Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Hopes/Dreams/Fears Dinner Party Down Under, by D. (@sortingtrolley)

The Plan

To celebrate @Platea's superfun Project III: hopes/dreams/fears, I decided to host a h/d/f dinner party. I asked friends to come in fancy dress by interpreting the theme as they wish. My girlfriend J. and I planted objects which represented hopes, and/or dreams, and/or fears around the house to stimulate discussion. These included: a horror DVD, a set of bathroom scales, lottery tickets, an injured patient (made with a CPR dummy and blanket), cotton buds (to represent global warming icecaps - a stretch I know!), a guitar, wedding magazines, and some self-help books.

We also created three posters: one for each theme. The idea was for friends to write, draw and/or brainstorm their h/d/f's during the night in a public fashion. This was in addition to private submissions that were written on printouts (from the h/d/f party pack) which I later submitted online.

The Guests

Interestingly, four of the six of us dressed as fears. We had two Fear of old age, one Dream of travel thwarted by Fear of swine flu, & I was Fear of death. Our glass-half-full friends came in their pyjamas as they Dream to go everywhere in their PJs! Best Accessory Awards must go to L. for her snout, pig ears and curly tail and to M. for his slippers. J. took out Best Prop Award for her colostomy bag.

The dinner conversation

We prepared an Indian dinner I hoped and dreamed would be a success. My fears were alleviated and it was well-received - phew! Although one guest noted on the group Fears poster that their fear was "being served Indian by someone dressed as Death". These posters were perhaps helpful, as another brave (or possibly drunk) guest confronted their fear of eyeliner by using it to scrawl "eyeliner" on the fears poster.

An example of a common fear was "not being liked"- it was great to discuss such neuroses so candidly with friends. We also acknowledged while we dream of being financially stable, our hope for general good health and happiness, and our fear of tragedy out way any financial wants. I enjoyed brainstorming our h/d/f's with each other: again it was interesting to note we had more fears than hopes or dreams.

Prompted by this observation, we had a long discussion about whether it is perhaps "Australian," as in culture-specific, to focus on fears rather than on goals, hopes and/or dreams. In my humble opinion, Australians generally emphasise our frailties over our successes. We equate self-promotion and ambition with ego-mania. The discussion concluded that it is Australian to sell yourself short and that we think it is arrogant to dream. Then we laughed and wondered if we're just too lazy to have ambitions. Or is it that we fear sharing them? We spoke about Australia's rampant Tall Poppy Syndrome and our belief that being Australian means being represented as politically apathetic and culturally stunted.

Poignantly, we had an Australian flag displayed as a fear. To some people in Australia--and more importantly in this example, amongst most of the friends I have--, the Australian flag has become a symbol of redneck pride spearheaded by the ugly Cronulla Riots. The flag generated interesting discussions about (some) Australians being embarrassed at being Australian, specifically when we consider some of our social and political history and present. Of course, discussion came full circle to apathy because we all still live here, and very comfortably too, and hardly ever protest our democratically-elected government's policies. I for one often hide behind the apathy-as-default tag because exercise/promotion/saving money/political change is "just too hard". Finally we agreed we were all just lazy and had another glass of wine. Then we danced to another fear of death reference: Michael Jackson. However, contrary to aforementioned "typical Australian attitudes," I am very proud to say our dancing was amazingly excellent, and frankly we outclassed the King of Pop's legendary Motown "Performance".

This bag was the depository of our individual paper slips on which were penned our private hopes, dreams and fears. I was so pleased that during this writing session most people shared with one person, if not all, at least one of their h/d/f's. Of equal importance is the fact that people kept a couple of h/d/f's to themselves: permitting an opportunity to 'silently voice' their most personal h/d/f's. I'm proud of, and thankful to, my friends that their most secret h/d/f's which were not just shared verbally with close friends but were also granted permission to be shared with friends and strangers on the hopes/dreams/fears facebook page & via @Platea's twitter stream. In my mind, a hope or a dream or a fear admitted to oneself is cathartic--it is proof that we are learning to understand ourselves. A hope or a dream or a fear shared with friends and with strangers is a catalyst for change--it is proof that we are yearning to understand others.


By means of introduction... Hello! my name is D. & I live in Australia. Playing with the @Platea team especially warms the part of me that once lived on the stage. I love exploring the notion of performing online, and we've formed a lovely community on twitter (and on flickr, facebook, tumblr, etc). As a bonus, these performances also facilitate my penchant for wearing eyeliner.

Nowadays you can find me working in your local public library. Come in, say hi and support your local library: we've been shush-free for 11 years. You can find me @sortingtrolley on twitter.

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