A Story of an Initiative

A Story of an Initiative

The Michael Hedley Burton play This War is Not Inevitable is coming to North Vancouver on April 2, Easter Monday. It will be shown at the Waldorf School at 1:30 pm.

This production is about the Threefold Social Organism or social threefolding, first conceived by Rudolf Steiner in the summer of 1917. It is a blueprint for how people can learn to live with one another without being dominated either by economic powers or the state or a collusion of the two. War does not need to happen. Social threefolding factors in a third power — the free spiritual and cultural life of citizens which can act as a wedge between the two other powers. Today people fight passionately over whether the Left or the Right is most qualified to govern. Could the answer be to take the best of both and lift this to something higher?

In the recent Winter 2017/18 issue of New View, an anthroposophical journal from the UK, Michael Burton writes that he was inspired to write this play because he believes that theatre can be a compelling medium. When 100 people are put in a room and exposed to something powerful and artistic, what follows can have a ripple-effect, perhaps changing the whole world.

In this spirit he wrote his play in January of 2017. So far it has been performed 35 times in New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Ireland and Germany and more than 2,000 people have engaged in some way with the idea of the TSO.

He says that there have been both high points and low points with his production.

What was especially inspiring were the lively discussions after every performance; sometimes only a few people stayed and sometimes most of the audience stayed. The general consensus, expressed in different ways, was that we are living in a time very similar to what Germany was going through 100 years ago.

In 1917 the western capitalist model was being challenged by socialist movements and by the communist revolution in Russia. There was social unrest everywhere. Workers chained to the harsh environment of smoke belching factories were yearning for another life and by the millions they read the works of Karl Marx. In our time, because of the power of connecting through smart phones and social media, people have become acutely aware of global inequalities and exploitation. The developing world today is seething with unrest, acutely conscious of social injustice.

A low point for Michael was that while at a conference of 170 Waldorf teachers, only 35 turned out to see the evening performance of the play.

From Vancouver’s end, there was initially a low point with bringing his play here. Michael reached out to our community in December but we were not able to offer anything. No one stepped forward to at least guarantee airfare to bring him and the other actor, Christian Peterson, here. An email sent to the School about a possible High School performance was not answered. We then sent an email to Michael stating reluctantly that we could not accommodate his play; there was not enough interest here. Things were at a standstill.

What happened next was magical.

Michael wrote that he would work without a guarantee. If a few of us in Vancouver could commit to bring in a good-sized audience, he would fly himself and Christian here. He advised us to contact the School after the Christmas break to arrange for the HS performance. Teachers would be more rested and better able to make plans. Michael had full confidence in the strength of his initiative. A way forward seemed possible.

We then learned that one of the Waldorf teachers was a staunch advocate of the TSO. She was able to arrange a date for the public performance at the School. A former teacher became involved as well and soon the School agreed to a HS performance and also a speech workshop for the Grade School teachers. The School was now on board!

Things were definitely beginning to move. Monica Gold offered to host the two actors and allow them the use of a car so they could get around.

We also realized that in order to bring in a sizeable audience to a performance we needed first to warm up the subject of threefolding before Michael’s visit. People here are very busy with their jobs and families and they would be more apt to come to a performance if their interest was tweaked beforehand.

Rev. Susan Locey agreed to host some “warm-up” events at the Christian Community in Burnaby. On the Sundays of March 4th and 18th at 12:15 pm, the church will host two sessions of guided conversations led at different times by Eduardo Huerte, David Adams, Ralph Danyluk and Bruce Wilkinson, all of whom are actively studying the TSO.

On Easter Monday we will gather at the Christian Community for an 11 am service. After a potluck lunch we will all make our way to the Waldorf School for the 1:30 pm play performance.

It seemed that Michael’s play, This War is Not Inevitable wanted to come to Vancouver; all that we had to do was find a way serve this initiative and everything would fall into place. And it did.

Susan Koppersmith