According to Einstein, if an observer gets on a bus on Courtney Place and gets off an Manners street, the bus they get off will be the same as the bus they got on to, but the shops nearby will be quite different, except for MacDonalds, which is constant. However, the clock on the bus will be entirely random in relation to a clock that you carry with you onto the bus- for example, the clock on the bus may say 7.04 and the clock on your phone will say 2.55. These numbers exist entirely independent of one another, and there is no way to predict what the difference between these numbers will be before entering the bus.
According to Einstein, if I am standing at one end of the bus, and the bus is travelling at speed a fraction of the speed of light, and I walk back down the bus while observing both the clock on my phone and clock at the front of the bus, I am likely to fall over and hurt myself. The same applies if I don't sit down fast enough as the bus accelerates from the stop. No-one knows why this is.
Dealing with future-tension
As a living person, you will constantly face future-tension in your existence. A future-tension is any anxiety or fear of a future event or events that could inhibit you from living successfully in the present.
To deal with future-tensions safely, you should get into the habit of using the future-tension action plan and system of prediction-action described in this section.
The future-tension action plan
When you're going about your day you should always be:
For example, if there are children playing near the kerb. Using the system of predaction, identify if your anxiety stems from the fear that they may run out after a ball or after each other. If so, choose a course as far away from the children as possible (while still keeping on your side of the road), check the mirror, use the brakes, slow down and relax.
The system of predaction
This system is a safe and simple method of acting on instant predictions that will help you deal with future-tensions effectively. It ensures you are always positioned in the right place in the present, as you travel into the future (at the right speed and in the right attire).
Use this system when you approach any type of future-tension.
Predict: self-identify likeliest outcome of any given circumstance (use your instincts)
Group: check frequently what others around you see as most likely scenario (wisdom of the crowd)
Action: choose a safe and legal path.
Pause: if you don't know the best way forward, just stop and think about it for a minute, do not charge blindly on.
Attire: select the correct clothes for the action you have chosen.
Accelerate: continue your chosen course with increasing confidence and power to leave the future-tension.
It's been about a year and a half since we started Scratch Nights, and a year since we opened them up into a public platform. In that time we have been host to such a lot of new work and ideas, it seemed necessary to reflect on WTF just happened as we head into what will hopefully only be a brief hiatus.
Scratch Nights were, for us, a chance to shake off the that debilitating back clinging monkey, by name of End-Result. With no pressure to produce anything within a specific timeframe we were free to just fap out idea after idea and translate them immediately into performance. Every fortnight for about 3 months we came up with a whole new 40 odd minutes of performance. Sometimes they were old bits that had been reimagined; sometimes they were brilliant (or not) sparks of inspiration that had struck during another process only to be quietly shelved in the interest of the work as a whole; whatever we did, it was always rough.
During that rapid burst creativity, comparable only in pace and magnitude to the Cambrian Explosion, we almost inadvertently developed a number of new performance pieces that are currently in various states of realisation, including, Posties (internal mail delivering clowns), Guilt (the process of which was nimbly captured by Theo Taylor in this short doco), Quiz Night and a whole series of games involving headphones that we don't quite know what to do with yet.
After a while we started to run into other projects and simultaneously out of energy, but by which stage we were feeling confident in hosting the platform for all comers. This involved four week cycles of panic and relief as we attempted to curate and make our own contributions all in the same breath. The consistency with which artists and groups would materialise just days before the scratch night with a new concept to test was matched only by the regular attendance of the audience, who remarkably turned out month after month to see these guys trying out their weird ideas and works-in-progress. Some of those pieces were transcendental, some...didn't go as well, but as they say risk and reward go hand-in-hand and that is just as much, if not more, the case in performance as anywhere else. Hosting these nights I was witness to a ludicrous amount of experimentation in duration, repetition, interaction, scatology, psychology and physical duress, amongst other things.
Anyway 11 of those down, and we were starting to get increasingly diverse audiences and diverse artists coming to have a crack. This at least confirms to me that there is a need for this type of platform. I know that a lot of what went on was half-baked, but I think that's what audiences and performers liked about it, there was no expectation that it would be polished, so both were free to relish in what it was. There were some key factors that I feel helped contribute to that: the fact that the audience and performer were more on the same level, a bar space, rather than a theatre space; that there was the feeling of working through something together in the moment - that the performer was asking for as much from the audience as they were asking of her; and finally that any koha was offered at the end. You'll be amazed at how much you more you enjoy watching or doing something if you know the transaction is a mutual, as opposed to a commercial, one.
Scratch nights are not a new thing, and they're becoming more prevalent - with versions popping up in Auckland and Christchurch. I think it is part of a wider movement towards the democratisation of performance, and part of the answer to increasing and broadening engagement. They have huge potential for drawing out riskier ideas that might otherwise never make it to a public platform due to fear of failure when the stakes are higher - and if there's one thing we don't need in our performing arts, it's timidness.
There are many more issues and questions about the sustainability, purpose and future of scratch nights that I could get into, but I won't right now. However if you're interested in further reading I recommend having at look at this excellent series of articles on scratch nights and work-in-progress showings written by our friends in the UK, Getinthebackofthevan. I hope we or someone else can bring these back in the not too distant future, but in the meantime I'm satisfied that we had a decent hash at it, and that theatre was the winner on the day.
Written by Joel Baxendale, Scratch Nights producer
*Scratch Nights were hosted in the Understudy Bar at Bats Theatre Out-Of-Site and supported by the Wellington City Council Creative Communities scheme, and would not have been possible without this generous support.
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