Creative Collective Ceremonies
Adam Boncz in GF&CO's 3C: This is Not A Cure: A Ceremony for Healing
THE ORIGIN OF 3C's
When NYC went on lockdown in March 2020, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, daily life was stripped down to the most essential and most meaningful activities. My role as a theatre artist, and the function of live performance, was also shut down; three of my directing gigs and two of my teaching jobs were cancelled.
However, rather than wonder when the business of theater would resume, I pondered what form of performances and group events would be the most beneficial and most meaningful for us as a society as we traveled through this period of great unknowns, and what will speak to us as we emerge on the other side.
The pandemic sent us into an extended period of liminality: a time and space between who we were and how we lived, and who we will become and how our lives will have changed.
Liminal time is often associated with the middle phase of a rite-of-passage ceremony. In performance, ritual and ceremony are woven into the tapestry of every event, from the entrance of the audience into an auditorium, to the rise of the curtain, to the final bows of the performers.
From the perspective of liminality, I saw that one way in which performance might be meaningful and beneficial would be to create and facilitate originally devised, secular, outdoor, public ceremonies that honor and offer an intention of healing for the wide range of losses generated by the pandemic.
We've come to refer to these as Creative Collective Ceremonies (3C).
WHAT IS A 3C?
3Cs are unique, collaboratively created, and entirely free ritual performances devised with the intention to offer a transporting experience into the sacred, mystical, and liminal realms of ceremony: ceremonies for awakening a vision of possibility and new beginnings through an encounter with the transcendent and transformative powers found in the ancient origins of art and performance.
Each 3C aims to create and illuminate the three phases of a rite-of-passage ceremony:
· Phase ONE: Separation / Isolation
· Phase TWO: The Threshold/ Liminal Space/ The Bardo/ The Sacred
· Phase THREE: Transcendence / Incorporation/ New Birth/ New Beginning/ Spring
THE ORIGINAL VISION
Originally, my vision was for 3C's to be live, in-person, spring-summer events, that are open to the public and as a non-ticketed, entirely free experience (with careful attention paid to Covid-19 protocols for assuring the safety and health of everyone involved).
Making 3C's a free event was important to me. It seems to me there is a great need for healing world-wide during this period of the pandemic, and I did not want to limit "healing" by setting boundaries.
Each 3C's was conceived to be an interactive experience that engages the public --heretofore referred to as participants-- in a rite-of-passage ceremony that embraces loss, transformation, and new beginnings.
The ceremony would be guided by an ensemble of performers, or “docents,” who would lead participants through a predetermined (carefully designed and structured) journey. Docents would instruct and support participants when and where and how they could participate in original and creative ritual activities (collaboratively created by the ensemble), while also performing a mixture of choreography, song, music, and spoken word.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF GF&CO's FIRST 3C
In December of 2020 I met with a small group of GF&CO members in a Zoom meeting. The group was formed by those who had expressed interest in the idea of 3C's earlier in the year: some of whom had lost a family member to Covid, all of us who had lost at last one, two, or more, gigs because of the pandemic. We began discussing ideas for a live, in-person, 2021 spring or summer 3C event.
At this first meeting, I wondered aloud how could we possibly overcome Covid protocols and isolation, and the fact that we were residing in different cities, states, and countries, and begin experimenting on this project. And GF&CO Member Randolph Curtis Rand suggested we just start improvising on Zoom and see what happens.
And so, we did.
OUR CREATIVE PROCESS
We began by having me offer a "creative assignment" to the group once a month. Then every other week, and by February assignments, meetings, creating and experimenting became was happening on a weekly basis.
Assignments were based upon ideas in the form of photos, essay's, music, articles, videos, personal experiences, and questions that came up in our discussions on themes of ritual, ceremony, loss, and healing.
Very soon what started to evolve was something quite remarkable: small performance pieces that no one could have imagined; exquisite, entirely original, deeply personal, movement-based, "rituals".
Within our group we had a range of members who had been with the company from 3 - 10 years, and the extraordinary quality of experimentation, invention, trust, and artistry was, the kind of investigation and an expression of commitment that comes from a team of artists who have worked together and trained together (in OTOA) for more than a few years : it was the quality that comes with company.
FROM A LIVE CEREMONY EVENT
TO A ZOOM VIDEO CEREMONY OFFERING
It was still January, when we learned that NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio had decided to make March 14 an official Day of Remembrance in NYC (the date of the first recorded death in NYC due to Covid19), which we concluded, with the pandemic still very active, was was too soon for us to rehearse and produce a live event came up. But when the idea of creating a video ceremony on Zoom in recognition of March 14 was tossed into the mix, and putting the original idea of a live ceremony on pause, we all got on board.
The beauty of our Zoom development process was that although some of us were based in Brooklyn, and some in other parts of New York, we were also able to work with a member in Wisconsin, but also with members in Mexico, and Hungary.
The danger of working on Zoom was that we did not want to create something that looked like yet another one of the Zoom meetings that all of us had become used to and tired of. We knew we were going to shoot the entire thing on Zoom, but we were all committed to finding inventive ways to use the medium to take it out of the quotidian and into the realm of the transcendent, the sacred, them mystical and the liminal.
Somewhere in February, the idea of a remembering the dead was outweighed by our original intention: a ceremony of healing for the wide range of losses generated by the pandemic. And so, we set a new deadline, March 19: the eve of the first day of Spring, the Spring Equinox, a date that aligned with our original intention: healing and rebirth.
But March 19 also held a triple significance. Not only is it the eve of Spring, and not only does it happen to be my birthday, but 2021 is GF&CO's 10 Year Anniversary (10 years since Katrina Foy and I founded the company). and March 19 was the ten year anniversary of GF&CO's first production: the salon presentation of Shaw's, How He Lied to Her Husband.
We titled this first 3C:
This Is Not A Cure: A Ceremony for Healing
A title that arose out of conversation from the group, where a distinction was made between the effects of a cure and the intentions of a healing.
With 2021 marking GF&CO's 10 Year Anniversary as a company, and this project being such an extraordinary example of what it means to work with a company of artists, this project has become a meaningful celebration, a special birthday gift, and a healing balm from the challenging journey of the last year.
We are not charging tickets to view this video.
We are not using it as a fundraising tool.
We are not making access password restricted.
We ARE making this entirely FREE & Fully Accessible
Whether you are a treasured colleague, an enduring patron, a dear friend, a beloved family member, or a patron of the arts, we are not asking for financial donations. We are asking for help to make the healing go viral.
Please help us to bring our "Ceremony for Healing" to the largest number of people we can reach by "dropping" the video into your social media feed (on your Facebook page(s); your Instagram account; your LinkedIn account; your WhatsApp account, your Text Messages or by Email, or etc., etc. whatever means you have available ).
The intention of this project is to truly make this a HEALING experience: to offer something that addresses loss, promotes community, and awakens possibility as the first days of spring often do.
HELP THE HEALING GO VIRAL
Let us come together and begin to heal.
Artistic Director & Founder