WHAT IS PRECARIOUS THEATRE?
So, you want to know what Precarious Theatre is? Well, let’s start by looking at the two words we have chosen to define us. First, ‘Precarious’, a natural description for a theatre company founded in the early 21st century without explicit financial backing and with only the hunger to create new and exciting theatre as sustenance. But away from this, perhaps, tongue-in-cheek reasoning, for us, precarity is a kind of goal. We seek to run head first towards the precipice of the possible. To take risks. To ask: what is the limit? Where is the edge? And it is this moment post-leap, suspended in action, full of freedom, that we seek to capture. Off-balance, off-kilter - a flash of aliveness, energy and intensity. It is another kind of balance between the leap and the fall. Motion in stasis - complete control of wild momentum. That is what makes our theatre ‘precarious’.
Now for ‘theatre’. We are, after all, a theatre company, producing theatre as our product. But, of course, it is more than mere description. We, inevitably, exist in a nexus of theatre stretching back thousands of years. Some points of this nexus loom over us as idols weigh upon the confused followers of shamanistic religions. We are bound to the past by its grasping tendrils and sirens’ song, enticing us to turn back but we must not build on the good old days but bad new ones.
We are a theatre company, interested in producing theatre as a unique art form, not theatre as imitation of what it is not. Questions form: what makes theatre unique? What makes it special? Because it is! There is something magical in the fluctuations and vibrations found in the rehearsal room. Something intensely vital and human in the connection between actor and audience. Something that draws us in, that makes us yearn for the immediacy of performance - it’s dirtiness, it’s messiness. The blood and sweat of bodies in motion, given over to physical communication.
And here is the crux! Human beings entwined in a ritual of communication. For audience and performer alike, the theatrical communion is a moment of extreme aliveness. It raises the hair on one’s skin, contorts the face and with mighty gasp, we inhale the possibilities of our own humanity and our cold processors begin to warm to the prospect of questioning what it means to be alive? If Precarious Theatre seeks anything, it seeks a theatre of humanity.
As gestured before, we do not exist as ahistorical utopian objects. As a human theatre, we are woven into history’s clumsy web. To be human is to be historical - to acknowledge the passing and passage of time - to exist now as an iteration of the past and a dreamer of the future. We, as Precarious Theatre, exist similarly as a cultural totem. Which is to say, as the sum of history, in dialogue with said history but grappling with the present and chasing a better future. ‘Do not build on good old days but bad new ones’ - a phrase stolen from Brecht that is more complex than it appears. A mantra that encourages us to disregard the past despite its potential value and to construct on the shaky foundations of today. And yet we cannot escape the good old days. We are their lost children, haunted by them, tormented by them at every moment - their songs echo throughout our halls.
Brecht’s statement is a call to arms, not to be enticed by the siren’s song but rather attempt to innovate in the tragic landscape of the present - no matter how impossible this may be. It is a battle cry, bellowing forward from a moment of possibility, demanding we build our theatre on the shaky foundations of the present, aware of its inevitably Brechtian beams, Artaudian bricks and Meyerholdian floors. A precarious task towards an unstable and striving theatre, torn asunder by historical demands seemingly beyond possibility. Let all of humanity in through the cracks in our walls. Let them come and see what remains of us after all this. Let them look through the shattered windows, into kaleidoscopic mirrors and let them play in light refracted until the blood pumps and the sweat pours that we might learn something about what it means to be alive.
28th October 2022