The play I have been working with lately got its name yesterday – THE OTHER WORLD is a piece about wilderness, civilization, care and control, and about someone else’s problems. Within the play, I explore the presence of wilderness that is juxtaposed with civilization through utopian and dystopian otherworlds – places of escape – and through attempts to cease them.
The juxtaposition between civilization and wilderness feels false to me: If we ever were – and I think we very much still are, despite our dissociative behaviour where the knowledge of destroying what we need the most makes us believe there is nothing we can do – part of the wilderness, did civilization not grow out of wilderness and does it not share the same characteristics?
One of the famous quotes about how civilization began comes from anthropologist Margaret Mead, who said that beginning of civilization was the mending of a broken femur, because within the animal kingdom you were doomed if you hurt yourself that badly. It was the time someone took to help someone that to her meant civilization began.
However, the quality of care did already exist within wilderness – compassion is not only a characteristic of human species, for example, trees take care of each other – the difference to before was that someone had the time and tools, the resources, to attend to someone else’s hurt within our kind, species which tends to use more than they give. The civilization Mead talks about, and the civilization I would want to extent toward all our fellow beings, began from means to act more compassionately toward each other despite being a destructive existence.
Afterwards, the amount of care and nurture within human race has both extended and grown and become excessive and sometimes lethal. It has, like all that is wild, changed and found new ways and pockets where it can exist, sometimes stepping on toes of other beings, over-consuming and indulging, and sometimes comfortably dividing space, co-existing.
We have hospitals, doctors, vets, and healers, we have scientists researching for cures to all kinds of ills – and we have pampering and luxury and advertisements that remind us how important it is to take care of oneself. We have care that is crushing like control, where our fear of anything happening makes us grow wildflowers in curated conditions. We have living wills where we can forbid keeping ourselves alive past the point of no return, and we have discussions over euthanasia. And so on.
We also have a planet that is literally burning, which we escape inside otherworlds – dreams of spaceships and voids where we give up. I wonder, whether exploring the false juxtaposition between civilization and wilderness, between otherworlds and the one that is, between utopias and resources, is a way to become wild again – a way to give up on the achieved lifestyle, the unnecessary, the extend, a way to find balance between care and life that is eventually death and then life again?
The play is being written for actress Anastasia Trizna in Finland with the support from Taike & Galway County Council. I’m also looking for actor in Ireland who’d be interested in doing the show – it’s a bit immersive, site-related and requires someone who has a passion toward creating better worlds. Email me with any enquiries to jenni.nikinmaa at gmail.com