The beginning of the theory
The project of the Six Viewpoints was formulated in the landscape of Montana. In this environment distance has a physical impact on the body. The combination of high prairie and mountains inundate you with a sense of space and perspective. Man made structures appear to be nothing more than arbitrary thoughts that change in the sweep of time. The voice of this land counsels you to learn to use perspective as a tool and to cut deeply into what concerns you. This is the point of view of The Viewpoints.
In Montana the light seems to come from under your feet. Space becomes a primary language for the mind. Much work has been done on The Viewpoints site over the years but the voice of perspective has never been altered.
Early tutors, my parents Olav and Elaine and my art parents Gennie and Bob DeWeese, taught me the joys of investigating what was around me, to be interested in my own experiences, to use my own logic, to take responsibility for my ideas and to find a language to communicate them to others.
I was given the concept that you can sue your mind to move and change definitions but it is necessary to ground these thoughts in physical reality. I was taught to use the concepts of systems and logic, not as a set of rules, but to create a fluid dialogue. I learned to respect, rather than to fear deconstruction. This lesson is now articulated again and again in the Six Viewpoints process as a primary tool for creativity. I came to believe that to be a participant in the future you need to discover the discipline of separating the mechanics of the universe. Through these lessons I began to understand that copying was not necessary, not desirable and actually not possible.
To most people's surprise there is a great deal of art in Montana. I had the privilege of coming in contact with a large and varied group of artists. While most of the other children were out playing I would hang around on the backs of chairs listening to conversations among artists delving into the endless investigation of form and freedom. I came to understand that communication occupies a vital position in art. For artists, formulating languages facilitates a dialogue that connects their efforts.
I witnessed each of my tutors stand times in a special place in the world, having to fight for the freedom to hold an open view on life. I watched them work very hard to maintain credibility in a society that did not feel comfortable with people creating their own ideas. My tutors taught me that real strength is built out of the flexibility of an open mind, the courage to be fluid in accepting experiences and ideas and the discipline of self critical thinking to strive for clarity. These open views formed a central structure in my life and continue to inform the manner in which I teach The Six Viewpoints.
These early influences allowed me to conceive of the idea that theater had a basic working language and that I could find it if I kept looking. Eventually I hound The Six Viewpoints. The Viewpoints process reduces performance to a code. This code acts like a flexible measuring devise much like a transit and rod used in surveying for mapping land. The Viewpoints, like the transit and rod were devised to reveal structure. The structure. The structure we see through The Viewpoints is made in six basic windows of perception that are used to create and view theater.
THE RESULT OF THE THEORY
The practices of Six Viewpoints turn the concept of creativity inside out. The traditional definition and training of the artist as a creator/originator is replaced with a training and definition of the artist as an observer/participant.
As the artist looks at the materials with ever increasing detail their languages begin at suggest and at times to direct and at other times to receive direction. The artist is not in exclusive control of the materials as is expected in traditional theater. The work and training of an observer/participant is to enter into a dialogue allowing the materials to become the teacher resulting in a radical change in the system of theater education.
Since The Six Viewpoints releases the materials from the domination hierarchical control exhibited over them by the creator/originator a dialogue can be set up with them in their own habitats and in their own languages. Experiencing space in its own context and learning to dialogue with its languages helps in reaching past habitual use of the material. The possibility of learning directly from materials that speak languages other than our own has powerful implications. It means we have more languages with which to communicate. It means that we can communicate more information on more topics with greater subtlety. It means that the training to be an observer/participant brings with it more openness to communicate. It also places the artist in a more joyful and reverent activity, one that is free from the demands to be in control and to be right at all the times.
I think that all of the artists I mention in the history of the Viewpoints are master observer/participants.
Take a look at their work if you agree with me.