This is a private essay on a public platform — the beginning of a dialogue with Maddy Costa about ‘Something Other’, which is a project we’ve been working on together for the past few months. Why start this dialogue now? Because SO is proving slippery — hard to describe, difficult to pin down, impossible to make tangible.
I don’t know where to start, so I’ll start in the middle. There are a lot of things I’m all-talked-out about, and I’d like to cast them off straight away: Something Other is not and is not about documentation, reviewing, the state of theatre criticism today, nostalgia, the end of print media, gaming, youth or social networking.
(But one of our problems is that we don’t have a name for what it is yet. So we keep repeating these conversations, defining ourselves as part of what we’re not.)
It is, instead, I think, tentatively, an attempt to explore what happens when you assume: 1) a fascination with the live event — theatre, performance, life; 2) an interest in writing as a tool, a technology, and a fabric that mediates, colours, extends and transforms (live) experience; 3) a curiosity about ‘digital space’ (for want of a better phrase), as part of life and the live, as well as between it; and 4) an interest in the differences between these three modes of being.
(What is ‘digital space’? Why do I feel like I need permission to use those words?)
The differences between these modes are not, I think, to do with a distinction between the live and the digital, or between writing and performance, or between ‘real life’ and ‘digital space’. The differences lie between them as types of experience and paradigms of knowledge.
(All of this flows from and for a world in which we assume people talk about art and ideas, and that this talking about art and ideas constitutes and perpetuates art and ideas, and so on. I think this means that what we are doing is (not) art and it is (not) about art all at the same time.)
But perhaps this is a point where you and I diverge, Maddy. I am interested in how writing communicates first, and in what it communicates (a close) second. Whereas for you, I think the relationship is the other way round. I am not so much motivated by having something to say as I am by exploring how it is possible to say anything at all, although the two are intertwined.
What about you?
(It is late. This is late. It is a provocation, which starts in the middle, and ends in a different, messy, middle, right here.)
To be continued ….