WhatsOnStage Logo

Chris Grady: Returning from Australia uplifted

WhatsOnStage logo
I've just had the pleasure of spending three weeks with family in Sydney and Byron Bay. I have to admit to not seeing a single moment of legit theatre, but I was surrounded by the extraordinary theatre of that amazing country, and the very special experience of being there at the end of the Mayan calendar for the Uplift Festival in Byron. Those who know me will be well aware that I have been intrigued since schooldays by the mystery of the unknown – I even used to put it on my cv to give “reading and theatre” a bit more bite, when I had little track record of career and life.

I witnessed the most amazing experiential theatre and it has left me with a sense of a “big idea” which I am mulling over, since I have one more week working from home before the freelance contracts kick in for a new season. I almost have a plan, and it feels an exciting complement to my current work programme, and a perfect merging of many strands of my life – but that’s for another blog in a few blogs' time.

For the meantime I just want to share impressions which hit me so powerfully over this time, and in that place. I was lucky enough to be one of 300-400 who saw the dawn rise on 22 December 2012 over the coast at Byron Bay beach in company with Aboriginal leaders, two members of the International Council of 13 indigenous grandmothers (www.grandmotherscouncil.org) two young activists who form the Earth Guardians (www.earthguardians.org) so central to the discussion of the future care of our planet, a group of Tibetan monks who spend time in the Crystal Castle/Byron community, a descendent of the Mayan people there for Uplift, and many experts and visitors from all across the globe. 

The world is changing – maybe for the better – as the powerful groups of indigenous and energised people join their passion to challenge the rape of our planet in the name of short-term profit. I am fascinated to see how we as theatremakers can best contribute to the phenomenal work being undertaken by the heartfelt agitation of so many tribes across the planet. And to explore how we as theatremakers can bear witness to so much good sense that has been lost as local peoples have been destroyed by invading nations across the planet (and still are.)

I may have bemused or turned-off the majority of any readers of my blog by now. What has a load of new-age and old-age guys standing on a beach praising the rising of the sun, and the power of the oceans, and the sacredness of all life got to do with theatre and whatsonstage in the West End? Well often very little, but maybe, just maybe, the passion of the minority who find our human tradition and ritual extra-ordinary and exciting to embrace and re-connect with, will begin to reach further into theatremaking, and we who are the masters of marketing and gathering an audience to witness collective events, will bring some of this passion to influence even more of the planet than we currently reach.

Later the same morning, four of the family went to a ceremony by the Tibetan monks to help us focus on our hopes and fears for the future. Myself,  three theatremakers from variously Suffolk, Sydney and Boulder California and our five year old niece - who is a richer fabricator of dreams and imagination than all of us put together - witnessed an age old ceremony from an age old monk in age old Nepalese, and it was joyful to be there.

So much theatre in one day - and we most definitely bemused much of the rest of the family on our return to basecamp. We continued to have a wonderful exploration of tiny corners of the extraordinary land of Australia. Now it’s back to the grey day of Suffolk, a pile of emails, a new idea brewing, and a determination to keep connecting with so much wisdom that I was witness to in Australia this Christmas.

I promise the next blog will be in keeping with the wider writing on Whatsonstage.com

Happy New Year.

Tagged in this Story