Self & Thing (I/Thou, I/It) addresses performing with objects as stand-in for self or other and explores the interface between inner experience and outer expression.
Elements of somatic, contemplative and vocal practices are included to support speaking, dreaming, composing and performing with Things. Issues of identity, representation, transformation, transgression, manipulation, theatrical conventions and 'the real’ are addressed.
Small and disparately scaled figures and objects are used to investigate the interface between contemplative, somatic and healing practices, and to interrogate and comment on the conventions, politics and psychology of performance, theatre and acting - both contemporary and traditional.
Objects including fake food, male and female figures, words, inanimate animals, objects from or representing the natural world, and other little things are utilized to lubricate access to the creative unconscious.
Related to Self & Thing is the field of Sandtray Therapy, a form developed by Dora Kalff in the mid-twentieth century, with exquisite parallels to aspects of Object Theatre. She writes: “The client (read: ‘artist’) is given the possibility, by means of figures and the arrangement of the sand in the area bounded by the sandbox (read: ‘performance area’, ‘horizontal proscenium’, or ‘stage’), to set up a world corresponding to his or her inner state. In this manner, through free, creative play, unconscious processes are made visible in a three-dimensional form and a pictorial world comparable to the dream experience. Through a series of images that take shape in this way, the process of individuation described by C. G. Jung is stimulated and brought to fruition. … Another important polarity in sandplay is that between body and soul. The image is shaped in the sand physically, so that we can say that internal contents find a bodily form” (From Inner Experience to Outer Expression).
As images are shaped in the element of air as well as earth, Self & Thing includes written or printed letters, words and text (objects in and of themselves) as precursor to voice and sound practices leading to speaking for objects.
In The Nature of Things: The Secret Life of Inanimate Objects, the biologist Lyall Watson discusses both the innate and absorbed energies of objects: “...’Things’, even those that are totally inorganic and undeniably inanimate, sometimes behave as though they were alive, on occasion even sentient.” He also writes, “Shamans tell us that the masks they wear are alive but do not speak by themselves. They require human speakers and dancers if they are to move ... But ... also express themselves autonomously through their physical forms”.