Hundreds of years in the future, when society looks back (and by society, I clearly mean the Cockroach People, who will have outlived our own stupidity and taken over the earth) I somehow doubt that it will be our “Golden Age” of technology that carries the bulk of their attention. Don’t mistake that comment, I’m by no means a Luddite or technophobe; even as we speak I am sitting in a coffee shop (ticking the cliché box, nicely) with my laptop, two smart phones, a tablet and a nervous disposition surrounding the likelihood of imminent mugging. Frankly for me to rail against technology would be deeply ironic and colossally irritating. I love gadgetry as much as the next child of the 80’s, who now wields in one hand levels of tech that were previously confined to the mystical miasma of the Silver Screen, where we emerged from the cinema starting conversations with the words, “Imagine if that really existed…” (Having said that, I’m still waiting for a Lightsaber to make its way into my Christmas stocking).
No, it’s not for lack of love for modern advances that I make my opening statement, but because I think what will be more interesting and relevant to our inheritors is why we made such leaps and bounds in our techno-social development. There are many theories on this, but I think popular consensus will agree that the real aim of most great technological inventions has been for unimpeded, unfettered, unlimited communication with their fellow man (or woman). This is no great revelation, anyone who’s capable of pulling at the thread of the invention of the Internet can trace its route back through fax and telephones to radio to telegram to… oh you get the picture. Really this all brings us back to the Cockroach People’s question of why? Why bother talking to the other side of the world in a heartbeat? Why are we so unsatisfied living and communicating in small, simple social circles as our ancestors did? Why have we chosen to make the world that much smaller? Here we come to the crux of the matter, and the reason for this interruption to your peaceful day; people have a story, and stories simply must be told.
Stories are the foundation of any and every form of communication, from the ancient who first told his tribe exactly what happens when you walk to the edge of their land, to the guy sitting opposite me who just took a picture of his lunch and posted it to Facebook. It doesn’t matter whether it’s military tactics or medical advances, bookie’s results or Biblical belief, each time we communicate we’re passing a story from person to person. Whether we’re right or not, and seemingly regardless of whether anyone is listening, we all believe we have story worth sharing and we seem to have invented a myriad of methods to make that possible. Each person’s life experience – each person’s story – has worth, and will shape, inform, educate and enlighten the journey of others. This is the way that it’s been for time immemorial; generation to generation we have shared ourselves and shaped our society. There’s a reason we call it history.
Now, the observant among you will notice that this blog comes from my professional name, Parable Arts. This is the arts company I am currently establishing and developing with the sole aim of creating and sharing stories, because I happen agree that our stories hold value and worth (perhaps not the guy photographing his Panini, delicious as it may be) and that the passing on of stories is a valuable and worthwhile exercise. As a classically trained actor stories are my bread and butter; from the lofty works of Shakespeare to the grassroots work of Boal I revel in stories and their ability to change how we think about, and view, the world around us. You may argue that a world that has developed so many forms of technology, and quick-fire methods of communication, has no room for a return to more purist storytelling traditions, and perhaps a brief look at theatre audience-numbers over the last decade would support that opinion, but there will always be a need to dedicate time and focus on the stories that really matter. Stories are art; crafted, cared for and refined over generations, and things like that deserve time and energy dedicated to them, and a platform where they can be given time and enjoyed.
A parable, for those who don’t know, is simply a story with meaning; a fable; an allegory; a legend – something worth sharing. But alongside the big stories; the myths; the legends; the fables and parables, I believe that there are stories all around us that are worth sharing. People have them hidden in their photo albums, their wallets, their wardrobes, that top drawer in the bedroom that we fill with all the things we’ll never need but can’t bear to part with (there must be enough stories in one of those to fill a lifetime). Stories can be found in the most unlikely places and told in unlimited expressions, from a musician’s murmurings to theatrical thundering, from crafted carpentry to poetry and prose; Parable Arts will aim to encompass them all. It doesn’t matter whether it’s comedy or tragedy, family or fairytale; I’m fascinated by what tales you hoard in your hearts. So keep your eyes open for the name Parable Arts, as I work to develop this manifesto into manifestation, and perhaps the story you see me tell might just be one of yours.
Cockroach Person – an artist’s impression.