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“Hope is this kind of arm you extend into the dark on behalf of others… all the privilege that I have and what’s working out for me… how dare I be hopeless.”

In his 2019 interview for The On Being Project, writer, photographer, and art historian Teju Cole talks about the Inuit word qarrtsiluni, which he translates as “sitting in the dark together, waiting for something to happen”.

It’s an incredible interview, offering a meditation on the art that helps us, that “jolts us awake”. The work that isn’t written for the day, but for the middle of the night. The value of silence and concentration, “how do you help other people concentrate?”.

And he talks about hope.

“Hope is this kind of arm you extend into the dark on behalf of others… all the privilege that I have and what’s working out for me… how dare I be hopeless.”

As artists, creators, cultural workers, and audience members, we spend a lot of time sitting together in the dark waiting for something to happen. And even now, with all our theatres shuttered, our cultural spaces closed to our communities, I find we are in that same space. We are now alone, together, in the dark, waiting for something to happen.

Toward the end of the interview, which I hope you’ll take the time to enjoy, Cole acknowledges the grim view that “we’re not here for a long time, and LOL no one cares”. But he also talks about that moment within our favourite song, or that first bite into the perfectly seasoned (and particularly peppered) goat biryani, or that long walk, or that piece of art… those fleeting moments that offer you a reminder that, “hey, this is why you’re alive”.

Cole quotes Seamus Heaney’s poem Postcript, which I offer the end of here:

Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Over the next several weeks, our team at The Theatre Centre is going to offer you some of our own personal joys, those things that nudge us, the arms that extend to us in the dark, those things that catch our hearts off guard. And we’d love to hear from you in return… what’s blowing your heart open these days?

— Aislinn Rose

Listen to Teju’s interview.

More Alone Together
Week 2: Producer Alexis Eastman
Week 3: Marketing Coordinator Tamara Jones
Week 4: Marketing and Communications Manager Kyle Purcell