Realms workshop © _explanation_how it all started_how has it been evolving_what is Theatre of Inconceivable all about_
Creating theatre in nature is a super simple action. It only puts higher demands on you as a storyteller, actor, choreographer, and last but not the least, as a human being.
You as a human being are part of a particular worldview created and carried out by the civilization you belong to. You are an intrinsic part of your civilization as well as you are an intrinsic part of nature. Your view and an idea of what nature is, is culturally determined, and there is almost no way out of that linguistic riddle. Luckily human comprehension is not only or even primarily based on language, so that is helpful when trying to escape the big language determinism. What is nature, well, pretty most everything that hasn’t been produced as a result of a human action. But, if we are creatures of Mother Earth the same way as insects and birds which create their nests and architecture, as well as we do; what is more natural, a cottage house, or a house made of clay or termite mounds and bee hives?
Basically the only thing that separates us from that what we tend to name as “creatures of nature” is our perception, again rooted in particular civilization worldviews. In my work everything comes down to perception and capabilities of perceiving.
The Theatre of Inconceivable wants to be theatrical in the Inconceivable because many of the given cultural presumptions I have found unconvincing. Those presumptions are trying to keep me controlled via language and put pressure on my sheer freedom of expression, the form I am going to use to represent myself. My authenticity is here for no other reason apart from to be. These artificial cultural presumptions create social pain in me and around me. Here I would love that it is noticed how I am using the personal form of writing in this text and I am doing it on purpose so that the written abundance of personal pronouns can indicate that I am the one who is responsible for the language I am going to create here and how searching a concept in performing arts is a topic of existential issue. I, a human being and a creature of nature has decided quite some time ago that I will, during this lifetime, be able to overcome the societal, artistic and cultural presumptions, committing myself to something which for me is, existentially and via my cultural affiliation, inconceivable. I promised myself to be piercing through my perception capabilities in order to perform above or behind or sub something I believe that keeps me in a societal context and expectation.
On that road on which I have been,carrying even a painful passion for going beyond the frame of collective perception, I was launched like a racket into multidimensional existence that is in Western civilization, still defined as imagination, therefore, neglected, ignored, mocked and worst of all – spiritualized.
I was thinking, it is good that our existence is multidimensional in a core, because it is good for business! Spiritual business and spiritual ego, the GigaMegaTerraEgo. The closest this civilization has come to understanding the multidimensional existence is via collective craving found in people that has been translated into religions, all kinds of addictions (especially the hard drugs addiction) and naming the whole multidimensional phenomena as “spiritual”, rather than naming it a sheer reality. What a pity for a reality! Reality doesn’t sell well, whereas mystery and spirituality does. Naming some other existences spiritual automatically separated our material existence from the non-material which is, then – spiritual. Since Western culture worldview is materialistically based worldview, the non-material existence is already secondary, either non-existent or suspicious.
Theatre of Inconceivable, Ti is interested for multidimensional existence, and operates there, but is not spiritual. At least not in a sense that was mentioned in the previous paragraph. Ti is very interested in matter and everything that stirs the matter. As a matter of fact, Ti is dying of curiosity how matter is shaped at all and then noticeable to anyone. Ti is dying of curiosity to find out what you can do at all those levels before the matter is shaped and once it is shaped how the hack to perform with it. So, before the curiosity finally kills the Ti, it is a pure pleasure to be getting to know how one can play in nature, with that nature, within nature, knowing that the actor and creator is that same nature you play with. And there you go, you have your first perception shift done, cleared from spiritual trap, the trap of separation of humans from spirit.
The practice that I have been developing within the Theatre of Inconceivable relies on a heightened state of awareness. If we choose not to be taking things and terms for granted, the first question that arises is: what has been heightened here and what does it consider?
Every daily capacity of awareness is individual, presenting the first step in perception. Heightened stands here for any kind of state a person is capable of achieving that is broader, more awake, more fresh and more spontaneously interactive than the state of being we have and use to function in our everyday surroundings.
