Theatre from the cracks in the psyche of culture










SCREAM No. 64 June 2013

ArkWork makes an assumption that art and education are more than training for a nihilist future . . .

A small group of us are attempting to use the concept of the ARK as an installation that will promote questioning of values and stimulate expansive thinking that is oppositional to reductive and intellectually controlled expression. It is to be called INSTALLATION ARK and will focus both Visual and Performing Arts, Philosophy and Digital Media students and teachers on to the creation of a major work that aims to be meaningful for participants, audiences and the wider community.

Sometimes it is necessary to coin a phrase to distill an idea and to focus on a point that needs developing. And so it is with ArkWork. What is ArkWork? It is an essentially creative process of artificially creating a crises as a stimulation for identifying questions and for providing ways to physically communicate group responses and generate awareness.

While there is nothing new or innovative in any of the concepts incorporated into ArkWork, it assumes the necessity of a crises in order to generate creative thinking and to motivate the necessity of generating physical, emotional and intellectual applications to SEEING. Popular TV reality programs all use this principle: eg. Survive, Master Chef et al. Essentially, place people in a confined space with a problem and a deadline and something will emerge that is greater than the sum total of each part. Theatre, with its deadlines, provides just such an artificial creation of crises.

ArkWork is still evolving; but unless our schools and our communities develop a culture of creativity and learning, the result for our future is a nihilistic one or worse, a Fascist and totalitarian society where coercion and Draconian rules are made to protect the interests of those who benefit from the products of corporate power . . .  and more significantly, people slip into an ennui where apathy and distraction reduce capacity for development of personal and community growth.


An institution such as a school is like a closed and contained system or ark travelling towards yearly destinations or check points where a rite of passage is enacted and groups pass through. The imagination associated with the concept of "ARK" has penetrated artistic and philosophical traditions. From the idea of Noah's Ark to Stephen Baxter's novel "ARK" (have a read) there is a suggestion of retrieval or preservation of what is important or significant for human kind.

Our project is less ambitious than Baxter's novel in one sense. It does not aim for the kind of coherency necessary for a novel. On the other hand, it is more ambitious in its attempt to generate the kind of questioning and intellectual processing that can have on-going effects within a school community. To this end, the project is to provide a kind of prototype for an "academy" or "school" of the arts and humanities. As such, it will be characterized by:

  • a phenomenological approach to research and incorporation 

  • blending of methodologies from different fields of study to define and process questions

  • a questioning base for all its actions and strategies derived from identification and negotiated articulation of questions seen to be relevant

  • linking of individual perception, skills, aptitudes, inklings with collaborative investigations

  • "mantle of the expert" approaches to in-role exploration and presentation 

  • creation of "fictional" scenarios based on real "values" and the processing of "information"

  • "open ended" base for starting points for projects (though within a context with deadlines and challenging inputs from teachers and facilitators

  • heightened sensory awareness using systems of training related to "Viewpoints" techniques and other means for combining physical, emotional, intellectual potentials with intuitive awareness

  • creativity in artistic, technological and communicative presentation.

We can certainly add to the list. 


This element is only speculative at the moment. The information on which questions might be derived has only now been assembled. We are currently trying to forge out a means to reveal a process of creating and delivering a unique collaborative work. This process is simply called ArkWork. The crises is now in motion and the energy is being released.

The bottom line is that the work needs integrity and genuine vulnerability from each of the protagonists in this venture. The antagonists are visible and vocal. The reductionists are the Daleks in the system who propagate a myth of statistical reliance in dealing with the messy areas of human thought and deed. The Daleks seek order and efficiency. The Daleks seek statistical accountability within the system. The Daleks control so much of human endeavour. And they don't need to be NAZIs or totalitarian despots. The Daleks are in our families, our schools, our workplaces, our shopping centres, our corporations, our governments, our churches, our sporting organizations, our hospitals . . . in every aspect of twenty-first century living. Can they ever be overcome?

. . .  and apologies for being so polite to all these Daleks for so many years ...


Joe Woodward (June 2013)



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