Sometimes I think that having someone to play with can make all the difference to how successful you are as an artist. Of course some art forms are by their nature solitary such as; writing, composing, painting, sculpture and so on however the desire to engage, debate, question and explore is always better shared. Living in a bubble never does anyone any good. Nothing good comes out of a bubble. This question often pops into my head when I find myself floating through a gathering like a ghostly apparition as I was on Friday evening at the launch of the Theatre Development Centre in The Triskel Arts Centre, Cork.
The Centre is in my view a huge step forward for the arts in Cork. A space dedicated to the development of new work, a free space for practitioners to investigate, experiment and collaborate on new work, new ideas. Most importantly the centre insists that artists perform their work in progress before an audience at the end of their weekly residency. This single rule gives artists an impetus, a discipline and much needed feedback and constructive criticism. It can only be a good thing.
There were many people at the opening, there was plenty of wine and beer and delicious nibbles and Plugd and Gulpd – who are also now based in the Triskel and are one of Ireland’s finest independent record shops and now coffee shops – did a fantastic job of hosting the event.
I recognised a few faces. Some I was delighted to see as I hadn’t seen them in a long time, but most were strangers and I spent over an hour sitting, mostly by myself, smoking, drinking, fiddling with my phone, tweeting, looking vacant, day dreaming, slouching into my chair, mooching and wondering how did it get to this. How did I miss out on all the play these happy people, happy groups are involved in? Or was it simply the case that this was a visit to another island of people that I needed to build a bridge towards. Either way the question was there, raised its head. Play. What benefit is it to us?
Many moons ago Wolfgang Hoffman, an inspirational man and co – founder of the wonderful Fabrik dance theatre company in Potsdam and the Aurora Nova venue at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival said to me “Moray, you have to find someone to play with”. How right he was. Working by yourself is tiring and inward focussed. It can be stressful, taxing and often you can’t see the wood from the trees. You can find yourself stuck in a groove that is going nowhere, your eyes wide shut. Whereas through play you give yourself the opportunity to see the same problem from many angles, get the space to try things out, see if they work, grow in confidence, get a reality check every so often. Playing with someone means you’re constantly re – assessing your work, having to explain yourself, be tighter, concise. It is a luxury I never really had even when I was working with other people.
Perhaps it is a state of mind, a way of being, a natural disposition that comes more easily to some than others. I find it difficult. I have always been solitary. I have never felt part of a group. I have always felt outside looking in and while that has its own advantages it leaves you with a mind full of questions, theories and dreams and no one to share them with.
In many ways this is why I set up mutantspace.com. It was my way of playing. By creating a space dedicated to experimentation, sharing and collaboration I could, perhaps, succeed in opening a door to endless possibilities – where many times before I failed – while giving everyone the opportunity to meet each other and play. For it is only through play that we enrich the world and give it our greatest gifts. Never underestimate the power of play and if you haven’t found someone to play with don’t give up looking – never stop the search. I certainly haven’t.
Just in finishing, mutantspace.com will be the unofficial/official arts resource for the Theatre Development Centre in the Triskel Arts Centre and after much discussion with Corcadorca Theatre Company, who are running the space; we shall be listed, posted, etc there in the next number of weeks. It’s a good move and will hopefully leading to exciting adventures in the future
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