A preliminary draft of the capstone film for “Ritual Creativity, Improvisation, and the Arts," a project sponsored by Yale University's Institute of Sacred Music. This film evokes, summarizes, and refers back to the tributary videos posted on this site. Please note that this version is now outdated, having been superseded by a second draft: vimeo.com/ronaldlgrimes/rite-to-play.
Based on a year and a half of interviews, participant observation, and documentation, the film touches on a large number of artistic and ritualistic genres, among them: music, painting, dance, storytelling, liturgy, festivity, and healing. Filmed in two Canadian cities (Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo) and two American cities (New York and New Haven).
The film, more musical than either narrative or dramatic, is a braid of improvisational activity, ritual experiment, and oral reflection. The aim is to open up a visual and sonic space in which audience members themselves are lured into improvising their own ways of experiencing and thinking about the connection (or disconnection) among improvisation, ritual, and the arts. This space is created partly by trimming away contexts and not laying in identifiers, leaving viewers to infer who are the teachers and who the are the learners; also by creating surprising connections and setting up disturbing dissonances.
The subtext, which will eventually become a written or filmed scholarly piece is perhaps best summarized by Charles Darwin who is said to have said, “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” Even if the quotation is apocryphal, a claim about improvisation's importance for survival is at the core of the project.
Since this is a draft, I am happy to receive comments and constructive suggestions for revision. You can either post them in the Comments section for this film or send them directly by e-mail: to: ronaldLgrimes@gmail.com. E-mail me for the password.