Funding and Punding
We all know what funding is but who knows what punding is?
A stereotypy (/ˈstɛriː.ɵtaɪpi/, "stair-ee-oh-teye-pee") is a repetitive or ritualistic movement, posture, or utterance. Stereotypies may be simple movements such as body rocking, or complex, such as self-caressing, crossing and uncrossing of legs, and marching in place. They are found in people with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, tardive dyskinesia and stereotypic movement disorder; studies have shown stereotypies associated with some types of schizophrenia. Frontotemporal dementia is also a common neurological cause of repetitive behaviors and stereotypies. Several causes have been hypothesized for stereotypy, and several treatment options are available.
What's the connection I hear you say. Yesterday I went through the ritual of applying for funding for theatre projects: Hours spent in front of a computer, installing programs just so I could apply, staring at my words on the screen, trying to figure out if what I'm saying makes sense and fits the criteria. The competition is stiff and with the sun shining outside I sometime wonder am I wasting my life away seeking funding to create or should I just do what I say I'd like to do. Funding like punding is gathering bits of information into little piles, like my Dad does with dust. He had Parkinson's and this annoying repetitive behaviour used to get on my nerves until it was explained to us by a neurologist as a symptom of the onset of dementia for people suffering neurological disorders such as Parkinson's. Of course there are a lot of strange modes of behaviour all around us and none more so than the ritualistic performance we go through everyday of lives. This ritual is our culture that defines our thoughts and actions and almost everything we daily do.
I've noticed some of my own rituals and what happens when for one reason or another that ritual is upset. I went to get my teeth cleaned on the eve of St Patrick's Day: I was going to be in the parade and I was told by our town councillor that RTE were going to be there so naturally I had to have my telly teeth smile ready and waiting to flash for the cameras and eye of the Nation. What nonsense! Of course I didn't get them cleaned because of the TV but because I drink two to three expressos daily as well as cups of tea so my teeth have gradually faded to fifty shades of grey and yellow. I wouldn't really care except I like to smile and became conscious that it might not be such as an attractive or healthy sight for the fairer sex whose pearly whites shine back at me. In an image conscious and somewhat superficial world we subconsciously notice the signs of aging and ill-health in the whites our eyes, our posture and facial expression. In brief once we step out there we're on stage and we aim to give a pleasing performance for all to see.
Which brings me to my application for a theatre trilogy I've been working on for some time. Not yet completed but well on its way:
I’ve written, performed and had publicly performed readings of a collection of literary and theatrical pieces that examine, from an autoethnogrpahic perspective, our dramatically orientated culture as we move towards a postdramatic automated society. Stories shape our lives but it is the dramatic narrative that defines the structure of our lives. Storytellers are the narrators that shape the spect-actors thoughts and actions. We speak truth to power when our words are given voice but we rarely question the social environment that shapes our own story. In theatre we’ve moved from community dialogue to professional monologue and I am moving back again to engage with audiences. I chose a rural setting to create with everyday experts because there’s a growing market and need for creative facilitators in rural community theatre. The organisation and performances I’m creating promote dialogue and local participation alongside professional representation to address the role of theatrical performance in shaping our culture. I’m looking at practical and participatory ways in real life contexts as well as dramatic representation to address how we deal with psycho-social dislocation in our environment. Working with other professionals the goal is to effectively communicate through theatrical representation to examine dysfunctional relationships and transform behavioural patterns through conscious performance.
The trilogy of performances will go from the individual to societal experiences by way of a Dantesque-like journey from urban isolation to reintegration and existential acceptance of personal responsibility for community, culture and environment. I’m not a prophet but trying to create performances as a rehearsal for life. These are works designed to reengage our creative and childlike imagination using theatrical practices from Aristotelian dramatic practices to Shakespearean soliloquy to post Beckettian theatrical practices where theatre plays an active role in shaping society. I’m concerned about the role of technology as a means of speaking truth to power by virtue of its omnipotent presence in capturing and controlling our actions. On our mulit-media world stage our attachment to technology is effectively replacing rather than representing humanity while theatre is about making our presence felt through the collective unconscious transformed by the theatrical gathering.
The pieces come together in a non-linear narrative moving from dramatic techniques and influence to postdramatic transparency examing the creative editing process of the leisure industry using multi-disciplinary performing arts and multi-media, to the rawer documentary style theatre back towards community theatrical performance as a rehearsal for life and active participation. The aim is to preserve and perpetuate theatrical storytelling practices and active participation by many rather than fewer people on stage due to technology and economic circumstances.
It's a never-ending process of discovery throughout life and despite the dis-ease we feel at times within ourselves and the lack of support and funding that seems to block our way, there's our indomitable will to survive and passion to live life free from the shackles of our culture and society, which is as ephemerally brief as our ideas of how to be. Be in the moment, be in the mystery of existence and beauty of being.
In the virtual words of Stephan Hawking or his representation in The Theory of Everything “While there is life there is hope. I beg to assert...that as long as a man's heart beats, as long as a man's flesh quivers, I do not allow that a being gifted with thought and will can allow himself to despair.”
― Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth
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