During his lifetime Idries Shah promoted contacts and connections between different traditions around the world, believing this to be an important element in the advancement of human culture.
In this spirit, The Idries Shah Foundation has created ‘Cultural Crossroads’, a website forum where people from many walks of life are invited to talk about their own experiences crossing cultural boundaries, and the lessons that they have learned as a result.
You can find the full series here: https://idriesshahfoundation.org/cultural-crossroads/
About Christina Murdock
Award-winning actor, writer and opera singer, Christina Murdock, whose exceptional body of work has bridged both sides of the Atlantic, offers her own unique insights into performing on a profoundly moving yet challenging theme.
Christina Murdock’s one-woman show Dangerous Giant Animals, runs at The Tristan Bates Theatre in London’s West End from 20th to 24th November.
Tickets available here: https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/dangerous-giant-animals
Christina’s web site can be found here: https://www.christinamurdock.com/dgaplay
Q. As a performer who has appeared before audiences in many countries, and on both sides of the Atlantic, can you describe how your audiences have differed country to country? And how have you found yourself tweaking your performance to accommodate where you happen to be?
I’ve been lucky enough to perform my show in London, Edinburgh, and New York City. New Yorkers tend to be very expressive, laughing loudly and often. British audiences tend to be more reserved and held back in their reactions, so I get much less audible feedback about how they feel about the play. As an American, I took that personally at first, thinking if British audiences were silent, then they hated my show. But I’ve learned that no matter how people react during the performance, most of them walk out being very moved. I always greet the audience afterwards, and find that audiences from every culture openly expresses how the show made them feel. And that’s what it’s all about for me – knowing that my story has touched someone and opened them up.
Q. Your new show, Dangerous Giant Animals arrives in to London’s West End this week. Can you describe the central themes you have developed, and the process of conceiving, writing, and performing a one-woman show?
I wanted to tell a story that people hadn’t heard before. Knowing I was the writer and performer, I looked to my own life and what was unique about it. My experience growing up with my younger sister who has severe disabilities is one that I’ve never seen on stage or on screen. There are so few stories of disability and there are even fewer from the sibling perspective. Realising I was diving into a taboo subject that most people were unaware of, I knew I had a high level of responsibility to do the subject justice. I needed to translate an experience that seems normal to me and make it accessible for those who have no connection to disability. We have a lot of cultural barriers around discussing disability and my mission with the show is to break down those barriers. I focused my story on what’s at the heart of my experience: the complexity of care-giving, the challenges of how we deal with disability in our society, and the immense love I have for my sister. While she is defined as being disabled, my sister is someone who just has different abilities. I hope my show illustrates that perspective I’ve learned from growing up with her.
Q. As an actor, writer, and opera singer, do you ever get the sense that society tries to pigeon-hole us, steering creative people away from being polymathic? Are there other fields you would like to work with, to harness new streams of yet untapped creativity?
I’m definitely a polymath and I’ve received criticism along the way for being one. It’s common to hear as an actor: ‘you have to love this career more than anything else, because it’s too hard and too demanding if you don’t’. I always heard that and replied, ‘but I love many things, not just acting’. Over time I’ve learned that it is in fact because of my polymathic nature that I am committed to being a multi-faceted artist and performer. It’s my choice, rather than a necessity, to pursue this career and that empowers me through the ups and downs. I have a lot of other interests and have worked in the past in the education and business sectors. I’m excited by how the arts can intersect with business and technology and hope to do more work with that on future projects.