All living creatures are born with a survival instinct. In order to survive spiders spin webs. In order to survive humans spin stories – about who they are, where they come from and where they are going. For us there is nothing more important than these stories. They are the essence of our life, the backbone of our identity.
Identity is a story about who we are and what we want. In order to survive in the harsh world our stories must be true and have deep insight. A false story can lead us to delusion and a dead-end, even death. As our landscape is ever-changing, our stories are in constant process of readjustment. The story is a map. If it does not correspond to the landscape, we are lost, as in a jungle.
From early childhood we are hungry for stories. Through stories we study life, we prepare for it. We learn about contrasts, contradictions, conflicts – we learn the drama of our lives: Little Red Riding Hood against the wolf, good against evil, love against hate, truth against lies, “what is” against “what seems”, Hamlet against Elsinor.
We have a heartfelt need to understand our story, to see our reflection, to recognise our face, to take courage. We yearn to compare our story with other stories, to examine where they are the same, where similar and where totally different. We crave a master storyteller who will read the runes for us, take off the masks, connect causes and consequences, offer us signposts.
The story is sometimes an unarticulated shriek, sometimes a harmonic melody; sometimes dark and opaque like an ex-ray image, sometimes colourful and merry like a fairytale, sometimes funny or terrible, or indeed sometimes both. But one thing is clear: no culture can survive without a true, powerful and authentic story! Indeed culture IS a true, powerful and authentic story.
Theatre is a mighty workshop and an engine for storytelling. In the theatre the story is not only TOLD, but also SHOWN. It happens here and now, in front of us – it is within our reach. Theatre is a battlefield on which we sharpen the tools of our story, we weave its tapestry, we flex the muscle of our consciousness and our conscientiousness, we adjust the sights of our action, we study life.