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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

There is no such thing as a baby: The origins of trust

I wonder what brought you here. I imagine that you are here because you trust - or hope - that it will be interesting...or easy. Or maybe you are here because you are curious, uncertain, open to experience and discovery... like the baby. I wonder if you are here for a feed. Perhaps you are wondering: 'What is she going to give me that will entertain me, or educate me, or nurture me?' I might be wondering: 'What are you going to give me that will make me feel that offering this paper was a good idea, or make me feel good about myself, or feel nurtured?' Because, you see, there is no such thing as this conference paper, unless of course there is someone to engage with it. That will be difficult if you have not seen the online performance text of There is no such thing as a baby before attending this session. The idea is that each one of us has an opportunity to contribute in our own unique way.This is not a passive feed. And it's not really a paper either. It's more like theatre. But that doesn't make it any less real. It might even make it more so.But what has theatre got to do with trust? Theatre is changing dramatically! (The pun is intentional). When I was young, going to the theatre meant sitting quietly in my seat watching and listening to the story unfolding on the stage. I might have felt fear or horror, laughed out loud, or cried real tears but I stayed in my seat, engrossed and mostly silent, while my imagination worked overtime. Now, a trip to the theatre - some call it post-dramatic theatre - may include a variety of physical and/or conscious interactions between myself and the actors or other audience members. There may not even be seats! I might be asked to interact with an iPad or to choose which direction the story should take and with what props; the story may have no discernable beginning, middle or end and it may include other art forms like dance or music, sculpture or painting, video or a collection of sounds; there may be a cast of thousands indistinguishable from the audience in the streets, or no one but myself and a piece of electronic equipment. There may not even be a story. The German theatre researcher, Hans-Thies Lehmann had this to say about post-dramatic theatre: The spectators are no longer just filling in the gaps in a dramatic narrative but are asked to become active witnesses who reflect on their own meaning-making and who are also willing to tolerate gaps and suspend the assignment of meaning (Lehmann 2007).Here, we have seats, a stage, and even a performance of sorts, but all of us, including me, are in the metaphorical dark. This paper has the flavour of post-dramatic theatre where text is no longer the main event. The plot is a work in progress and the denouement is uncertain. All we have is the space, our selves, and whatever our selves might bring.