The Road to Mindful Theatre.

Slow movements are about, well, slowing down.  Mindfully approaching life and, in our case, the creation of art, audience, and community.  For me, the road to mindful living began with my child.  The first time she sat in grass: the way she curled her fingers around the blades of green life and grinned.

The sun shone like a fairytale, and the very air seemed to breath laughter.

It was only a minute, but in my memory it lasts for hours.

Tiny knuckles.

Blades flexing and crossing.

Sun dappling across her knees.

It took a child to make me slow down and choose a mindful life: notice the flavors of my meals, the bumps under my feet, the tightening around the eyes as my friend launches herself into a daunting scene, the inhale through the nose of a playwright before she pitches her story.  As it turns out, I like living slowly and mindfully: seeing people and life as valuable, essential, beautiful and whole beings.

Those of us wrapped up in theatre (or, really, any non-profit sector) can forget the value of approaching each other mindfully.  We are so wrapped up in interpreting and improving the world that we lose sight of the very community in which we create.  Tech week happens at top speed with people losing sleep and eating too much pizza.  Actors miss family holidays for auditions.  Artistic Directors skip their breaks in favor of mini-meetings.  Administrators eat lunch staring at a computer screen.  Our love becomes our work, our work becomes our life, and suddenly we are losing sight of life.

Theatre as an art is inherently slower than our lives today.  One scene is far longer than what we watch through media outlets.  We arrive 20 minutes early, lounge in our seats, and wait for the lights to go down.  We don’t leave without, literally, applauding triumphs.  What might the creation of theatre feel like if we all slow down like our audiences?

We get to converse and create for many times longer than we do now.

We get to take an intermission.  With no goal other than to stretch our legs and eat.

We all, literally, applaud each other for our triumphs.  Every day.  Take the time to see the triumphs.

Feel the time…Feel our breath…Oh, wait, isn’t that an acting exercise?

I think I rather like the sound of it.

Theatre as Mindful Living.  Life as Mindful Theatre.

SerahRose Roth is a director, actress, educator, and mom to a precocious preschooler.  She is the Producing Artistic Director of GAN-e-meed Theatre Project and a student at Boston University’s Institute for Non-Profit Management and Leadership.

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  1. #1 by Robyn Linden on December 27, 2010 - 1:07 pm

    I love this concept and would be so interested in reading future blog posts about practical ways to introduce mindfulness into the arts. I find that this works in the reverse, too — I forget to be mindful but should learn to apply some of my theatre rituals to my offstage life. I’m often shocked that it takes an actor warm up (which I only do in tech or before a show) to remind me to ground my breath and voice, and wish I would remember that practice throughout my day to day. You’re right on in pointing out that the experience of an audience member is much slower, more thoughtful and receptive to the work going on in the room than we may tend to be as we go about our busy lives, too. Looking forward to exploring mindfulness in the new year!

  1. Mindful Theatre…coming soon to a conference near you | SerahRose Roth

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