Since beginning work on Panic Everything’s Fine, I’ve had to abruptly come to terms with two things; one is my own bias and the second is my largely unconsidered relationship the to event of war.
Whenever you’re devising a story that comes from a particular perspective it is always going to be necessary to be aware of what that perspective is. For myself, someone who’s never had any direct contact with the armed forces, no enlisted family or friends, my perspective on war was initially basic and unconsidered. The desire to be involved in the military was seemingly alien to me.
My perception of warfare has been built to this point solely through sources such as film, some education on WWI in high school, and of course the daily news. The privilege I experience because of where I was born means that I’ve no first hand account to speak of. In preparation for Panic Everything’s Fine each ensemble member was tasked with researching the content of war. It quickly became apparent that the linear ideas I’ve been fed of how international conflict plays out were naïve and inaccurate. War is far more complex, opportunistic and multifaceted than I’d previously cared to consider.
Then too, my bias as a liberal-minded-20-something-white-Australian-artist has become glaringly obvious as our ensemble begins to develop content. Not to say that my worldview based on who I am and my background is inherently a bad thing, just that it becomes increasingly important to be aware of your own prejudice and to work to remove yourself from it whilst in rehearsal.
I first came into contact with In The Water Theatre whilst training with SITI Company’s 2016-17 Conservatory. During our time training Gian-Murray Gianino of SITI Company often would say regarding the nature of acting and theatre making, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘We get to be the scientists of human nature, to dissect how people behave and why.’
To be scientific in the analysis of content, it is also important to be objective. To find the humanity in actions, which are foreign to you it’s necessary, I find, to remove yourself from your personal ideas of right and wrong.
The making and telling of stories is, in my opinion, so very essential. As the artist in the making has to work at stretching their capacity for empathy, so does the audience. As a result of the work of the artist, a new perspective is offered alongside an exercise in empathy. My hope for this piece is that we are able to achieve that for ourselves as an ensemble, and for those who come to see our work.