For over one hundred years scientists have known our materialistic reductionist view did not jive with quantum experiments. Over these past hundred years through thousands of experiments physics continued to demonstrate that the driver of our world is consciousness. Yet the old, tried-and-true paradigm that emerged following Newton’s finding’s of the materialistic philosophy, which was born out of the religious dogma of divine right, still exists to this day as scientists turn a blind eye away from the results of these experiments which contradict their view of the world in this conventional paradigm. This is normal in science.
Yet more and more people are defying the conventional institutions, be they science, health, education, finances, or other established status quo conventions, for a renewed independent and individual view of the world that is carved out of the huge industry called “alternative”. The internet is information-on-steroids and the “information highway” is a runaway rail train at full tilt toward an exponential explosion of evidence: evidence for both positions, both poles- the materialists and the non-materialists. The weight of this measure leans toward the non-materialists because their views are newly found; the materialists are swimming in the waters of old thinking from Newtonian principles that were revolutionary in the day but are now simply out-dated.
Today, we are on the cusp of a new paradigm, as is evident in the collapsing of the institutions of Western society. Governments are coming apart in dysfunction. Medicine and healing are failing miserably even as medical technology soars. Education has become conformist and produces zombies of the status quo with few truly creative artists and thinkers emerging. Wars dominate geography throughout the world and the divide between Western capitalistic society and traditional Islamic society is rapidly driving radical acts of violence and killing from both sides. The old world order is being challenged from East and West, Right and Left, Conservative and Liberal, and who comes out the winner remains to be seen. I posit that Theater can be a fount of well-being which society can use to make rational choices toward the future as we deal and cope with these dysfunctions.
Freudian psychology of the pathological being gave us the neurotic. The neurotic has been viewed not only as ill in the head but also creative. Current neuroscience is uncovering the physiological links between neurosis and neural firings of creativity. Cognitive science is also discovering the truth that reality is a belief system, that from the brain’s point of view there is no difference between what we call fiction and nonfiction. Our separation of reality and fantasy is not known in the brain. The brain takes all inputs, all stimulates as “real” and fires accordingly. From this knowledge one can deduce rationally that humans can create their own reality if they can consciously direct their belief system.
Yet when human belief systems are outwardly directed, which is a mandatory foundation of development because of the multiyear requirement before newborns build their neocortex of conscious executive reasoning, it is easy to manipulate the minds of others through conditioning practices like daily schooling of standardization. Changes of paradigms are slow and are resisted to the end by the status quo. Schools are the layers of the next generation of the status quo. In biology for example, genetic determinism is still taught while the new scientific discoveries of epigenetics, which completely overturns genetic determinism and shows that our daily lifestyle affects our genetic expression, is mostly omitted and when it is taught as a specialization for the few or as an insignificant extra piece of traditional biology. The actual revolutionary knowledge of epigenetics escapes the masses. People still believe genes determine their fate and they make major life decisions based on this old, wrong thought paradigm. Epigenetics offers us a chance to build our world in conscious intention and action. In short, epigenetics decimates the well-worn robe of victimization and opens new paths to well-being.
Theater is a powerful source of culture in the Western world. Since ancient Greece, as the tragedians drove theater from its origins of collective consciousness of the chorus to the individualist consciousness of the actor, the theater has been a direct path used by the theater makers to push society in a direction the creatives desired. Medieval religious uses of theater, music, and dance spread the word of the theologian. Shakespeare used drama and comedy to illuminate the world’s history, the human condition and the ways of kings and peasants alike. Modern theater asked audiences to push their minds open with new understandings of the psychological relationship of actor and audience. Post modern theater pushed even farther to break open the colonialist foundations of theater. Essentially, the theater is an expression of its creatives that is used to sway the audience’s perception of reality. Every playwright, choreographer, and composer wants their work to be understood for the intent it was built upon. Although often people go to the theater to escape, more often than not people enter the theater to be challenged, provoked, moved and questioned: they are looking for something new.
In the midst of the crumbling human empire, theater and epigenetics, quantum principles, cognitive science and energy psychology, can bring a revolutionary paradigm shift into focus and help individuals, on both sides of the footlights, acclimate to the new knowledge and hence, new reality.
