THEATRE-MAKING: A SPACE OF POTENTIALITY
Following on from my previous post, I proposed that one way in which an affective performance ecology might be put in to action was through the creation of a space of potentiality.
A space of potentiality is an approach to constructing a theatre-making experience that combines a particular ethical reflexivity with collaborative creative activity to allow an indeterminacy that enables choice-making that may lead to a vision or experience of a new way of being-in-the-world. It is a facilitated space, that may inspire change through resisting presumptions about change or transformation.
There are three underlying concepts to this idea:
First: A concept of potentiality:
I base this on Brian Massumi’s use of the word in relation to affect theory (2002: 9). Potentiality is not limited because it is a virtual state, an in-between state. It is the moment when a felt sensation moves beyond the body to a state of not-yetness. It is a point of indeterminancy.
I consider indeterminacy to be the relative freedom of an in-between state of not-yetness when devising theatre – what might be considered to be the liminal - as participants engage in making choices inspired by their creative imagination. Facilitating a process that supports indeterminancy opens up to a greater experience of new potentialities that simultaneously gives participants more freedom of choice not just artistically, but to re-imagine themselves and their relation with the world around them.
Second: A concept of space:
By space, I acknowledge the prior work of others in the field of applied theatre, such as Sally Mackey, who have articulated space – and indeed place – as relational constructs (2016). In particular, I adopt Doreen Massey’s use of the term space as always under construction through relations that occur in a given place and moment (2005: 9). Space becomes a sphere in which different potentialities may coexist.
I, therefore, accept a concept of space within the context of the theatre-making experience as fluid, plural and, most importantly constructed through relation with others. Creating a space of potentiality, then rests upon the manner in which relations occur and are facilitated.
Third: An approach to a ‘way of being in relation’:
I am interested in how a practice of recovery (from addiction) may generate a particular approach to navigating relations and power dynamics.
Recovery practices require a particular ethic of reflexivity that is simultaneously supportive, respectful and challenging. When working with people in recovery, avoidance of the potential discomfort of critical reflection would be counterproductive to a recovery process that often entails a continual ‘inventory’ of thoughts and actions to encourage recognition of and accountability for addiction-orientated behavior. This may also involve a recognition of thinking patterns or painful sensations of feeling that might inhibit relation with others and also recovery. Relation in this context involves continual acts of reflexivity that support those involved to engage in opening up to relating with others while also practicing personal accountability.
It involves a continual negotiation of boundaries for respectful and inclusive inter-relation and the level of exposure that participants consent to experience in creative sharing or critical reflection. This can at times be messy, uncomfortable and challenging. Not to mention that, adopting this manner of reflexivity in a theatre-making experience requires the practitioner to commit to, and indeed have the personal capacity to - engage in honest self-awareness and appraisal of their own behavior and a sharing of this reflection to some degree. Again, this can mean a messy negotiation of personal boundaries for the practitioner.
Such negotiation, to be open to indeterminacy – to allow a space for potentiality - also requires a parity of contribution and a sharing of power among those involved that in turn affects the position and approach of the theatre-maker. It requires a non-heirarchical approach. In my own practice, I relate this to adopting Eve Sedgewick’s (2003) concept of a position of alongsideness with co-collaborators.
It is also why allowing indeterminancy is key in that it encourages an approach to facilitation that really interrogates and resists presuppositions the practitioner might bring to the process and encourages a letting go of control.
In turn, this supports an ecology of human to human relation – acts of boosted aliveness - as collaborators are propelled by the affect of creative inter-relation.