Being before (everything else) – English summary

(In the first paragraph I introduce the project – where we went in Tallinn and about the overall nature of ‘Lecture For Every One’.)

As a performer, my thoughts about the overall similarity of human beings came to the conclusion that our values, wishes, fears etc. might be more similar than we think.

The text addresses some key aspects of individuality and sociality, living together. It is so universal that it offers something to every single person. The reactions are personal and rather provoked by the listener’s personal situation in life. Also the context plays an important role, and the reception is undoubtedly different when it is e.g. a very official meeting of top managers or directors. The reception is perhaps affected by the overall dominant rhetorics in a concrete institution or company. Yet the text addresses everyone, apart from their position. It addresses people as parents, children, husbands and wives, even those who are always seen only as the ‘function’ they have in society. And here I see the biggest achievement of the lecture, that it talks about love, humanity, freedom and failure to those who are not allowed to fail, who have less freedom in a social perspective (meaning politicians and such).

The reactions are very different every time, but during the lectures, for me, some patterns started to come to the fore. In the beginning listeners are usually confused, trying to hide themselves behind ironic smiles or comments. When the message starts to spread, they go to their inner worlds, some of them start to close up, some are a bit intimidated. For me the moment when I see their faces change by emotions and thoughts, is the most unexpected and the most beautiful. The moment when the audience turns towards their own personal life. The closer they are to the text in that second, the more distant they seem to be.

‘Lecture For Every One’ is ‘giving’ on different levels: the author, Sarah Vanhee, gives her work away every time a local performer is involved. The new performer inserts his/her own images, values and thoughts into the process and adds a new layer. Also, every performance is adding new meanings to the text, depending on new listeners who percieve it in different ways. So in the nature of this whole project is this accumulative meaning and significance which grows every time the lecture is presented. The lecture is characterized by sharing – it is a way to share something with the community and with individuals. So it is a whole of moments, different situations, reactions and emotions. Reactions and thoughts that hopefully continue resonating in listeners’ minds later on.

‘Lecture For Every One’ is persuasive and gentle, straightforward and sincere. The challenge for me as a performer was balancing between being concrete and convincing and at the same time being absolutely open and honest. You can guide strangers’ emotions in a situation where – thanks to sudden interruption – they are fully exposed and vulnerable.

The Estonian version of the text has a quite poetic sound, it flows freely but has enough sharp edges and places where it can cut deeply into the audience. Funny stories marked by serious and thought-provoking conclusions. Love, care, freedom and… war. Catastrophe.

One of the key points that reveal themselves through the whole text is being right here, right now. Après nous, le déluge. At this moment we don’t comprehend exactly what lies ahead of us in this little corner of Eastern Europe. There are the following lines in the text: “There’s always a moment before, before you push the button, before you kiss, before the war starts…” These people. This room. BEFORE.

‘Lecture For Every One’ is not simply a lecture, it’s a gift. A gift that gives itself only to those who stretch out. To those who really let themselves feel the moment, the moment here and now that is marked by past and future. If everything goes well, a kind of intimacy is gained at the end. Being present expanding to a process of looking back and forward. To a meditation, gratefulness, expectations. ‘Lecture For Every One’ connects individuals and binds them with at least 15 minutes of time spent together in that room. And a shared moment? That’s a gift. Afterwards, come what may.

Iiris Viirpalu