Theatre from the cracks in the psyche of culture










SCREAM No. 16 August 2003


SCREAM: August 2003

What could be done with interest on $10,000,000?

The landscape through which the visions of Shadow House PITS take place requires a grounded basis for its operation.

Shadow House PITS is seeking a benefactor who is willing to support the aims and programs of Shadow House PITS while at the same time not having to relinquish actual funds. We seek to:

utilize the interest earned on $10,000,000 over a ten year period to fund the operational base of the theatre and multi-media organization, Shadow House PITS.

Effectively the investment being sought is the interest earned on $10,000,000 per annum over ten years plus an initial capital investment of $1,000,000 to be repaid (interest free).

SHADOW HOUSE PITS then urgently requires use of $11,000,000 to achieve its aims and goals for a world renowned theatre with deep cultural, social and artistic significance. We ask a person or organization with the vision, courage and finances to invest in our work to allow us to bring it on to the world stage and bypass the devastating controls of artistic endeavours by Government agencies, appointed committees and big business sponsorships. We ask such a person or organization to support the vision of a new theatre of sculpture that we are proposing.

Such an offer of support will enable Shadow House PITS to:

  1. 1. Develop its artistic techniques in a fully professional setting;

  2. 2. Market and network its activities Internationally;

  3. 3. Engage the very best professionals to undertake these tasks;

  4. 4. Construct a technological state-of-the-art workshop for preparation, experimentation, recording and work-in-progress presentations.

We are not seeking the total funding of the operation. Additional sources of funding will become available through:

  1. 1. sales of artistic products (ie. theatre, film, video, DVD, Internet products, contracted expertise, publications);

  2. 2. sponsorships for individual projects (gained as a result of having professional operational funding);

  3. 3. contracting out of professional expertise and resources.

Apart from the repayable loan for capital expenditure, we are not asking such a benefactor to part with funds. Rather we seek the interest on such funds. This will insure the organization maintains a lean and focused management structure while ensuring its artistic support base.

But why should Shadow House PITS be supported in this way?

World cultures and societies need injections of imagination and intuition in order to survive crises. Shadow House PITS offers an alternative laboratory and performance arena (on-stage, on-screen, on-line) through which human beings may explore the human condition through an art form which links into the very psyche of cultural and personal expression. Central to this is an acceptance of the human condition as being part of a larger natural order. The mysteries of life and existence are the subject of our exploration. The application of theatre process and presentation to areas considered to be the prerogative of religion, or/ and psychology or/and education is simply recognizing theatre's spiritual roots and mystical application.

The use of rites, rituals, symbolic action have all been used to evoke the powers of nature or draw focus for areas of experience that are not easily defined or explained. Sex, power, love, hate, survival, acceptance and rejection and the need for some representation of a paternal god and an all embracing goddess are themes that appear in virtually all layers of art throughout history. However, new technologies pre-empt new modes of expression.

We wish to:

  • create an enlightened artistic beacon to which all like-minded travellers will gravitate and find support for the creation of daring new visions and structures for staging theatrical events;

  • create a centre of constant opposition to the dominant and more orthodox arts practices and, by so doing, be a rejuvenating force able to absorb the resultant flack and throes from the more media dominating and heavily funded centres of arts practice;

  • create and present outstanding theatrical mixed media events and works of art capable of being presented internationally;

  • provide international infra-structural promotions networking with like-minded companies of the third theatre wave which seek cultural and social reform through theatre arts practice and related by-products, writings and practices;

  • promote and stimulate new writing and works of art that inspire local cultural, spiritual and creative exploration in form and content;

  • publish radical writings in theatre arts expression, communication and philosophy;

  • establish an education unit capable of stimulating community knowledge and action in theatre and multi-media challenge to orthodox mass media presentation;

  • establish research and experimentation in erotic arts links with theatrical presentation and social / cultural / psychological perceptions;

  • establish research and experimentation in metaphorical and spiritual cross-cultural referencing for theatrical presentation and audience perceptions;

  • provide cross media links in the development of content for live on-stage, on-screen and on-line presentation.

A Detailed Rationale

Theatre is being largely abandoned by those charged with its propagation. Twenty years of chasing short term goals and monetary outcomes has left theatre bereft of courage, ideals and the energy to live its purpose and function. It's very own proponents don't believe in it enough. Without belief, there is little energy to re-invest. And so we see the phenomena of a theatre constantly chasing its tail for the next big thing and the next big idea to make it happen. It's main inspirations are coming from novels and works created for other media (eg. Tim Winton's Cloud Street). Universities train actors to serve the vanities of petty screen directors and producers intent on serving the interests of advertisers pushing their products. The whole notion of theatre sits uncomfortably with the dominant world view of reality being a constantly packaged commodity. Unlike film, the package can never be easily controlled. There are so many variables. To achieve a return on investment, the ticket price is very high and so theatre becomes an object of elite pursuit.

theatre has little to do with being a product. It is a process of engagement

The trap in using this kind of thinking to justify the disintegration of theatre's relevance is to ignore the social-psychological reasons for its existence in the first place. As a form of expression and communication, theatre has little to do with being a product. It is a process of engagement. The critics will say "yes" but unfortunately, this precludes professional theatre. They argue that there is little point in training actors for a profession which hardly exists any more. Statistically, it can be shown that only a minute percentage of theatre is created by new practitioners and writers (see the Sanctuary Theatre article). Mostly, it is of a museum variety with historical value. The energy for new creations is all in film and television.

