In stories on June 3, 2006 by carinasuyin

Listening to and watching Anne Bogart present her thoughts in person on the relevance of theatre in the context of the global environment is humbling, illuminating and awe inspiring. Despite presenting her talk as the viewpoints of an American on the global stage, her explanations of what theatre means and what theatre can do were indeed close to heart and home. Each “rubric” she presented and the practical examples/applications she gave was easily assessible on a personal level and applicable to a local context. Her charismatic presence was electrifying but in a delightfully grounded, earthy and sincere manner. I couldn’t help feeling really blessed to have had the opportunity to be her “student” for two hours… imagine being her graduate student at Columbia University or working with her in SITI. A beaming Mr. Suaidi remarked that Anne Bogart is the kind of person he wants to be when he grows up. Hee… yeah, she is truly inspiration and aspiration embodied.

Anne Bogart spoke of seven roles she felt theatre can play in the context of post-9/11. I loved how she communicated abstract concepts by simply stressing the keypoints and illustrating them through real daily life examples. Peppering her talk with interesting anecdotes and stories, she also drew rich inspiration from the sciences like mathematics(Gödel’s theorem? or was it proof by contradiction?), physics(observer effect) and biology(mirror neurons). In demonstrating how scientific concepts are applicable to expanding theatre’s definitions and roles, she had, as Mr. Suaidi aptly observed, also illuminated the encompassing relevance of theatre across society and for humanity.

… to intensify(kinetic and static), enthusiasm, to remember (a poet and watering holes, legacy in retelling), to expand what it means to be human, to articulate (and finish your sentences), to affect catharsis (etymology: shining light upon dark), challenging certainty with uncertainty, the fanatic extremes that follows absolute certainty, the magical creative place/position of not knowing what to make of something or being unsure, to work within a paradox, famine of the spirits (to be attentive), rehearsal is sacred, balancing the vertical and the horizontal, humour as a very important (but oft underestimated) tool, spectacle as 1/7th of a performance, relevance: not to affect only a particular group of audience but to speak directly to a particular part of all kinds of audiences, having the right intentions, the future is created by those who write rather than the ones wielding political power, the powerful silence that follows violence, the gym of the soul…

Most of all, Anne’s talk taught me about owning a conviction, which is utterly empowering and yet is not selfish. Perhaps knowing what I do not want to do is indeed the best enlightenment. She articulated so many thoughts and emotions that I had never been able to convey to Mama and Atah; so much about what I love learning, doing and being a part of, so much about a pursuit of purpose and happiness. Pondering on these thoughts in the evening train, a quote from Mother Teresa comes to mind- works of love are works of peace. In a personal sense, perhaps to find peace is to do what I love and own it with all my raisons du coeur


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