Friday morning. Traces of the conversation hover over the silence of the empty room. On the paper tablecloth amongst the discarded coffee cups, scattered peanuts and wilting stalks of mint someone has scribbled Tony Kushner’s line: ‘Respect the ecology of your own delusions’.
A few weeks ago we bought a table for the Entelechy office: a long, oval, family dining table with matching chairs. We threw out the two pushed together Formica and metal desks that you could never get your legs properly underneath and went for solid wood. Years ago I was taught to spurn ‘spray on’ furniture polish: “Use a cloth and your elbow, it’s the difference between surface shine and deep glow”.
The conversations we have had around this table have been ‘deep glow’. It was christened with a performance event from the imaginations of Malika Booker and Gwen Sewell, one of the little explosions of work from our thrilling scratch collaboration with Battersea Arts Centre. Malika and Gwen curated a gentle mix of quilting, conversation and storytelling. Since then things have just quietly unfolded.
Our elders company mapped out the next couple of years of their work over chicken rice and beans. They’ve had transatlantic Skype devising sessions with seniors from our sister company EngAge in Los Angeles. We have shared strawberries and coffee with senior social care and cultural managers and started to hatch plans with Freedom Studios in Bradford. The table allows for the segue between those ordinary nothing in particular type moments into the ‘what if, what might?”
It’s all about conversation. “The kind of conversation I like is one in which you are prepared to emerge a slightly different person” says historian and philosopher Theadore Zeldin.
They say that the problem is that we don’t eat together any more. Well we’ve started.