Sounds convincing! Until we start to consider the way all social action works. All social achievement and influence commences with people; people meeting people; people sharing idiosyncratic notions of experience and reality; people trying to identify their reality through shared paradigms; people identifying differences; people ...

Why must we assume all reality now must be defined by the controllers of mass media who also happen to buy into arts product (eg. News Ltd.). Theatre is the one performing arts area that exemplifies the relationship between people; people as artists; people as observers; people as participants; people as critics; people as the ocean through which thought travels ... through which artistic observation and creation emerges and manifests itself; through which we are shocked and shaken by the defiance of others in our midst who dare to challenge and proffer alternative view points and assessments of the human laboratory!

"Oh!" exclaims the realist; the arts realist; the pragmatist who seeks the survival of her art form; the practitioner who sees the obvious gaps and weaknesses in the situation we find ourselves in over the past twenty years ... TWENTY YEARS! Theatre's existence dates thousands of years.

So look again. See the people not just the marketing cynicism that dominates and facilitates the arts pragmatists.

And what if one imaginative person with money, reads this document and defies the dominant accepted world view; and this person says "yes" I agree. DO IT! Here's the money!

This would fly in the face of the accepted reality of the situation. Would it not? Because if creating a worthwhile theatre arts experience is only being restricted by money, then what if the money was provided without having to bend the practice of true theatre purposes to the whims of cynicism and agenda control? What if?

Fanciful idealism!

Perhaps! Yet most serious arts practice has come under the control of benign Stalinist style manipulation by uncharismatic controllers with a very narrow focus on the role and function of arts activity at an international, national and local level. This is demonstrated in the myriad of decisions and choices made at a funding level and at an administrative level in arts organization and promotion. The short term focus on "performance outcomes" from within some pre-determined order limits artistic creation to short-sighted and predictable approaches bleeding theatre into irrelevance.

The self-conscious separation of arts from spirituality and social integration is leading to its implosion. The disintegration is from within the processes of its operation and implementation. So irrelevant and marginalized is its perceived role that any serious review of its working and operation is conducted by accountancy firms within an industry paradigm that takes no account of spiritual and social health benefits to a culture and / or society.

The creeping bureaucratic collectivization of arts endeavour and creation is reversing the function of arts as an innovative, imaginative and essentially stimulating process to that of a self conscious matrix of outcomes pitted against marketing research. The individual voice of rage and perception is being constantly blunted and silenced by the will of coercive and institutionalized "expertise".

The vulnerable and tentative steps in an individual creation are being institutionally appropriated by interventions from both monetary and ideological forces that ultimately destroy whatever might appear outside of the acceptable and fashionable forms of presentation. Checks and balances are being applied at all levels of theatre funding and creation that make the presentation of individual insight and perception almost impossible.

The personal 'i' is being jettisoned from both the ideological 'right' and 'left' of the socio/political spectrum. "i" is harder to manage than the self-conscious "we" of perception. "i" is silenced by self-censoring and imposed constraint. "i" becomes identified with the protestant ethic and American individualism. The paradox is lost. For without a strong sense of "i" there is little sense of "we" and what there is can only be made seem real by unseen controllers of agendas to which the "we" sheepishly follows. And so to the darkness at noon and the show trials and the witch hunts and the charletan fields which usurp our stage and platforms for artistic and spiritual expression! It's not only up to the social scientists, the agendists and the high priests to examine the truth and falsehoods which present to social humanity. It is also up to the artists and those who practice the art of theatre.

Shadow House PITS seeks funding to accept this purpose and clarify its function and application in a cluttered world.

Influential Writings

The works of John Ralston Saul, Edward de Bono and Paulo Freire are particularly informative. We also owe a debt to the work of Carl Jung.

The weaving of theories and abstractions with practical applications requires the messy application of emerging paradigms to assist us with this task. We have not completed this process. Even if such completion were desirable, it is unlikely to ever be achieved. All we can do is to add to the growing body of knowledge that relates us to the universe. The acceptance that art and theatre is somehow integral in this process is a hunch that needs backing if it is going to be fully tried and utilized. The very least achievement will be great theatre. The very best will be an advancement of our understanding of ourselves as social beings in relation to an even greater entity through which we exist.

Having said this, Freire's concept of praxis is particularly useful; however far it is outside the closed and tunnel-visioned reference points offered by most theatre arts critiques and rationales for organization and evaluation. We accept its basic premises and wish to apply it to artistic product and creation.

While Saul offers the most useful philosophical framework, de Bono offers highly significant and practical methods for implementation of creative processes and stimulating thinking on an individual level. The assumption in all of this is that our artistic product is not isolated from the labour of the rest of humanity.


Shadow House PITS is seeking a benefactor who is willing to support the aims and programs of Shadow House PITS while at the same time not having to relinquish actual funds. We seek to:

utilize the interest earned on $10,000,000 over a ten year period to fund the operational base of the theatre and multi-media organization, Shadow House PITS.

Effectively the investment being sought is the interest earned on $10,000,000 per annum over ten years plus an initial capital investment of $1,000,000 to be repaid (interest free).

Who is reading this? Who is willing to talk further? Who is willing to commit?

            Trinculo's Shadow

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