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A Questioning

I read a HowlRound this week by Michael Rohd, who I’ve run up against numerous times in my search for purpose. Please read it here, it’s remarkable.

He’s talking about ensemble, or rather, he’s asking about ensemble.

You see, the title of the essay is: About Ensembles and Universities: 100 Questions, 3 Ideas, 1 Story and a Ghost

Statistically speaking, most of the essay (by far) are questions. Questions about ensemble, questions about education, questions questioning those terms and questions questioning those questions. Funny, it made me think a lot more than most essays, perhaps because Rohd does not provide (or claim to know) any answers. Rather, we, the readers, become co-questioners. A partner in seeking solutions. An ensemble member.

So instead of a set of ideas today, I think a set of questions might be more useful. I’m going to try to keep it to 5 — you don’t have all day — but these will be my burning questions, the ones I can’t get out of my head. Ready to enter my confused mind?

Let’s dive in:

1. What is theatre?

Is it defined by the room it’s in? Is it important? Is there even such thing? Can anyone do it? Does it have to tell a story? Is it possible not to tell a story? Why am I drawn to it? Is it just a quirk of my brain looking for meaning where none exists? Is it holy? Is it obscene? Can something be both?

2. What is theatre for?

Does it do anything? What does it do? What does it do best? Is it worthwhile to do theatre? Is it destructive? Is it selfish? Is it generous? Who cares? Why don’t we all just become accountants? If theatre was gone, would we miss it? Is it a human need? Is it a human want? Is it of any use? Would I stop if it wasn’t?

3. Why am I an artist?

Is it a choice? Is it fate? Was I born this way? What might be the evolutionary advantage of being an artist? Or is it a genetic accident, like freckles? What is creativity? Is it different than art? What am I trying to work out through art? Can it be resolved? Would I want to resolve it if I could? How come so many people think like me? How come no one thinks like me? Is there any story that hasn’t been told before?

4. Can art be taught?

For serious, can it? Is art comprised of technique? Can technique create art? Is technique the opposite of art? Why do I enjoy technique so much? Is art a craft? Can craft generate art? Which part is the art part? Who decides? Does training strip art of its heart? Does training allow art to speak? How much craft is too much craft? Or can you never have enough?

5. Should we art?

Does art cause pain? Is art born of pain? Is it morally right to subject another human to pain/art? Do we just make art for our own sakes? If art has no recipient, what is it? Is art dangerous? Is change dangerous? Would the Dalai Lama make art? Can art be peaceful? Can art be mindful? Can art cause betterment? Does it take place in the room or after? If art is transformative, what if we make things worse? What about bad art? Can art be good?

No answers, please.

Questions welcome.


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