This site is written and maintained by yours truly, Matt Cawson, and will serve as my own personal record of my quest for theatrical and artistic fulfilment. It will detail the voyage of discovery I hope to embark upon in the creation of a new theatre company, which will (probably) be called Exile Theatre Company.
Exile, at present, is in exile from actual reality. It is a mere notion, a phantasm of a theatre company who dreams of the day it might blossom into so much as a seedling. It is a twinkle in the eye of its parents, myself and co-founder Daniel J. Tremlett. Its conception was less ‘immaculate’ than electronic, i.e. via text and email (oh the wonders of that modern technology). We are both dramatists from Royal Holloway, University of that London. Daniel is a budding playwright, actor and performer who is currently studying Drama & Theatre, and seeking to explore his creativity beyond the opportunities afforded by traditional university teachings and commercially available channels, which can at times be uninspiring (in the same way sitting on a very long hot spike can be described as “interesting”). I have taught theatre for 8 years, and in those years it has learned nothing. I have also just completed my Ph.D, which has apparently done for my employment prospects what Tony Blair has done for socialism and world peace. I now want to expand my horizons beyond my new-found unemployability, put the skills and experience I have acquired over the years to good use, and venture into new creative and experimental terrains.
We are hoping to create an experimental theatre company that seeks to challenge its performers and audiences alike, to push the limits of the theatrical experience in its quest for embodied meaning (beyond the body, there is nothing). It will be based initially on the themes of intensity and discovery, humanity and selfhood, annihilation and self-sacrifice, and the quest for meaning within a civilization that denies the possibility of all of these beyond the profit motive. My initial inspiration comes from Jerzy Grotowski, though we are not dogmatically bound by any of this. This is merely a starting point.
The content of this site will document our search for a theatre of truth and purity, and the processes involved in getting things started. These blogs will initially document the struggles, thoughts, trials, tribulations and (no doubt) creative and/or ideological disagreements that will inevitably form part of the process of getting things up and moving. Should we progress this far, it will document our attempts to recruit suitable actors, of finding suitable rehearsal spaces, of overcoming the not-insignificant geographical barrier of about 200 miles that lies between Daniel and myself, of playing around with form and content, of finding ways of working that suits our aims and our actors.
Other articles on this site will relate to issues that are of concern to me in the wider (but still relevant) sense: cultural theory, art and theatre, politics, etc. My hope is that something worthwhile and tangible will emerge from the smoke of confused choices, false discourses and sophistic dichotomies that constitute the illusory world before us, something from which we can form a sound aesthetic, political, ethical, and creative reality. I seek a form of creative phronesis .
The starting point will be the identification of our key principles.
DISCLAIMER: It must be stressed that my account is necessarily from a personal point of view: this is not an official account of the company, merely of my own involvement with it. The company is not mine. I am a collaborator with Daniel, who has at least as much creative input and ownership as I do. His views may differ from mine, and when they do, what I write here is is only a perspective, not a definitive or authoritative account, or anything approaching a final say. Hopefully soon we will have our own site up and running, which will provide a true and definitive account of the company of which I am just a part.
In addition to this, I am trying to set up a new UK Theatre Laboratory (name tbc) aimed at providing a cheap, residential retreat for new theatre companies wishing to explore new and innovative work. Donations, and more information, are at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/1XpHe?
1. Phronesis, in this sense, is a form of wisdom that is neither scientific nor entirely practical. It relates to purpose and understanding, and is more concerned with the quest than the destination. It is concerned with discovery. In Virtues and Vices, Aristotle defines phronēsis (Φρονησις) as:
“wisdom to take counsel, to judge the goods and evils and all the things in life that are desirable and to be avoided, to use all the available goods finely, to behave rightly in society, to observe due occasions, to employ both speech and action with sagacity, to have expert knowledge of all things that are useful.” (1250a)
Aristotle in 23 Volumes. Vol. 20. Trans. H. Rackham. London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1952.