Excerpt | Theatre of Transformation

by Rama Mani, coming in Kosmos Journal, Fall | Winter 2016

Time for a Paradigm Change

We aren’t here just to make a little noise. We’re here to change the paradigm. – Neema Namadamu, peacemaker, DR Congo

Today, the world appears to hurtle towards irreversible manmade disaster on all fronts. However, breakdowns are being accompanied by breakthroughs. Since 2000, as crises have multiplied, decision-makers have persisted in buttressing dysfunctional systems and paradigms. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens on all continents have initiated polyphonous, creative movements to reimagine the world and shape new paradigms.

These new paradigms aren’t imposed on us; they emerge through us. At last, we humans aren’t sidelined to the margins of history as spectators at best and victims at worst. Now, we’re called to its epicenter to assume our roles as authors, artists, actors, and co-creators of the world taking shape around and through us. The stage is set; the curtains are quivering.

At this juncture of dissolution and regenesis, we are invited to treat this global drama of destruction as a ‘Theatre of Transformation.’

Reclaiming the Theatre of our Lives and our World

I realized I first had to free myself from myself. That was the hardest part. – Lamia, community leader, Palestine

The word ‘theatre’ tingles with possibility, yet for many people it rings hollow. It doesn’t evoke the participatory or cathartic experiences of Greek comedy or tragedy, despite the spread of engaging theatrical forms like forum, street, and applied theatre. Our association with theatre may be as spectators to pre-scripted performances. It may be the theatre of war or the theatrics of Wall Street, where politicians and investors make decisions thwarting our will and emptying our pockets. It may be the operating theatre, where we undergo surgery under anesthesia. For many, theatre is a place of diversion, subjection, or unconsciousness.

Theatre of Transformation invites us to reclaim the theatre of our lives as a space of agency. It presents the world as it is today: terrible, tragic, and tremendously ripe for transformation. It rekindles the immensity of our human compassion and awakens the farthest expanses of our imagination. Then it takes us into a pristine realm where nothing is yet scripted; everything is open for redefinition and evolution. Here, there are no rehearsed roles, no stage directors to manage our movements, and no prescribed decor. Now, we are called to express and enact what the present moment demands and what the future calls forth from each one of us.

Jean Houston says we are living in Kairotic time, when the portals of probability open and anything can happen or can be brought into happening by us. Kronos, chronological time, yields to Kairos, loaded time, the moment of fundamental possibility.

Theatre of Transformation conjures Kairos, a space unfettered by chronological time, where, as in dreamtime, the clock is suspended and possibilities abound. Here, it summons our inherent creativity to shape the emerging moment. As we reclaim the theatre of life, we endow each moment with artistry. We resuscitate beauty in everything we experience. We breathe imagination back into being.

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