A series of three improvisations created by MA Classical & Contemporary Text (MACCT) student
Shakara Rose Carter, between May 2020 and Feb 2021, with a special introduction from the Head of MACCT, Marc Silberschatz.

Please note, these performances contain references to pregnancy loss and racism.

Introducing Triptych

You are about to view a single story in three parts. That the work is presented in this way is, I think, essential. Each part has its own narrative arc, and each has moved me and challenged me deeply. Each part is also separated by gaps of time that Shakara leaps over. They come together in their separateness, however, creating a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts. The gaps, I think, are essential to the artistry and power of the work. They might be thought of as space being made for those of us watching the work.

Having spent time with this work as a whole and in parts, I must confess to being overwhelmed – overwhelmed by their complexity, depth and honesty. I would not presume to try to capture in this introduction everything Shakara has offered here – even if I could do so, my words would never match the eloquence of the art she has created. The more I consider this work, the more I am convinced that the space it opens for us, though not always comfortable, allows us to engage in different ways based on the lenses we bring to it. To say too much would do a disservice to the work. Even so, I feel I must highlight one aspect. It seems to me that Shakara is exploring questions of what it means to live in a world that is fundamentally unjust – and what happens when it seems that’s the only world there is. In doing so, Shakara is speaking, performing and creating truth. And in the necessary conversations and reckonings now and to come, we will all need to speak truth – even and indeed especially, when that truth is difficult.

In that spirit, I feel it appropriate to offer you a piece of advice. When you reach the ending in the third part, make sure you give yourself time to fully digest it. Allow it to sit with you. Take stock of how it makes you feel. Then consider it in light of the whole story across all three parts. Having done that, allow the ending to slingshot you beyond the boundaries of the work – let your imagination play out what might come next – but do this with a clear-eyed view of the world and its injustices. Then re-examine how the ending makes you feel. This is a work of nuance, intelligence and an uncommon depth of feeling. The more of this you bring to your viewing of it, the more it will reward you.

A teacher once told me that theatre is the art of making people feel more human. It’s an idea that, directly and indirectly, has shaped much of what I’ve done for the past 20 years. This work certainly fits that description. And I feel honoured that Shakara has asked me to write this introduction, because what this work affirms is that to feel human can mean any number of things: we can feel uplifted or depressed; confused or certain; bold or frightened; content and angry. We can and do often feel all these things at once. This work has certainly made me feel all of that and more: human in every sense of the word.

Marc Silberschatz

Part 1: Accident

Part 2: Intent

Part 3: Inherit

Read our interview with Shakara where she talks about her motivations behind Triptych.

You can also find out more information about the MA Classical and Contemporary Text programme on the RCS website.