The Cassandra Project has reached its five-year mark 2003-2007.
This was the time line fifteen of us agreed to in our original commitment to devote 10 days each summer to the Project. We agreed to residential collective living and working during these periods. The project began in Victoria BC in 2003, moved to Sutton QC for two summers 2004 and 2005 , then moved back to Victoria for 2006 and completed its last year in Vancouver in 2007.
The project was entirely subsidized by the members and represents over $100,000 of collective financial investment. Our work has been shared publicly in eight different contexts and venues in the past three years. We have presented our work to invited audiences ranging in size from 3 to over 75 people in such varied places as Centre Bionimiste in Sutton QC, The First Unitarian Church in Victoria, Camosun College, in Victoria, First Peoples’ Friendship centre in Victoria, Artists of Consciousness Festival in Victoria, Theatre and Myth festival in Malérargues, France, performing Arts Lodge in Vancouver and in the Labyrinth space of St Paul’'s Church in Vancouver. Thee reach of our collective work is, however, far greater than these locations. Through our research workshops and presentations, we have touched, and have been touched by many lives from many different groups, ages and populations.
The discipline of Authentic Movement, our source vehicle of both exploration and creation proved to be resilient and malleable methodology. Known theatre and performance conventions provided us with a common language which we re-visited and challenged willingly. Meetings, correspondences and conversations with individuals and with various groups of people gave us new perspectives on our work and our lives.
The journey, a total of 50 days over five years plus some thirty days in various “pods”, has been rewarding. Collective creation continued during the year through practice, reflection and correspondence amongst the members. The journey not unlike that of a travelling circus!
The Cassandra Project from its inceptions was intended as a social, human research experiment as well as an experiment in collective creation. Bringing the principles and guidelines of the work to also guide and form our living together proved to be the backbone of the project. The concept was a challenging synthesis of utopian and realistic goals. The logistics and the human interactions created considerable complexity. How we gradually found a natural fluidity was exactly what the experiment was about and what we now feel we can articulate and share with others.
The principles and guidelines of the creative work also had to find their way in the “kitchen”. A different laboratory to test ideas and approaches. Some days the studio work found a fluidity and other days it was found in the kitchen.
The main disciplines we turned to for guidance: Authentic Movement, the Seven Directions practice of Kaylynn Two Trees, group Dialogue as conceptualized and taught by David Bohm. We also gained understanding about the disciplined distinction between personal and professional material (concerns, history, emotional triggers, etc.) individually and collectively. All of these learning’s contributed to a rich and transforming experience for us all. The Cassandra project experience continues to provide our personal and professional lives with transferable skills and understandings.
We have been transformed by this adventure: collective celebration of individual contribution.
The creative strength of the collective was the pooling of each individual’s capacities. We considered all tasks and skills of equal value and importance. Cooking the meals, laundry, scouting for new locations, creating choreography, composing a song, writing a dramatic scene were of equal importance. There was room for the quiet and robust ones: for the oxen and the butterflies.
Audiences remarked on the quality of connection between us, a palpable trust. The final 1.5 hour piece left audiences with a strong feelings and vivid imagery. Some spoke of the ritual quality, the humour despite the heaviness of the subject matter, the weaving of the mythical story of Cassandra and the contemporary Cassandra stories, newspaper reports, images, gestures and songs.
The work could now take on new shapes, a solid foundation of explored materials has been laid down. The original objective has been met, the creation presented. Footage is ready for a documentary, the script holds together, all the research has been archived, logged and referenced. On occasion, members of the Cassandra project collective are invited to present at conferences such as the American Dance Therapy Association Conference which will be held in Minneapolis, October 19-23, 2011.
The Cassandra project may have been the impetus for creative exploration and it may well have become a small step for a new imagination in the creation of art and human development.
Many guests came to the project: David Latham (Theatre Director), Suzie LeBlanc (Soprano), Joy Coghill (Director, Actor), Mary Wynn Ashford (Physician and peace activist), Paul Buckley (Physicist),PK Page (Poet). Generous people form all walks of life agreed to speak to us and be interviewed, telling us their Cassandra story. Although the Cassandra Project supported no specific cause, it provided a performance event for audiences to experience our version of what it might feel like to speak and not be believed. In turn audience members could speak and share their won story.
We believe and hope that, in some humble but significant way, the Cassandra Project was, in the words of William Wordsworth: “The spontaneous eruption of emotion recaptured in tranquility”.