The well-being of the average human being today is not at a very high level. The modern physical, mental and spiritual stresses bombard people daily as they tend to economic, materialistic needs created in a culture of Newtonian material reductionism. The overall health of the population is poor, the mental states are stressed out with anxious pathological syndromes and depression, while spiritually the population is mired in an atheistic nihilism or often a soulless religion whose contradictions and hypocrisies make it hard to be a devout anything. It is self-evident from an objective view of the world that the traditions which form the bedrock of society are coming apart, with few solutions, as people defend and build walls, commit violent acts on others and themselves, and franticly try to live paycheck to paycheck in the bitter divide of haves and have-nots. Well-being in the first quarter of the twenty-first century is sorely lacking.
Yet there is hope. And theater artists can be a force toward solutions that integrate evolving knowledge which can liberate and empower individuals. This solution-based evolving awareness of new knowledge can be thorough and comprehensive by following through with these aspects of theater:
1. Theater artists can be trained to create in this new non-materialistic consciousness. Performers can learn the non-materialistic ways to connect to information, emotion, and expression and their techniques can be ones that facilitate well-being.
2. Playwrights can research and experiment with this new consciousness and write from this new paradigm, ushering in a new chapter of non-materialistic plays that open minds and hearts to a new way to experience and perceive our human condition that is hopeful and productively evolving collective consciousness.
3. Directors and choreographers can create rehearsals and performances that embody the new paradigm and bring well-being to the whole creative team and hence, the audience by extension.
4. Producers can be selective and shift the content of what gets produced to these new, non-materialistic productions that embody the new co-creative paradigm.
What is the new paradigm? What does it feel like? Where does it arrive from? Why aren’t people aware of it?
The new paradigm is a scientific-based thinking that is based on evidence, as good science requires. It begins with quantum physics theory (evidence) of non-materialism: wave/particular duality, entanglement, tunneling, holography, and the information-based, non-physical foundation of what we call materialism. From this evidence, which turns our Newtonian-driven materialistic view of our existence upside-down, we can see the extension into the other sciences. For if our particles are made of non-material, then biology, chemistry, and all other hard sciences are implicated because of their “physical” existence.
Biology, and the human body and life itself, are deeply affected by this new paradigm shift. And biology brings its own new evidence to the table. Epigenetic biology is the study of how genes get expressed. The old genetic determinism that tells us we are controlled by our
genes is outdated and wrong. This “central dogma” as it has been called and aptly termed in scientific circles, has been overturned by a fuller understanding of the fact that genes are potentials, just like particles, and the key to their expressions are made from the interaction of the cell and it’s environment, just as the particle expression is the result of perception.
Epigenetic biology theory (evidence) demonstrates that genes get expressed (turned on) by our thoughts and the chemicals they fire in our body, by our feelings and the chemicals they fire, and by our intentions and actions. Simply put, a gene in a toxic environment will not remain healthy. While a gene in a fertile, nutrient-rich environment will thrive. Our inner biological environment is built by our perceptions, beliefs, and actions. If we believe the world is dangerous we will fire thoughts of stress, defense, and be on guard. These thoughts will create a chemical environment of danger and our genes will respond in kind. This creates a biology of ill health. For well-being to flood our body biology we need to fire positive thoughts of compassion, caring and love.
In the competitive dog-eat-dog world of commercial theatre, stress remains high and fears are instigated. This creates a poor quality environment to create from. If the production team works in co-operation, co-creative ways and trusting one another, well-being will abound and the energy of the production will be electric. Audiences know this when they feel it. The original cast of Rent, who unified deeply upon the wholly unexpected, surprising event of the death of their composer Jonathan Larson on opening night, began that run of performances with a special heightened compassion and open-hearted collective energy that was empirically validated while watching them perform. If we cultivate this unified cooperation in compassion we can achieve this well-being at will through our intent.
The Brazilian theater director Augusto Boal called for a Theatre of the Oppressed in his manifesto of the same name. Boal insisted that theatre is political by nature, as man is a political being, and theater is a weapon used by “the ruling classes . . . as a tool for domination.” These bold statements ask, and demand, that theater practitioners understand the true condition of theater beyond the oral tradition of storytelling, beyond the mythological narratives of classics, beyond the universal characteristics of tragedy and comedy, to a perspective which questions motives. Why do we create theater? How is theater used in society? What are the implications of a theater underwritten by moneyed people (or corporations today) of powerful influence? Boal argued that the ancient grass roots dithyramb song and dance of the people was dislodged and hijacked by the aristocracy of ancient Greece; hence Aristotelian “cohesive tragedy” which then later evolved into a Machiavellian poetics of subjective individuals- the “new aristocrats”. Brecht objectified character again, but from Boal’s point of view Brecht left the classes in place. Boal wanted the divisions, the “barriers of the ruling classes” decimated and destroyed.
