Playing the conditions

"The fundamental challenge remains: How can you foster both a deep and applied understanding of how things currently get done in a professional field, while also deeply questioning those standards of practice?"
-- Traditions of the calling - The Artful Manager

Can we both "play the condition" and work to change those conditions? It's a question that's been rattling around.

Tied as a performer - and as a producer and more importantly as a human being - to the questions in realism and pragmatism, it continues to trip me up.

In theatre school "playing the condition" was a significant part of what I took from the acting training of Penelope Stella and Marc Diamond (still missed.)

"Admit what's going on" is how I phrase it these days.

To see the world as close to as-it-is as I can manage, understand the circumstances that led here and then deal with this moment as honestly as possible. Whether applied to a fictional character, a task based improvisation or group facilitation, I find it hard to imagine "play the condition" not being decent advice to start from.

However, Brought up against a world so needing changing - whose conditions are unacceptable and unbearable for so many - do I play those conditions or try to change them?

In a positive sense, playing the condition is a call to be mindful of the situation on the ground; not to pine for a past that was never as good as we pretend and certainly never going to return; to take the situation as we find it and find a way.

In a less good sense, it can be seen as accepting the status quo and trying, at best, to game the system. It raises the historic failures of "changing the system from within."

It bristles against the hard-liner in my head that wants the conditions radically changed before any playing is to be done. "Playing the condition is the privilege of the few. The rest are played by the condition." …etc, etc.

I don't know that there are answers - but the question seems important.

loose thoughts at the end: It's worth being weary of abstracting performance practices and theories into geo-politics or social principles, but I think it is worth trying on, at least for moment.