The second step around the term heightened and creating in nature considers being in a state of mind that enables detecting phenomena in nature (trees, rocks, flora and fauna, water etc.) as present and alert as you are. Therefore it is highly practical to be alert, for more awake you are, the more visible you are for the world of nature. There we go, I am changing discourse now consciously. Yes, because being present in this theatre stands for being capable of grasping the world of nature as intrinsically vivid, alive, communicative, conscious and above all, joyful. We all are interconnected by the power of elan vitae which is in its essence joyful. This is my direct experience achieved not only by being quite a joyful mere mortal, but by years of extreme and committed work on consciousness and grasping my (spiritual) existence. I say, life is equivalent to joy. Joy is equivalent of life.
That’s why the third step of heightened necessary for creating an interactive theatre in nature is the landscape. Interactive stands here for the actor among other actorS (this one is pluralia tantum).
The landscape exists as pluralia tantum, as plural, a multiexistent, multiplural and/or multidimensional. Where plural here is not the typical multitude; the one, two, three, four, five multitude, the multitude where all those singulars (one, two, three, four, five) are separated from one another. The plural of a landscape is indeed pluralia tantum, only – multitude without separation, existing multidimensionally and as one. Heightened awareness therefore includes coping with such a worldview and creating in it.
Being analytical as I am here, this case goes even further:
if I am a creature of nature, and I place myself in the landscape to create some playful act – I become part of that landscape and I am actually the pluralia tantum too, I am the landscape and I am the other actorS; I just have to figure out how to tangle with each new landscape I meet, with each new me.
Important approach lies behind questions:
what is this landscape,
what does it stands for,
within what does it stand,
what does it want to communicate,
and what am I here,
what I am doing here at all,
what do I communicate,
what am I capable of – with a precondition settled in the vain premise that I know who I am, at least for a second… This brassy knowledge of who I am is as well a precondition for performing in nature, but before this text becomes to suspicious and pretentious, I leave this who am I precondition open, like a driving license, it is good for the job if you have it, but you can survive here without it. Ps. I don’t own a driving license. Yet!
When it comes to the body, yes, the heightened awareness considers bodily readiness, which means, the more you practice your body-mind practice you will be more agile and more ready, like in sports, your body-mind connections will be more developed, your synapses more visited and your joints more oily. You will be more alert; you will catch the rabbit even elegant sometimes. Still, training the body doesn’t mean anything if the actor is not capable grasping the multitude and to perform within. Then this is just theatre sports.
I mentioned earlier in the text how human comprehension is not only or even primarily based on language. Human comprehension comes out of having energy, understanding energy dynamics, and manipulating the energy the same way we use the words to shape an utterance. Our energy centers that are communication centers, and that are perception centers take part in that process. Those energy centers are our own little power plants which represent our comprehension systems. They work, produce, shape, and transform energy into qualities needed for us. There is so much talk (read discourses) about societal norms that create belief systems which manipulate our comprehension. The whole contemporary theories in arts are about discourses, and everything, again stays in and whirls around the language. Boom boom boom, the language doom!
Art theories are so afraid to assume that our all-encompassing comprehension of reality and systems we create within it and live upon is based on our energetic potential to grasp something. The amount of energy that someone has and the quality of that energy shall or shall not succeed in conveying a message, in giving a story a certain quality, in shaping a discourse, in elaborating yet undistinguished phenomena. The energy will do the work, not the language! The materialism of western culture is so rigid and deeply interlaced that even art theories that criticize the social structures upside down and inside out avoid lurking into multidimensionality of life and notion that our perception powers are transformed aspect of our energetic powers. Energy and perception are cooked in the same bucket. Comprehension and language shaping and then the worldview resulting as a work of language are a product of our diligent energetic centers that unconditionally work for us, no matter if we are mere morons with destructive intentions or if we are very intelligent goodhearted individuals that work for the humanity. Power plants serve anyone!
In order to keep the personal power plants working smoothly…
Nowadays a plenitude of exercises on how to bring ourselves into alert state of functioning exists. The 20st century contemporary theatre practices as well as martial arts have nourished us with a rich archive of knowledge and practical know-how in widening our own personal package of steadiness for existence: our bodily, mind, emotional and energetic capabilities. Here I wouldn’t like to get myself into philosophies on what body is or how the body-mind connections establish because they have been elaborated widely in contemporary theatre practices and in critical theories in arts and theatrology as well as among explanations within trainings in martial arts or recent literature that appeared around the term mindfulness.
