Humanity is defined by our large-scale collective delusions. We perform these delusions in relation to each other. They become our agreed-upon realities. We all perform within this framework. It becomes invisible to most of us. We tend to be blind to our own cultural constructs. We are always performing these fictions, willing reality into existence. Theatre gives us a break from that relentless performance of the cultural reality we create. Theatre is a chance to perform on purpose for a change.
With that in mind, I choose to answer the question “Why theatre?” by publishing a digest / manifesto gleaned from an ancient manuscript found in the rare books collection at St. Andrews University. I came across it because of the strange circumstances of pandemic lockdown. During the UK’s coronavirus lockdown I was in Scotland, and in my daily exercise jaunts I noticed a back door was left unlocked at the old library. In the totally abandoned library I found myself frequenting the rare books collection, where I discovered a Latin version of the following text, transcribed by Catholic monks from an even more ancient plundered text, which originated somewhere in the Middle East over 1500 years ago. I took the original text and distilled it, and with the assistance of translation software and an artificially intelligent manifesto generator, made it into what you see here below. I also sketched variations on two illustrations in the manuscript, including the text translations into English. Note that the translation is quite liberal in order to make this make sense to us today: for example thought was understood to occur in the heart at the time the text was written that this is derived from: I have opted to make it the brain since that makes the translation more understandable to today’s theatre-going public.