In live arts, production is the logistics department, dealing with the practicalities that are necessary in order to make work. It can seem like an unattractive and overwhelming job, but without production there would be nothing but ideas and inspirations. Practical aspects need to be taken care of in order to bring anything into existence. The I-Ching, an ancient Chinese divination and philosophy text, describes this synergy as the confluence of heaven and earth, of potential and materiality. There is no creation if one of them is lacking. Where am I in the continuum between creativity and practicality? How are these two aspects working to manifest my potential?
An artist’s practice keeps their creativity and tools available and ready to use. Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”. In the case of live artists, this is even more the case. Paintbrushes, chisels, canvases or clay do not degrade when they are not used. However, the performer’s instrument does and may not be ready to be used when inspiration comes. Every life has special moments of opportunity, beauty, joy and wonder. When we are in practice with our instrument, these inspirations do not pass us by and we can live them to the full.
We are used to the idea that theatre, dance and music pieces are written and set, so that every interpretation is a reproduction of the original within a certain margin for variation. Notation can never capture every detail of action. The map can never be as rich as the territory. Already in the Baroque period, composers wrote scores that provided a backbone for musicians to improvise to. Wanting to perform a set script for our life is bound to bring frustration, because there is so much out of our control. However, we all have needs and preferences in life that we want to address. How about using a score to compose in real time in order to keep the essential orientation while remaining open and flexible regarding the way in which progress?
We are making choices every instant. We may be aware of it and choose consciously or merely choose by default and not use our creativity. Just like a performance is shaped by every single member of the team, every single thing one does contributes to what happens in life. You can act by default or you can take responsibility in your role as co-creator, you choose.
Life is unfolding live. It’s happening as you witness it and take part in it. There is no chance for a second take. Whatever happens, the show just goes on, there is no time out. That means every moment is significant and can’t be repeated or modified. Performing live is exhilarating, and so is life when we are in touch with this.
This series shows the usefulness of live-arts concepts and practices for everyday life. This view is not original and can already be found in notions like “All the world’s a stage” (Shakespeare) and Shiva’s cosmic dance that cyclically creates and destroys the universe. These 90 daily posts are based on these metaphors and offer practical inspirations to interact with life. You can find them all together under the category with the same title in the top right-hand corner of any blog page.