Mother and Baby

Creating a Special Time and Place

This project examines how a ceremony can give dramatic form to time and place. Acts, or a series of actions deliberately repeated in a particular context, convey meaning. In a ceremony, participants share an experience through an understood order of symbolic actions. For example, in the Japanese Tea Ceremony, the host prepares a cup of tea for the guest. The simple act of gift giving conveys meaning. The host and guest share in a ceremony, or pattern, to experience time and place. The ceremony itself is imbued with the qualities of respect, carefulness, cleanliness, and quiet. Every movement and object used in the ceremony is an expression of these qualities.

A very basic outline for the Tea Ceremony:

  1. Choose and prepare a time and place.
  2. Invite the guest.
  3. Prepare and present the tea.
  4. Thank the departing guest.

Begin this activity with a discussion of ceremonies students are familiar with, such as weddings and funerals. Brainstorm a list of qualities of common ceremonies you participate in. (For example, the list for a wedding might include joy, commitment, etc.) Now, in small groups, design and perform a ceremony. It can be a traditional ceremony -- e.g., a wedding or funeral ceremony -- or one you create to celebrate an event of your choosing.

Choose four qualities that will guide you in your choice of time, place, objects, motions, and expression. Make a basic outline of the events and their sequence. Outline and describe four qualities that you want to be inherent in your ceremony.