Breaking, Scattering, Accelerating


In Japanese culture there is an aesthetic understanding known as Jo-Ha-Kyū. Easily mistaken for the more western idea of Beginning-Middle-End, the principle of Jo-Ha-Kyū is actually more akin to a wave in the ocean than that of a fairy tale. With a beginning, middle and end there is a finite constraint on time and space. Nothing existed before and nothing will exist after; the middle is sandwiched between two walls. 

Alternatively, the Jo is an impulse, the Ha a break or scattering, and the Kyū is a rapid acceleration. Rather than serving as walls, the Jo and Kyū are actually one in the same, or shared. The beginning of one is the ending of another. Furthermore, within every Jo-Ha-Kyū is in fact another Jo-Ha-Kyū. In Japanese theatrical traditions, a festival would contain a Jo-Ha-Kyū, each play within the festival the same, each scene within the play, each line within a scene, each word… you see where this is going.

But camp. Why am I writing about theatre theory on our blog about summer camp?

Yesterday we began our second session of 2019. It comes quickly on the heels of our first session show day, an exhausting (and very hot) celebration of five plays that ranged from a site-specific Mamma Mia! to a brand new play to an outdoor Shakespeare In Love. It is somewhat challenging for staff and campers alike to both end an intense experience and begin a new one in such a short period of time. With our traditional understanding of these moments we would habitually slow down, let the moment linger and then allow ourselves to exhale, relaxing into a sense of completion.

Chris Murrah  Senior Director

Chris Murrah
Senior Director

What we challenge our staff and campers to do is to actually accelerate through this ending and into the next moment, carrying the energy of the previous moment into whatever comes next. Our staff are energized for the next session, carrying memories of first session into openness for new experiences. Our campers who are still at camp are doing the same, knowing that their fondness for and missing of friends who have gone home is news of the certainty that more bonds will be formed this session. And, our campers who have returned to default worlds of home are encouraged to seek out ways to share the Joy, Community, Creativity and Gratitude they were able to practice these last three weeks.