are a few of the ordering systems I always return to:
An animated version of A.H. Almaas’ structure of the ego. I was handed this at one point in over thirty years in meditation groups and I’m not 100% sure of it’s source. Almaas’ body of work is large and insightful. (The animation is artistic and doesn’t represent anything):
A wheel of emotions, with doodles. Origin of wheel is unknown/lucky symbols applied:
The Five Elements – There is an immense amount of information on this available. This is an image that I like to come back to. How many elements are in the show? Does one dominate? What kind of show is it if it has a lot of wood element? How will that affect the other elements that the audience brings with them?
PLATTA (aka ‘set list’)
About mid-way through the exploration, I apply the ‘platta’ to everything. The platta is a way of ordering events, considering all that we know so far. The platta has many levels, but this is its most obvious, a list of theatrical actions that will happen in a certain order. This is the simple Platta for STO Union’s production of 7 Important Things (2007 – 2015):
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