"I fire a pistol at the spectator - I did so once - and for a second I have the possibility to reach
him in a different way. I must relate this possibility to a purpose, otherwise a moment later
he is back where he was: inertia is the greatest force we know.
I know a sheet of blue - nothing but the color blue - blueness is a direct statement that arouses
an emotion, the next second that impression fades: I hold up a brilliant flash of scarlet -
a different impression is made, but unless someone can grab this moment, knowing
why and how and what for - it too begins to wane. The trouble is that one can easily find
oneself firing the first shots without any sense of where the battle could lead. One look at the
average audience gives us an irresistible urge to assault it - to shoot first and ask questions
This is the road to the Happening. A Happening is a powerful invention, it destroys at one blow
many deadly forms of Theatre. (...) Behind the Happening is the shout "wake up!"
(...) Very easily a Happening can be no more than a series of mild shocks followed by let-downs
which progressively combine to neutralize the further shocks before they arrive.
(...) The instant must be used, but how, what for? (...)
again the debate of form (...*) formless, freedom (...*) discipline.
It is all very well to use crumbs of Zen to assert the principle that existence is existence, that
every manifestation contains within it all of everything (...) but Religious teaching - including
Zen - asserts that the visible-invisible cannot be seen automatically - it can only be seen under
certain conditions. The conditions can relate to a certain state or to a certain understanding.
In any event to comprehend the visibility of the invisible is a life's work.
There is Merce Cunningham. Stemming from Martha Graham, he has evolved a dance company
whose daily exercises are a continual preparation for the shock of freedom. A classical dancer
is trained to observe and follow every detail of movement that he is given. He has trained his
body to obey, his technique is his servant, so that instead of being wrapped up in the doing of
the movement he can let the movement unfold in intimate company with the unfolding of the
music. Merce Cunningham's dancers use their discipline to be more aware of the fine currents
that flow within a movement as it unfolds for the first time. (...) When they improvise - as
notions are born and flow between them - the intervals have shape, so that the rhythms can be
sensed as just and the proportions as true: all is spontaneous and yet there is order.
In silence there are many potentialities; chaos or order, muddle or pattern, all lie fallow
- the invisible made visible is of a sacred nature."
We experimented with and came to reject the traditional language of masks and make-ups
as no longer appropriate. We experimented with silence.
We set out to discover the relations between silence and duration: we needed an audience so
that we could set a silent actor in front of them to see the varying lengths of attention he could
command. Then we experimented with ritual in the sense of repetitive patterns, seeing how it
is possible to present more meaning, more swiftly than by a logical unfolding of events.
Our aim for each experiment, good or bad, successful or disastrous, was the same:
can the invisible be made visible through the performer's presence?"
Peter Brook in "The Empty Space"
Touchstone edition 1996, NY
first published in 1986
* here there was the word 'against' but this may be/is, still, a larger and deeper debate
for performance arts if the comparison article is left open