One need not look too hard for examples that validate Boal’s insights. Theater in the United States is easily seen as a weapon of the established status quo. If we ‘follow the money’ as is always a best practice in our capitalistic democracy (much like ancient imperialistic Greece), we find mega-multinational, globalist corporations such as Disney high atop the producers ring. We find wealthy individuals who gamble on theater like it’s a dramatic stock market of pretend games. We find philanthropic foundations whose agendas are hidden beneath the generous facade of “donations”. And we find government money directed by law makers and government employees as to who gets what and when. At the local level we find the small “non-profit” theater toasting its donors with champagne as the donors soak in their political might and powerful influence- they know they can pull strings when needed, and they are smart enough not to pull too often lest the community sees the real relationship of money to the poor creatives. The idea of a “non-profit” theater (or any other kind of non-profit institution for that matter) is an absurdity. What business can survive without a profit? All theaters must turn a profit to survive, be it from box office income or donations, it matters not but it does allow for a black number to end the tally, not a red one.
All of this demonstrates two things. One, the money people dominate and control the theater. Two, the fact that the people do not change this, just like the people do not perceive the inherent contradiction of a non-profit theater, demonstrates the fact that the theater has left the people behind. In a current example of the politically correct, money dominated theater we can look at Broadway’s newest “revolutionary” phenom, Hamilton. With all the trappings of a theater for the people, complete with a racially mixed, diverse cast which reflects “America today”, Hamilton rumbles on as a historic freight train of a contemporary retelling of history. The awards are in, the critics cheered, and the people clamor for the hottest ticket in town. Meanwhile certain inconvenient truths escape the populous- the same populous which is ironically being celebrated in the show. The hip-hop song-and-dance, performers spittin’ rhymes of rap, has captured the imaginations of the audiences so that they don’t even begin to ask the first question from the first lyrics- is Alexander Hamilton really an immigrant? Any thoughtful answer would conclude that a white European descendent of Scottish and French blood is not an immigrant even if he came from the West Indies. The portrayal of Hamilton as a minority immigrant from the poor colonies is a deception. The obvious second question which begs to be asked from thoughtfulness is: if every one of the people who populated American land back in 1776 came from elsewhere, wouldn’t they all be considered immigrants? Wasn’t every person who set foot on this land stepping into already existing cultures, all coming from a distant land, which forced them to migrate to get here? The fact that the historical narrative assumes that the native American cultures that existed here for hundreds and thousands of years isn’t worthy of value- otherwise instead of these “founding” fathers and mothers we’d have imperialistic conquerors who committed genocide- is a dead giveaway that we are in a white man’s status-quo, establishment history. This in itself would be enough to show the political side of our current cohesive theater of money. Add to this the fact that every single one of the “founding” (what did they “found” besides what was already established) fathers being celebrated, glorified and romanticized in the show, owned slaves. That omission is not addressed in the show. We can be convinced that Hamilton is hiding history for the political sake of being correct and that the populous is neither inquisitive nor skeptical enough; they are the proverbial sheep.
Theater today is enforcing the status-quo, pushing capitalistic unsustainability, and operating with a competitive, cut-throat, bottom-line value system that is more part of the problem than a solution. The outdated paradigm of materialist reductionism is thriving in theatre and it is time to change. As the need for social, political, economic, and spiritual change has become clear in today’s broken society, it is imperative and advantageous for theatre to be a leader and not a sheepish follower. Theatre, which also needs change to break away from the commercial chains that hamper it, can revitalize itself and command a listening ear in the shift to the new paradigm. Theatre artists already explore and experiment in the new paradigm of non-physical reality. Many theatre practitioners work with conscious intention to co-create their lives in a fashion that suits them; they have taken charge of their potential, no longer bouncing from reactivity to reactivity in their daily lives. They live with purpose and compassion while aligning their energies and grounding their bodies. Their spirits are open, loving and inclusive. They spread frequencies of loving care, not individualistic greed. They check their egos and work to integrate their whole being in their creative output; they live from the heart not from the ego driven head.
With performing artists already leading the way in important and significant ways, only a movement is needed, a momentum, a unity, a coming together of forces, to marshal in a shift and change in the practices of theatre moving forward. Theatre practitioners need only to introspect, examine their practices, be aware of their thinking, and allow conscious intention to manifest through purposeful living and practicing of their craft. I encourage all of us to keep questioning and discovering the new ideas of science that empower us.