I have entered physical theatre practice learning and practicing the Grotowski training for actor. I was overwhelmed by this technique and to exhaust myself in order to shift my consciousness and behaviour gave me a catharsis and pleasure. A state of light trans makes one more alert and keeps the power plants in shape. My experience is that one can have truly profound experiences and when practicing the Grotowski training, maybe the best technic to encounter another living being without social masks, automatized body gestures, or anxiety, vanity and stupidity that has incorporated in the flesh while growing up.
It is very risky to be working conceptually in the multitude, because you end up again easily in another misconception of everything you can offer. To exhaust the mind via body movements that provoke the energetic and societal points in the body and that cleanse the body from painful societal robotization and neural toxins, is a blessing. To exhaust the mind of the participants of your workshop and to do it via body as Grotowski proposed it is extremely handy because one should be a hard knacker or in a superb body condition to avoid the transfer which happens once mind has finally been exhausted. When you are sweating and hardly stand on your feet and have to perform and communicate, it is rarely that one will slip through and pretend to be something. When you’re hardly standing on your feet during such an exercise, in order to go on, you have no other option but to abolish that part of your mind that is telling you that you will collapse. During the exercise you abolish regions of your mind one by one and luckily free yourself from it during the training by entering a state of trans – the highly alert and heightened state of functioning in comparison to your daily habit of communicating.
I have been practicing the Grotowski training for the actor for 3,5 years, either in a group or alone. In the same period, I was working with sound playing musical and sound-therapeutic instruments as gongs and Tibetan singing bowls which triggered my perception of surrounding space. I experienced how the space and air bends and flows in many directions like water. While listening to gongs and being exposed to the strong vibrations of it, I could feel the Chi holding my hands in upright position without any muscular effort, without sweating or physical exhaustion I could bend my body in positions that were usually physically demanding to me. These were the years when I for the first time felt energy consciously and learnt to communicate by using energy and the years of intense psycho-energetic cleansing, striving and healing.
Somewhere along the way, more accurately 2014 Marko Pogačnik’s work in Geomancy entered my life. In the moment of writing I am still most influenced by his practice and the tools to understand the Earth and earthly cosmos that I have received working with him. Meeting Marko came in the prime time, for I was already practicing my physical theatre in parks and mountains, but not yet performing in nature. It came to me, naturally, to choose my rehearsal space as my performing space, it simply offered itself. By then I have already experienced embracing the vibrational impulses that I would receive from particular forests and landscapes. It all started that way that I was simply playing with forests comparable as I did during the gong baths, letting my body (hands primarily) to adopt a shape and movement that was streaming to me out of that landscape. That was a pure energetic work, an energetic shape adoption taken from diverse locations and experiencing them and learning by doing what I could do with them. Most clear experience of it I had in front of semi-dried (thirsty) dwarflike forest in the mountain Velebit in Croatia during my hikes. I have already been practicing such a game (which is today one of the exercises that I tend to use in Realms workshop) with landscapes when I started doing geomancy with Marko. That is why it was much easier to get in touch with landscapes, to communicate with them, to be receptive, to understand what is going on.
That same year 2014 I created a movement frame for my first site-specific one-act play On the Lake. Initially I created my movements using my physical theatre tools, but they spontaneously changed and shaped into a story that started to wind along with the lake and me being and playing daily next to it. The relationship was established between that specific lake in Zagreb and me, and it was then when I started to play that relationship, rather than arriving at the site-specific location and imposing my story upon it. The movements I develop for my site-specific shows are not a coincidence, I search for them, I clean them and try to make them as clear and as communicative as possible. Meaning, it takes a lot of practice. Although I always leave space for improvised movements to appear during the show. When playing outside, that is sometimes the only way to play from already determined sequence to another familiar movement sequence. Those well-coordinated sequences serve as notation, la partitura for aligning to the realms we are interested in.
Don’t impose, repose!
The whole process starts with an individual being present in the body, and alert within oneself. Being alert is a basic precondition for creating a theatrical event in the landscape with a preceding wish and intention of communicating and co-creating with that same landscape.
