Monday morning arrives; day off after a week of long drives, beautiful scenery and the usual nights of battling s leep with the ever-changing hotel pillows (if you can, always take your own!) that is touring life. Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and Britain all in one day; thank goodness we are still in the EU.
Time to catch up on emails; one message sits in the inbox lurking ready to snap me out of my revelry. It is from Janie, our lovely composer and sometime social media police. ”Sean your deadline for the blog is at lunch today. Could you send it across with a landscape photo?”
Firstly, what is a landscape photo? If I can’t answer the first question this spells trouble. I started to drop into the same panic that the mouse I have been chasing around my house all morning has been experiencing. (Side note, mice are extraordinarily resourceful and have more guts than we take them for. This little fella is now happily occupying the house with me in joyful accord). There is something about putting pen to paper, or digit to keypad that fills me with utter horror. I panic, sweat and spend as much time avoiding the matter in front of me as I can.
It might stem back to the Arcadian teachers with strong squash-playing arms who would whack me over sloppy lazy work, of which I had spent hours on, or the days spent listening to over-erudite actors jousting over how much clever research they had done. Either way, what would take a normal functioning human being a couple of hours would occupy and good week or so of mine. This doesn’t mean I am short of opinions or ideas, quite the contrary, it is pretty tough to shut me up, unless you gently slide a piece of parchment towards me with a Machiavellian grin and say, write.
However, it turns out that my constant malapropisms, my illogical way of looking at the world and search for another form of communication, has a home. In fact it has been my super-power; bouncing between circus and theatre, there are little pockets for oddities like me. I often teach at the National Centre for Circus Arts and each year we have a large intake of students who are dyslexic or dyspraxic. On talking to other colleges who focus in the non-verbal arts (music, dance, art and design) they have found the same trend. It seems there is a large community of people who have found another way of communicating where word or speech are not of primary importance in engaging with the world.
We start to discover that actual letters placed in a particular order have the least importance in the communication food chain. As a child the last thing we learn is speech. Touching, taste, sight and sound have long finished the race before we master the heady language of “look” or “I need wee”. During trauma the first thing that disappears is speech.
So what are left with if we don’t have words? A direct line of conversation with the world possibly? Subtle stories which we constantly convey, shadow moves which betray our inner feelings, a gentle caress of a wine glass, a sudden avert of eyes, gradually clenching of a fist, all carry far more information and resonance than a simple sentence uttered could. Watch as you mirror someone’s sitting positions if you are comfortable with them or casually twist your body away if you are not so sure. It is a realm of rhythm, tension, time and space where a simple touch could crush a person to the core or send them into a euphoric explosion. An honest prolonged hug would deliver a thousand I-love-you's.
Hence the power of mask to directly touch each audience member. They are editing, translating, reshaping what we do to their own personal experience. I think a lot of people imagine that playing mask requires a bold physicality, broad strokes to tell our story. That essentially for us would be the same as shouting all your lines. As humans we do a constant physical dance. Watch the world and you will see.
So in protest I will not be writing a blog post, but will dance in the sunshine that is Greenwich Park and probably get arrested xx