Memes, Rituals and Broken Mugs: a Bluffer's Guide to Being Human

Memes, Rituals and Broken Mugs: a Bluffer's Guide to Being Human

A Bluffer’s Guide to Being Human is coming to the Corpus Playroom next week. Artistic Director Carla Keen, tells us why the company delight in… [Have we started the interview yet? Sorry, I’m just sitting down, is it on? Can you hear me OK? OK, right, OK, um…yes, I’ve got a story about a mug, is that OK? What is this show about? Um, OK…]

Last week, I treated myself to a new mug (sad, I know, but it cheered me up.) When I got home, I noticed a chip in the pattern on the front. At first, I was disappointed because I wanted this object to be perfect, and it wasn’t. Then I realised, it doesn’t have to be, it’s my mug, no-one else has one like this, the chip represents its journey to my house.

I guess that sort of explains it. Humans are a bit like mugs? This is a show about the quirks and habits that make us individual; the tiny personal rituals we have that get us by, like eating an even number of Pringles, or wearing your lucky socks, things that no-one would notice, or care about, but are just what we do.

[Sorry, do you mind if we just pause for a second, I need to adjust my…it’s, sorry, could you just look…no, over there. Thanks. OK, you can carry on…the theme? Right, yes…]

Really, it’s a show about tiny personal rituals and how they impact our lives. In psychology, people talk about memetics (which is where the word ‘meme’ comes from), which describes how ideas propagate by jumping from one mind to another, and that’s part of how we evolve as cultural beings. It’s the unconscious process of ‘I say this thing because I heard my brother say it a lot’.

During rehearsals, we looked at traditions (rituals where we do things when we no longer have any sense of why.) Erica has no idea why her mum used to keep the bread in the microwave, but she does it too, because that’s what her family does. Perfectly normal to her, but to me, that’s weird.

[Yes, it is really all made up. But not in a ‘Whose Line is it Anyway’ style, it’s…it’s more like, you know when you watch, um, um, like Parks and Rec, or I don’t know, like Mike Leigh, but when he’s not being serious? I mean, it is sometimes serious, but it’s mostly funny…]

There’s something very special about improvised work, where a performer shares the realisation of what their scene partner is communicating at the same time as the audience. We’ve been improvising in this way for over 10 years, so the storytelling comes naturally now and seems incredibly fluid, but the scenes are never the same so there’s always the joy of discovery, right in front of you.

This style of performance lends itself incredibly well to the idea of personal quirks and characteristics. improvisation as an artform celebrates imperfections and mistakes, so there’s a natural synergy between form and content.

[Sorry, yes, do you mind if I do the marketing bit here? Just let people know where to get tickets…that kind of thing.]

A Bluffer’s Guide to Being Human is performing at the Corpus Playroom between Thursday 7 and Saturday 9 April

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[Did you get all that?]