Firstly, I arrive somewhere.
That somewhere becomes my now.
I observe, I absorb, I wait, I give in. I try to give in. I receive. I try to receive. It’s not always easy. We all have our mental preconceptions that are necessary for living in collective realities; we have our memories, our personal psycho-energetic frames of existence. I didn’t come to a lake and said, all right, now I am letting go of that everything, I will simply drop my life-sustaining presumptions in the lake or burn it in the gallon. It doesn’t work that way. It demands a lot of work in that I was mentioning earlier, the defamed self-development work. Luckily, nature is supportive and highly interactive. That is the reason I would always recommend starting with an interaction, you give (an impulse), and you receive (an impulse). Like when we were 1,5 years old; someone would throw a ball to you, to a toddler; and you, the toddler would catch it or not, and then you would grab it and throw back to that someone. So start like that, be a toddler, play.
The crucial part of my practice is rooted in awareness of the multitude and in surrendering to the worldview which embraces the Earth as multidimensional and doesn’t reduce it to her material existence.
Within my work I am ready to state that this worldview is more than a cultural mindset or a discourse, it is a reality, which is not fixed, but transformable, fluid, often highly subjective, intelligent, and acts as a living being possessing multidimensional consciousness. How to abandon a worldview for a reality, for the living being, for a living playful creature? Once this is clear, one can search how to communicate with that breathtaking creature and shape it finally into a performing act. To sum up, I collect the movements in my theatre plays as a result of playful interaction with the landscape or a site in that landscape. In order to live up to the task I bring myself to the state of heightened awareness using the exercises that I have either developed during my work or borrowed from various physical theatre and meditation practices. Work in geomancy has opened and keeps opening to me these never-ending doors of what the space is and how our realities are shaped.
While performing I rely on synchronicity. Every story you want to tell, and/ or every story that wants to be told will find a path and will use the energies that stay at the story’s disposal. This time energy is carried by an actor, and by the choreographer and when there are more people involved, by the whole team. Everyone chirp in for the story to be embodied in the flux of energies which flow in the voice, in the bodily movements and in the collective completely unconscious permeation and intention what will arrive to spectators. The play, abstract in its expression will reach the spectator as clear as the energies are directed towards audience.
Although I am creating my own shows, I am far way from being a theatre director. I am not, in a way, a director at all. I am aware that I as someone who is creating the story or telling the story, I am only one part of the whole picture that is assembling around the choreography which has been created with the bodily movements, visible movements in nature and invisible moving of the space and landscape.
I sometimes arrive with the sequence of a certain movement that I developed upon a course of time, following a peculiar inner impulse of mine that came to me either through an intense psycho-emotional state or through a careless playful state of being and acting in the sense.
I try to fix the movements which I have, to know where they begin and where they end. During the performance, by respecting the course of a matter, where I am playing, what is happening around me, I respect the course of time and singular events that interact with the show without any plan. Using playfulness I try to embrace these elements or simply find my path through it.
I spend a great deal of time just observing around me, gazing at the space where I find myself, absorbing, receiving. During my practice I would catch myself being lazy in the space; where I would sit and stare in a certain frame of the space, with my thoughts luring around and bringing me away from the given task. I was very irritated by myself interpreting these mental and physical states as laziness and not possessing enough self-discipline. And they were that partially, no doubts. But, then I understood that my observation tools are trying to escape my determinism, my fixed intention that a process must go exactly the way I planned it. I realized that my eyes are relaxing in nature and as if this whole perception machinery that I am equipped with, is acting as a light catcher, a smoothness seeker, a light probe that automatically recognizes its needs. Today it is very clear to me that we humans are highly responsive to light in any shape. Being in the daylight, as mostly I was while rehearsing, I start to understand that my eyes want to relax from the entire stimulus they receive and that they seek their laziness, leisure time in the spectrum of white light. Nowadays we are bombed by artificial light and the intense light of our laptops and mobile phones, it seems to me my eyes are seeking a break from digital era. Or I have just made up a revolutionary excuse for my laziness and procrastination naming it “a leisure time in the spectrum of white light”. A good name for a new show, tough. Nevertheless, light is highly important in the work of Theatre of Inconceivable. Light is nurturing and can help to pierce through the inabilities of perception. Light has a guiding nature, it points out the relevant, it is supportive and it is intelligent. Without light there is no perception. Without energy there is no perception. Light waves your way through, it helps reaching far. The way I cope the landscape depends on amount of light I am able to exchange; my scope to cope the landscape is light-full event. The Inconceivable shows the tendency of reaching far, and then a bit more, and far, to the Inconceivable. To arrive there, and to perform there. As far I am able to perceive, that far I am able to perform. Or put more simply, I am able to perform so much as I am able to perceive.
