Last month I asked what works of performance had changed the world around you. Responses were eclectic and fascinating. From Wagner's Parsifal at the Met, to a first experience with Holy Body Tattoo, through to Neworld's King Arthur, it was a list of introductions and recollection. I loved it. I hope you will indulge me with another question. Tis the season for indulgence after all!
What does creation mean?
Gather round all ye people. It's the time of the twinkling lights. All based on a story of an expectant mother who couldn't get into the inn and the subsequent birth of a child. No one knows how the child came to be. Yikes! Even if the child was immaculately conceived (and Joseph never said otherwise) or if the child was born through in vitro… still…the CREATION started when? Or let’s jump traditions and go to another child, some would argue a non-binary kid, Dionysus, who popped out of Zeus’ leg. Even if this really happened… still…the CREATION ended when? Surely not when the child sprang from the big male god's leg. It's hard to pin down beginnings, same with endings. It's part of the reason I love stories. So much. They tidy the messiness of life. I wonder, when does the creation of tidiness start? When does it end? If not at birth, if not at death, when?
Is the opening of a show the end of creation?
Also during this time of twinkling lights, Hanukkah celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people from Greek rule. The Greeks had outlawed many Jewish practices, and actively tried to replace Judaism with Hellenism's worship of a certain kind of beauty. Makes me nervous for how the ancient Greeks reacted to the look of a newborn infant! The defeat of the Greeks meant that Jewish traditions and the well being of Jewish lives could begin - again - to blossom. The circumstances for flourishing are necessary ingredients for the creation of rooted, connected and magnificent beauty.
Take the Creation Fund's most recent premiere of The Breathing Hole / Aglu ᐊᒡᓗ. This phenomenal act of creation began with a story that was picked up by a playwright, and was then first produced by the Stratford Festival. Next up, in a magical set of circumstances, after it looked like the child might not make it to its first day of school, Indigenous and English Theatre at the NAC worked together to support its future. To quote Indigenous Theatre’s Managing Director Lori Marchand, they did it "in a good way", so that the child could make it to the schoolyard with all the other kids. Very recently, that gorgeous child played on every corner of the stage in the Babs Asper Theatre at the NAC. If that same straight A student wishes to travel, more forces, working in a good way, will enter the kid's life and the beautiful spirit at the core of this show will grow and transform some more. Creation will keep going.
The Fund was one of the first to support the idea of translating Ann-Marie MacDonald's breakout novel, Fall On Your Knees, for the stage. In a recent conversation, Hannah Moscovitch, its writer, relayed how she had been working on this project for eleven years. I laughed. She didn't. Wow. The scope and scale of this project is enormous. It needs a lot of hands to get it walking, talking, moving, singing and dancing. In January, in co-production with the National Arts Centre, it will finally meet its first audiences in Toronto at Canadian Stage. Then it will meet audiences again in Ottawa, London and Halifax. This is a performance event whose gestational period outstrips the elephants! I can't wait for you to meet the production on its various stages! And while we're at it... Forgiveness, an adaptation of Mark Sakamoto's book by Hiro Kanagawa, is also opening at the Arts Club in Vancouver. It's an exciting new year!
Shows aren’t suddenly born. Nor are they suddenly ready to walk onto the stages of the world. Like children, productions come into being through any number of ways: a chance encounter at a water cooler, a walk in the woods, a particularly inspiring lecture, a glass of wine, an unspeakably beautiful sunrise or sunset, the end of the world, a power outage, a hate crime, a brave act, a trick, a prayer. Kismet. What are the next best steps to prepare the coming out party of the gametes who by chance - or by design - connect?
For a creation project, like a child, we imagine all manner of things. Research, early enrollment in daycare, elementary school, prenatal classes, RESP, a bigger apartment, a new bed, unexpected urges, lots of pizza and ice cream. A family extending. Email trees and family Facebook pages. Calendars, back up plans, faith, money, advice, hand me downs, terror, tears and all kinds of growth. Also a due date. There is lots of planning.
So you’ve been to the water cooler, and now you have a due date. Are you ready for the next steps? Cutting the cord? What about the surges of oxytocin love and the sleeplessness? Are you and your creation partners ready to leave the birthing room and take the child out into the world of production and expectation? How's your crib? Do you have the room booked? The proper lighting? What about the disco ball or mobile? Are the musical compositions aligning to soothe, enliven, delight? And do you have the right protocols in place for health? What about monitors for communication? How are you going to let everyone know about your new project - erm - child? There is a lot of planning.
A lot of people will say how truly ugly a newborn is. I believe this is sacrilege! But from what everyone says, the initial "WTF!" soon flourishes into a teeny wonder and splendour followed by "what the heck are we supposed to do with this creature?"
Care for it. Raise it in a good way. Love it. Nurture it. Delight in it and watch it grow. Its miracle becomes all of ours. Its accomplishments become all of ours. It offers us hope for new ways of living and working. Creation is hope. At the National Creation Fund we are looking at ways to support the length of the journey. To encourage the companies that we invest in to imagine their “but-a-dream” walking into its first day of school and onward into its glorious new world. Right? Right!!!!
To take us out of 2022 I want to share a new initiative. It’s called the Creation Lounge. Picture the water cooler or the sunset, and you might catch a glimpse of how the lounge might roll out. No matter what… 2023 will bring you some deets.
In the meantime, let’s raise these projects together. Let’s figure out all the ways we can support the kid. Oh! And from all of us at the National Creation Fund, Anicée, Chris, Jean-Paul, Sarah and me, we wish you all the best for the new year.
You inspire us. Each and every one of you. Keep it coming. Thank you for caring about creation, and for coming on this journey with us.
What does creation mean to you?
SGS, Artistic Producer