Another evening of Playback Theatre and I feel humble. There is such a strong urge in me to respond, engage that sometimes I forget that it is okay to watch, sit back and absorb what is happening around me. I am worried that if I don’t perform, I will appear lazy, scared, unimaginative. But sometimes I don’t want to respond. I just want to dance. I want to move to my own rhythm, be in my own metaphor, offer something that is not collaborative, not tuned into the group, just me. Is this a result of being in a family, always trying to be aware of the needs of others? Sometimes I just want to move in space, and offer that as my contribution. A moving body, following my inner muse, inspired by others but not beholden.

And sometimes when I try to coordinate my impulses with those of the group I feel awkward, insensitive, insincere. Like I am proposing ideas that are not articulate, not clear, from a different point of departure. My ego feels too strong, so I try to back away and I lose the thread of the improvisation. My struggle in creative processes (which includes living in a family) has always been the tension between individual and collective experiences.

I remember a quote attributed to Emma Goldman, anarchist involved in the heady days of the Russian revolution:

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution…”

Apparently not her words, but those of anarchist t-shirt printer – the sentiment remains imprinted in my approach to collective endeavours. It becomes the question for me: How do I engage, as myself, and be in something that is larger than myself?