When performing in nature, a performer is dealing with an alive space that is incomparable to usual indoors scenery. You, as someone who chose to create in nature, are caring a wider responsibility of understanding the features of that space. By features I am not talking of the ecology of the system, but of the features when space is perceived as another living being within which you placed yourself. Your responsibility is to live up to the level of that very area, space and landscape where you create, to understand it from a transcendental point of view as well. To try to understand the creative features of the landscape, of that living being within whom you decided to do either your art, or your future habitat, or the field where you will grow your food or simply walk through it. In order to achieve that, one needs to align with the space one decided to place oneself in and one’s performance. In other words, to acknowledge different realities you will have a chance to meet, witness and channel while creating the fable of the performance. To align these newly encountered realities into one Realm – to lead it through you, through what is flowing around you and in you while performing or observing.
This is exactly what leads me to the explanation what Realm is or more accurate what Realms are.
Realms stand for every dimension we are capable of co-creating within and with a space we find ourselves in. They are a priori creative; therefore they can be addressed as Creative Realms.
Creative realms assume the intersecting points of different overlapping levels of existence, similar to thresholds.
Meaning, the Theatre of Inconceivable understands the process of performing in nature as playing through the overlapping levels of existence. Theatre of Inconceivable inhabits thresholds in our current realities and hopes to bring novelties of a story and how it can be narrated. Often, during performances, events occur that I haven’t counted with and they match harmoniously into fable bestowing it with motives out of some narrative dimension I haven’t been aware of. I always live space in my shows for unexpected elements of the fable to enter it. Wild animals pay me a visit sometimes, which is my confirmation I am doing something that makes sense and actually creates a whole new sense.
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EXAMPLE OF A REALM CREATED DURING THE SITE-SPECIFIC SHOW
This scene has been documented by the artist duo O:Otvoreno during the performance On the Lake at the Javorwood festival 2019 in the Bosnian mountain Bjelašnica.
I am using it as an example to demonstrate how levels of seeing contribute in creation of Realms. As well as how a Realm is created from a side of a spectator.
This is happening at the very beginning of the performance, when this character in brown cloak, The Limping Elephant, has already appeared in between the festival visitors, walked pass the children playground and the restaurant’s terrace and eventually came down the stairs that lead close to the water.
The moment when The Limping Elephant appears in front of the water is synchronous to the moment when it appears on the lake and in the lake. This photo shoot documented the character walking down the stairs. This is the following reality of the narrative which has been spotted and documented: we can see The Limping Elephant and random audience lurking at what is going on there; a person in a blue jacket sitting next to the lake, two men standing (one in a yellow shirt, another in white-black shirt); in front of them two young people squatting, a girl in a red jacket just behind The Limping Elephant. On the left side, there are two little girls and couple standing between them, and a girl with a hat walking down the meadow. We can as well see the blue banners, the bar tables, the parasol. Behind people there is a dark green forest. This is what we see.
Still the realm is created in spite of what we are capable of seeing.
The play actually takes place and time, its places and times, other way round too.
The primary dimension of the play takes place in the lake.
The Limping Elephant has appeared in the lake. The lake is mirroring the character’s appearance as the character establishes itself in the new watery dimension. The water is still, so is the watery character. At this rotated image, The Limping Elephant catches your attention and all the perspective lines meet where the character is standing.
All of a sudden there are two almost equal looking characters: one shaped of matter and one shaped of water. All of a sudden there are two synchronous plays: one shaped in air and matter and one shaped in water. Two levels of the play have been created that are traceable by human eye and camera.
