Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From The Circle

Out of my family circle has grown more storytelling art! My son, Jack Novak, is Literary Manager for a new theatre in Chicago: Filament Theatre. He has just directed and co-written a new play titled From the Circle: ReMembering the Earth Through Folktales. His director's notes appear below. As you will see, his words are in the spirit of many of my earlier postings.

"It’s a common perception that folktales and myths were created by ancient civilizations to explain the world around them, and that modern science has replaced the need for such stories.  This performance challenges that perception. Folktales are not intended to provide technical understanding of the world.  Rather, folktales help us construct an emotional understanding of it, which allows us to relate to it.  We can’t relate to things just by knowing the science behind them.  When we watch the sunrise, that’s an experience we can’t share with someone by explaining the science of it.  The science doesn’t touch on how it makes us feel – how the sun takes on a new significance, or even a personality.  A folktale or myth captures that significance.

The people who originated most of the stories told this evening would have lived much closer to the natural world.  Here in the modern urban environment, however, the world around us is not the natural world but one of pavement and insulation.  This is a tricky obstacle for proponents of sustainability, who are trying to promote an awareness of nature.  At such a distance from the biological flow of energy we can easily forget our place in it.  We forget that everything we consume comes first from natural cycles, and that everything we put out (for better or worse) must return to those cycles.

Storytelling has a new importance.  In a folktale a man can talk to a tree, and by listening to that story we can see more clearly an aspect of our subtle relationship to trees. Once our relationship to nature is contextualized in a folktale, we gain a more personal, emotional understanding of the world.  With that understanding comes a greater sense of responsibility and, hopefully, a renewed joy in the Earth.  If, sitting in a dark room with no windows, we can remember the experience of watching a sunrise, just by listening to a story, then I think the environment has a chance. "
 – Jack Novak, Filament Theatre, 10/2011

And while we're on the subject....