Friday, May 25, 2007

The connectedness of all things

Paul and I went into London yesterday, for an interview with a journalist. On the train, we re-visited (as we have done thousands of times before) the value of what we do. The value of two men talking. Not the name of our performance, that is, but of men actually talking to one another about all the things that are difficult to face or to deal with.
Somewhere along the line of being taught what to do and what not to do, I learned that there were four things one never talks about at a dinner party. Sex, religion, politics and money. Why? Because those are the areas where people are likely to have strong feelings and where there are bound to be disagreements. One thing that wasn't mentioned on the not to talk about at dinner parties list was death. Probably because that was not necessary. We are part of a cultural aversion to talking about death.
Well, in twomentalking we talk about it all -and we do it by telling stories to one another and to the audience. Although there are certain assumptions and opinions underlying the stories I tell, my focus when telling is to stick - as much as I possibly can - to my own persona experience. No-one can possibly disagree with my experience, if I simply tell what happened to me.
And when I am listening, to give my full attention to Paul's experience. Indeed, our cardinal principle in twomentalking is that there is a reciprocal relationship between listening and telling. We connect not only by talking, which is active and behaviorally observable, but also by listening, which is less obvious. What is difficult is not so much what one has to say, but rather being able to listen to what someone else has to say without going into a reactive state.
There is a lot of tough stuff we have to listen to these days, and it is hard, very hard. When 9/11 happened, it was such a perfect opportunity to stop and listen to what the state of things was in the world. But what did we do instead? We attacked.
Nature is speaking loudly too. Global warming. Ice caps melting. Have we stopped to listen? What will it take?
This is what I mean by connectedness - being able to truly listen to what is going on around us.
And to realize that we are all part of it all.
This state of connectedness is what I mean when I talk about the sacred space that twomentalking is. Before each performance, we look out into the audience. We do not do this to embarrass anyone, to pick on anyone or to suggest that we are going to ask anyone to do anything. Rather, it is a moment to express that we are all in this together. We are on the stage telling our stories. But it would not happen in this particular way without those specific people in the audience. I could go on, but we have a performance in Letchworth and Bernd will be here to pick us up in 15 minutes.


Blogger pat walker said...

Dear Paul and Murray, I heard you talking last night in Letchworth and came away from that small theatre feeling privileged. You shared yourselves with us in such an honest and direct way, it was as though you were in my sitting room and I was a trusted friend.
You have interesting stories to tell and you have lived through interesting times politically. It is a rare skill to be able to ask oneself, 'what do I want to say?' and then to say it so simply and honestly.
I loved the singing, especially the Hebrew, and your re-creation of childhood and schooldays through mime and voice.
Your presence was powerful, even before you spoke. Please, if you have other stories to tell, write them and perform them for us.
Politicians of the world should see your piece and learn from it how to communicate. There might be less conflict.
I wish you both success for the future and for Paul continued good health.
With thanks and very best wishes, Patricia Walker

4:25 AM  
Blogger Paul Tjasink said...

I saw you guys at Letchworth too and really enjoyed it. (Enjoyed is the wrong word.) I loved the details and the sensory recollections, both I realised key to good story-telling. But it was the intimacy that made the difference and transformed it into more than a performance. I started to think about the therapy room (my partner, Megan, and I are both psychotherapists; she's S'African to boot) and was struck by some similarities between the intimacy and relationship you were engendering in the theatre space and those we develop with clients/patients. Both can/should be intimate and yet neither is the same as a "regular" friendship. I was really interested in the theme of recognition too.

Your stories, and senses of you, will stay with me for a long time. Thanks.

By the way, if you guys are knocking around the London area at some point in the future, I run a charity there and would be very interested in exploring a workshop type thing with you.


10:29 AM  
Blogger Mark and Diana said...

Dear Paul and Murray, I was part of your conversation June 19 Trafalgar Studios London. With me was my friend, Enone, a psychiatrist living in London for the past 15 years. Both of us, South African, myself and family recently uprooted to Istanbul. Enone recently separated, we had spent the week telling each other our stories. It was also the second anniversary of losing my daughter, Ruby Rose. My husband, Mark and I decided to terminate our pregnancy after a Downs diagnosis. As things had happened Ruby visited good fortune on me. June 13 found me attending David Hockney's lecture at the Royal Academy where he said he painted his latest Yorkshire landscapes because nobody else saw it quite the way he did, so he had to make a picture of it.
For me, a painter, it was an amazing and timely affirmation. As was "two men talking";
Of course Enone and I immediately related to your rich, sometimes funny, sometimes painful evokations of South African experience, and also to your experiences of exile in a foreign land, but it was the warmth and frank honesty of your conversation with each other, and with us the audience that has stayed with me. It also echoed for me the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, and the amazing courage with which ordinary people told their stories, and the healing started in that, not only for them but for all who listened.
You created a sacred space on that stage in Trafalgar Studios, and we all listened.
I thank you both.

Diana Page
ps: Enone and I were the ones you saw dashing out of the artshop near Soho the next day, having just purchased a new easel.

4:32 AM  

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