The Territory Orphans
(A North American Buddhist Theatreart Company)
So here’s a few words about our name and what it might imply. First of all the smaller print before moving on to the title at large:
It’s a North American enterprise, we’re not from the east and we’re not in the past, we don’t come to town from a monastery or down from the mountain. We’re definitely Buddhist so don’t be surprised if we have an interest in emptiness. Meditation occurs as well, chanting too, it’s all of it part of our practice. But no-one quite knows what the North America Buddhists do, especially us, but that shouldn’t stop us from being whatever we turn out to be so I guess we’ll just carry on and see what we are. We’re artists too, not monks or nuns, and none of us live an ascetic life accept now and then. So we like to play. Having some fun with form’s okay, but as they say: form is only emptiness, so we like to play with that as well and let emptiness play with us. Play like this leads to theatre of course, not the kind you usually see in the everyday world. And the art we make seems to be that way too. When art is active it turns to theatre; when theatre is true it turns into art. So we’ve decided to call it Theatreart whenever we manage to pull it off. And we’re definitely a Company no matter how many we have in the room because the practice we have is a group sort of thing and we certainly need each other to bring it all out and about in the world.
Territory is a term we’ve employed for twenty odd years and the whole thing’s so shaggy and hard to tell it’d probably be better strategically if we didn’t even mention it at all; but hey, what the hell - here you are here (and I’m here with you too) so we might just as well take a stab at the blab. So. Look. Here’s the thing: practically speaking we all of us see the world all around in an everyday way that hardly sways on a windy day when the wind blows free. We’ve been told how to see the world where we are since the day we were born, by our parents, our teachers, by leaders and preachers and all of society. And sooner or later, what do you know, we all begin to do it too - we tell ourselves continually what we think we should see, so we do. And what we tell ourselves to see is a world entirely of form: this piece is this, that piece is that, this tree, that rock, this building, that car, that rocket, that rocker, that base guitar, this girl, that guy, that you, this me, perceiving it all so separately we slice up the pie and we wrap up each piece. But actually, what we really need is to truly see whatever there is wherever we are, not as it’s been described to us (even by ourselves) but just as it is on its own. And. If we do. We eventually notice, essentially, form does not arise from form, it combines with it, sure, and arranges itself, wantonly even (as only a wonton can do). But where does form originate from and where does it go when it finally subsides? The source of things lies somewhere else - it’s nowhere here in the world of form.
Now some will say there’s an empty side, but those Buddhist guys have been yakking for years and it’s still pretty hard for most of us here to follow them there wherever that isn’t. So maybe you don’t get all the way there to emptiness, but at least you can bring a little bit in to mingle within the form that you cling to. And that’s pretty much what the Territory is, a way to be that is inbetween the world of form and the empty side. Take the emptiness, tug it a bit until it peeks through to the world of form. Get a bit of the form to subside and let a whiff of emptiness arise. What you get then is the Territory: a place where form and emptiness coexist perceptually. And a whole new landscape is suddenly there for you and me and anyone else who chooses to look that way. And because it is an actual landscape you can actually go there and play with the mix of form and emptiness.
We call ourselves Orphans because each of us is directly connected to the single whole of whatever is and/or isn’t. Now it’s generally thought that families ought to connect us this way, and religious groups and governments too by extension. But it certainly is inescapably true that every single part of the whole is directly connected in an intimate way to the very source of whatever the whole is holistically. Every flower, every tree, every you and every me, I mean doesn’t a dog have Buddha-nature, it’s a mu point (woof!). So. You see. We each have to pursue our own direct connection ourselves. But. Unfortunately. Families and other such institutions go out of their way to make us believe that the only way to connect ourselves up is through them. Why? Well. Governments like to collect their taxes; families always take their toll. But. Even so. No matter whatever you end up paying, they never can help you get any closer to what you already have. And. That means. We might just as well all realize we’re orphans in this regard. No-one else can connect us up with the universe. Not even mommy. Or daddy. Or God. Nothing can ever stand inbetween if there’s only one thing.