Day 13: On creating and destroying

by Tobi Mattingly | Aug 3, 2016

I’m torn today.

On the one hand I have oh so much to say on the article we’re sharing as today’s Language of the Stage Lab countdown (it’s day 13 already!) On the other hand, I don’t want to take away any of the time you might devote to reading the linked article, because it’s a tad lengthy but every word is a treat.

The article in question is an interview posted on Culturebot earlier this spring titled Zen and the Art of Stage Directing or Conversations About Expectations or Just Making Up Your Damn Mind Already.

It’s a conversation between New York based choregrapher Alexandra Beller and director Ivan Talijančić about… well, about all the things in that title and then some. It was originally posted as a lead up to the duo’s Mindflock workshop, an intensive they created with the subtitle of Directing for Choreographers and Choreography for Directors.

(FYI, if the workshop sounds intriguing to you and you want to know more, Beller and Talijančić are running it again in NYC in September and there are still a couple slots open as of this writing. And if you’re in Chicago and sad that this workshop is not… I’ll just say that this would be a very opportune time to join the DirectorsLabChicago mailing list to stay informed of *ahem*  upcoming local opportunities we keep tabs on.)

I attended the inaugural Mindflock in May, and the Culturebot piece is an excellent gateway drug to the ideas the workshop explored. Beller and Talijančić seem to share two halves of the same super-brain in the way they seamlessly finish one another’s sentences and riff off each others’ ideas, and this article has become one of my go-to reads when I’m feeling stuck in my creative process. They explore the idea of starting with meaning and allowing that to dictate creation versus starting with creation which then dictates meaning, and connecting instinct of movement with instinct of speech. They encourage you to invite things into your landscape that wouldn’t necessarily come out of your head solely for the option of discovering possibilities. (You’ll also see Beller at one point discussing the idea of striving for universal meaning in language that was the focus of yesterday’s post.)

One of my favorite themes of both the article and the workshop was the idea of creation being birthed from destruction. In the Hindu mythology of the trimutri, God is represented by three entities: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the sustainer, and Shiva the destroyer. The role of Shiva, that force of deconstruction or transformation, is critical to creative work. Nothing can be created without first destroying something else.

Don’t take my word for it. Head over to Culturebot for this great interview (and just go ahead an bookmark it now, because you’re going to read this one again and again).


Tobi Mattingly is a Chicago-based director, actor, music director, and teaching artist. She is the founder of Artistic Conspiracy, an arts organization dedicated to creating and enabling world-changing theatre. Through this organization, she helps professional theatremakers take control of their theatre careers through learning and balancing artistic craft, bodymind practices, and business/marketing management.