The Spirit and Heart of The Cassandra Project
The spirit and heart of the project will be that of creative collaboration; discipline and rigour appropriately mixed with friendly and cheerful co-existence; tolerance, respect and benevolence toward each person based not on personal preference but on the commonly shared principles, intentions and necessities guiding our work; trust and confidence in each other grounded in the direct experience of dependability and meticulous and timely fulfillment of agreed-upon responsibilities; shared ethical and aesthetic leadership without hierarchy of positions; unwavering commitment to ensuring each person’s physical, social and psychological confidentiality and safety.
About the Project
The membership of the Project included artists in the performing arts, researchers, administrators, political activists and teachers. We composed an intentional non-hierarchical collective, where authority was based on skill and talent rather than artificially assigned roles. We dedicated ourselves to 10 days per year over five years of creative and collaborative research on the theme of Cassandra: the voice endowed with the gift of prophecy and the curse of not being believed. Our research, creative process and day-to-day collaborative living was contained and guided by the practice, principles and ethics of the Discipline of Authentic Movement. During the year each individual member of the project undertook their own personal research. We searched for and identified Cassandras amongst private citizens as well as known public figures. We conducted interviews to gather information, hear the stories and discern the specific universal elements in what we called the "“Cassandra experience"”. All this then served as source material on which we based our creative work. Each year we offered the result of our work-in-progress in the form of performance projects and public workshops.
In the early 90's one of Ms. Koltai's long-time students, Monique Léger, presented her with Cassandra, A Novel and Four Essays by Christa Wolf. The summer of 1994 Ms. Koltai was teaching at the Banff School of Fine Arts and had conversations with the composer Murray Schafer about joining Mr. Schafer's Wolf Project. In addition to the artistic aspirations of the project, Ms. Koltai was impressed and deeply moved by the principles of co-existence and co-operative creative living that were the guiding underpinnings of a creative enterprise. Inspired by the conversations with Mr. Schafer and also Ms. Léger, who happened to be visiting in Banff at the same time, the seeds of a project based on the Myth of Cassandra were planted. It took nearly 10 years and many more conversations, readings and research inquiries before, in 2003, The Cassandra Project was born.
Cassandra was the daughter of Priam and Hecuba, King and Queen of Troy. Ancient mythology tells us that the god Apollo gave her the gift of prophecy. He later placed a curse on her, so that her prophecies would never be believed. Cassandra has become a symbol for those who risk speaking what they see, and knowing what inevitably must come from it (the prophetic voice). The voice of clear vision is the birthright of every human being. Unfortunately, those who dare to speak out and reveal the reality of a given situation are often met with hostility. They are ignored, ostracized, punished and even murdered. They are our Cassandras.
The Cassandra Experience seeks to celebrate and encourage the speaking and hearing of the prophetic voice. The project entails performance, written works and research in the social sciences and humanities. The approach is exploratory and experimental. The goal is to affirm the Cassandra Experience to its rightful place in society (and the human experience). This project has been developed by fifteen, multi-disciplinary, professional artists, academics and others from all walks of life. We invite you to follow our project. Share your thoughts and personal Cassandra experiences. Dare to invest yourself in what you see and know to be true.