Causal Coincidence

Oh. Hello. Been waiting here long, have you? Here, let me just get out my keys, and . . . . Wow. Which one is it again? Oh right: "Aviary." That makes sense. And to the door which is now, open again. Huzzah! Hello! Welcome! Your back-order of ponderous pontification awaits!

Theatre and technology have in my mind of late been taking interesting waltzes together. This is owing largely to my new adventures in administration with

the ACTion Collective

, which incorporates a lot of models from Internet media and business, because

Collaborator Andrew

and I are raging geeks. It also, however, has a thing or two to do with personal discoveries I've been making about my interactions with others. For example, in acknowledgement of finally emptying my inbox (upon purchase of a so-called "


" phone) I decided that from here on out I would reply to every single email I receive. Previously, I did not, because I saw it as a waste of time and a furthering of compulsive behavior. Now I'm finding that I get much better responses and results from the people I'm corresponding with when I always reply in some way, not to mention the better results I get from myself by always trying to find something to add. It's a very basic idea. It's also a core tenet of good acting.

Look for a future post regarding my ideas about theatre being the original "social media." Breathless anticipation, thy name is 'blog . . .

One particularly interesting overlap I find in the folds is the way in which theatre and electronic mediums of communication reflect our social behavior back to us in often startling and crystal-clear ways. I recently read

an alarming article

(link to some salty language and disturbing behavior) that addressed the strange privilege we all seem to feel now to be reporters rather than people involved in what's going on around us. We've always been drawn to vicarious experience, even before YouTube and video games, and some of us are drawn to involvement in the creation of such experiences. The voyeur impulse is strong in all of us, I think, because we continually need to refresh our sense of belonging -- self-awareness can be oddly isolating.

Do others feel things the way I do? If only I could see into other people...especially when they think they're alone....

There's more to it than that of course. It's all really rather complex.

Which brings me to a term I'm using lately to describe a phenomenon I've particularly noticed lately: causal coincidence. It's difficult for me to discuss this idea without getting inured in issues of philosophy and religion, but it's not my aim here to expound on those aspects. No, I'm just standing back and marveling at the way Twitter works, and how similar I find it to the way in which acting work comes my way. To (t)wit -- a large number of tiny incidents, relatively unrelated, somehow culminate into a large or significant effect. I say "relatively unrelated" because it's difficult (impossible?) to determine all the interactions in something with as grand a scope as Twitter's network, or the casting community of New York. I think of fractals, Escher progressions and helices -- tiny, basic elements that develop seemingly of their own accord into complex structures. Issues of cause and effect seem almost meaningless in this context.

In 2003, I decided that a good way to spend my birthday would be by starting it out going to an audition, so I did. In spite of a strong audition, it didn't seem I'd get the part -- they were looking for someone who played the piano -- but through a series of incidents, I did. We ended up incorporating my circus skills, which took it in quite a different direction. That show led to returning to work with the same theatre in subsequent summers, and seeing a show that involved my costar from the first show. That show grabbed my attention, and I mentioned admiring the work to the director. Years later, I was invited to join their new project, in which I became deeply involved for a couple of years. A lot of change went on for me during that time, including both rather seriously injuring myself, and acquiring the most raw strength I've ever had, and much as a result of both I made a return to circus studies, which in turn has me now seeking out playwrights and performers to create my own circus theatre.

And off of all that, myriad other unexpected challenges and opportunities. You could point to any one action in my career and see how it indirectly led to things amazingly other, and maybe that's just life, but it's brought into sharp relief when you consider the question of cause, or coincidence. I see it as both. More specifically, I see coincidence -- that is, any correlation between (relatively) unrelated actions or events -- as often being causal, and I see a certain mass effect when these causal coincidences coincidentally accumulate.

Maybe another definition of the whole question is in order, but I'm not going to be the one to make that happen. What I'm going to do is embrace the function, however it functions, and make the most of it. To be involved, and not merely reporting.

Though the reporting can be pretty great, too.