rat is an anarchic association of theater artists committed to sharing work and ways of working outside market and political conventions of development.
We are anarchic: unregulated and unstructured, collecting no dues, electing no officers, maintaining no centralized calendar, lawless.
We are an association: communicating by all means, but most real in live encounters - believing that the performing arts are corporal mercies, caring for bodies in space through acts of hospitality. We struggle at the same time to understand love as a rounded dramaturgy, not sentimental. Fellowship is rooted in the common ground of craft, not free-traded on the plane of emotional commerce. We don't have to work like each other, like each other's work, or even like each other. We work with and for each other.
We share work and ways of working: by requiring each other's labor and expertise, stepping past advertising and news. We cast each other, co-write, seize each other's resources, make problems with each other.
We are outside the market on the theory that every use of a dollar represents a failure of hospitality. Money is morally neutral but imaginatively stunted; we promote barter and unmediated exchanges of goods and services. We look for alternatives to conventional script and organizational development (catharsis models as defined by Boal) in the belief that the myth of perfectible efficiency endorses stasis, thing ness, and unjust concentrations of wealth (wealth as variously defined).
"rat" because: every city has them; because they build the new in the shell of the old; cunning; unlovely, ineradicable. Ana acronymic: radical alternative theater, room and transportation, race against time.
A rat meet is any size; any one can call one together; whoever comes, is (as per Alternate Roots); whatever resources there are, as long as they are shared, are sufficient. Every effort is made to provide food and shelter. The content of the meetings tends to be satisfied by the fact of their happening; meetings "happen" when bread is broken.
This is the Big Cheap Theater - mutual, tawdry, unstoppable, kenotic, present, grace-full, as much an ethical as an esthetic enterprise. We hold the right to fail, to scatter, to let go, to re-form improbably, to infiltrate, interdict, self-contradict, disavow the principles set down here, to make space when all space was thought collapsed, to make that space habitable by infusing a portable, repeatable sense of home: residence at tempo.
Write your own damn manifesto.
- erik ehn (4/11/01)