Short on Water-Matter relation: Marko Pogačnik elaborated at one of his lectures in 2019 that I was lucky enough to attend, that water as being the one that stores information has capacities to take over the role of the matter. He names this phenomenon The Cosmic Crystal Water. Those multidimensional existences that yet haven’t taken shape in matter are capable achieving that via watery substance. As a matter of fact, according to Pogačnik’s words, it is the The Cosmic Crystal Water that plays a crucial role in the overall transformation that Earth is going through and that is essential for the leap of consciousness the Earth has started to take.
Just mentioning, The Cosmic Crystal Water was not to be found in that small lake that was actually artificial. If I get back to that part where I claim that landscapes are alive and have consciousness and possess rhythms of an organism, I may as well mention that that small artificial lake that resembled more a bigger pond hasn’t still been completely recognized as a lake from the landscape itself. That old deep forest, beautiful birch and spruce forest from that part of mountain Bjelašnica recognizes that artificial lake as water, not as a lake. Since On the Lake is a site-specific show that takes part on and in the lake, I was challenged to deal with that situation. Now I am glad I have had that experience because I have learned additionally how to work with the element of water in a way that I haven’t had tried by then. It was again a self-taught method, but not completely. It was the landscape and the forest that was teaching me. When I write something like this, I mean it. It is not a metaphor or a cheesy way of expressing. It is a method.
To get back to the rotated image.
Look at that scene.
Do you see that something or someone is missing?
Where is the man in the yellow shirt? Where are the blue festival banners? Where are the bar tables?
I didn’t photoshop that photo. I only rotated it twice counterclockwise. It was a proposal.
Exactly this is how I propose a spectator to observe and think. Keep rotating your thinking. Think counterclockwise. I propose you to question what you have seen or what you are capable to see. You are the spectator, after all.
In the lake, at the watery level of reality and narrative, the optical perspectives that normally occupy our senses are not present. Those perspectives are the one that create the picture for the spectator at the level of the matter. It is those perspectives that are taken in consideration when narrating, when understanding the story, when interpreting the story. The reversed perspectives, in this case the watery ones, stay intact. Still, they exist and narrate their dimension.
Later in the play I, the actress, enter that water.
The character enters the water.
The dimension of the matter overlaps the dimension of water.
I play in the lake, with the lake, and the lake plays with me.
The water responds all the time, it is my most responsive partner I have ever had a chance to dance with. Our existences overlap, we exist within each other, we meet at the intersecting points of different overlapping levels of existence, those similar to threshold.
Follow the link What Realms are_
We play together, and we are a priori creative, therefore we can be addressed as Creative Realms.
Meaning, everything recognized in the photo and all the narratives (inner ones as well) that can fit in the photo are part of a new realm that was created at that very moment as The Limping Elephant approached the water and created that watery character that plays along. Everything that can fit a mirroring picture of the lake is part of that realm, although we may not notice it, but it still dwells there.
As an author and choreographer of that performance I am choosing that a primary role is exactly The Watery Character that reappears and vanishes again and again taking different shapes and forms. For me the scene seen in the rotated image is the primary scene and all the stories of the site-specific show On the Lake in the mountain Bjelašnica coincide in that character. It is hard to tell who the protagonist here is when there are so many characters overlapping. Nevertheless, the intersecting point flows through the actress and via her energetically charged intention to call out the multidimensional narrative of nature to establish itself. She does that by using water and by aligning herself with the landscape, with the alive scenery she is part of. And exactly that phenomenon is something, that I as an author of such a theatre have named The Living Scenography.
Theatre of Inconceivable, Ti creates site-specific shows based on The Living Scenography
co-created in a certain play within the Realms of that play.
The last, but not the least. This photo has been taken by the artist duo O:Otvoreno who were at the festival spot creating an interactive installation next to the water. With their courtesy I am using this photo and the photos which you can look at in the gallery below.
It is important not to neglect that photographer is a diligent spectator. Without a photo there would be no trace of a play and no evidence to continue the narration. The photographer is the one who chooses the initial position of the upcoming narration because the photographer chooses the perspective.
To be continued.
More of my texts, but in Croatian are to be found at this LINK.
The only truth about the nature of texts is their endlessness.