Super Night Shot
Using four simultaneous cameras and the streets of New York as their stage, Gobsquad went on a quest to rid anonymity and create beauty from the banal. (A noble cause in NYC...) Their mission: to aid the hero's journey and facilitate intimacy and love in a city of millions.
The final task - to give the hero a woman to kiss.
Using strangers or non-actors means a kind of honesty in the participants direct response. On the night I was there (A Sunday), they were very lucky to have found someone so willing to take part in the ride. It was such a simple concept and construct. Give four people cameras, a role in the drama, tasks to be achieved throughout the hour and hopefully come together at the end of an hour with a willing participant. But how this was coordinated through mixing the sound from four different screens live, was so precise and so human. An inspiring show. It made me think of new modes for live performance. I don't think it had as a profound an impact as Kitchen (their previous show, which also performed again in NYC) had on me the previous year, but it was still innovative and exciting to be a part of.
El Pasado Es un Animal Grotesco
Human. Precise. Timing. Poetry. Whimsy. Beauty in the everyday. Life, love, mourning, loss and starting over. Of hoping and wanting another life, a new start..
Of compassion, understanding and complexity. The passing of time and the cycle of life. A precise and haunting decadent ride into the lives of five who twist and turn around and try again.
I will remember the inventiveness of form, the ways in which their spoke to each other largely through narration (and yet the show always felt active) and the simple, beautiful concept of a sundial onstage, slowly taking us through ten years of these character's lives.
It felt epic. A tale across generations. So rarely do we see the playing out of lives, who by virtue of the time signature, are connected. It didn't matter that their stories didn't meet up. It didn't matter if they took their time -that was the point. It didn't feel labored, rather it felt precise, concise. Such an inspiring piece of theater that will stay with me for a long time.
Half Straddle's Away Uniform
Isolation in a world of cues and meaning, striving for meaning, significance, intimacy..
A desolated landscape bordering on crude, attempting to find the edge where it's more alive than the mundane reality these characters exist in.
Continous moments of half tension, where it felt things should or could snap, but didn't.
I felt like a stranger in this work. I couldn't access it's full weight and I wondered why. I saw others enjoying it, understanding its nuances and relishing in the inner lives of the characters.
It reminded me of the detached characters within Julia Jarcho's A Dreamless Land. I wondered if ironic, mismatched people in a land of strange and stranger, is part of an American consciousness speaking to a younger generation who are confused, lost, lost in time and space, wanting connection, confusing lust for intimacy and responding to the US identity / debt / war crisis. I don't know. I'd be curious to hear other people's thoughts.
This was such an epic piece, so ambitious in scope and such a ride. It did feel a tad too long, but I really appreciated the playfulness, the themes explored (Dutch Trade route history and the impact of capitalism in the US alongside the economic bubble bursting - something I read a bunch about during the start of the year with Port Cities) and the stunning music by Heather Christian.
It is inspiring to see musicals that can sound different, sexy, bluesy and alive.
Young Jean Lee's An Untitled Feminist Show.
Brave. Bold. Defiant. Playful. Raw.
A huge statement made by an ensemble clearly very courageous.
At times raucous and loud, in our faces with the kind of anger that has been constrained for generations, finally let out to scream.
And at other times playful, ironic, humorous, showing the kind of games that get played out from kindergarten. - eat or be eaten, don't stray from your group and friends sticking up for friends. All of this, in the nude.
The entrance was confronting, the bodies descending down the stairs of the auditorium, all so different. It was fresh to see people in all of their glory, and all so different, yet sexy - comfortable in their own skin.
I think what they were careful to do, bar maybe one moment, was to place "sex" in the room. Naked women are just that, naked women. But the focus was not on sex, but on gender - identity and identities. So we stopped seeing the nudity and began to see just what they were doing with their bodies. And to highlight this, they all came on clothed for the bow, which felt so strange to see, as if we'd gotten used to seeing them as they are without any artifice.
Props go to Mikhael Barishnikov and the BAC for presenting the work. Coming from a Ballet background, I am so curious to know what he must've thought on seeing so many non balletic bodies dancing ballet steps on his stage, in the nude.
I went in not sure if I'd enjoy the show, only with a growing curiosity for Young Jean Lee's work. And I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the work, admired its intent, felt enthused and excited by how provocative it was and felt like I witnessed something akin to a 1970's happening, with the potential to shift the way in which we view gender and performance for years to come.
So I am busy directing a new play by fabulous playwright Daniella Shoshan for NYC's International Fringe Festival.
I took on the challenge of directing someone else's work to learn what it feels like to place myself in someone else's world, to work with characters and text and to find ways to meld my visual and spatial aesthetic with the poetry of Daniella's writing. It's also not usual for me to work within a theater space, with most of my work having, up until now, occurred in old buildings and site specific locations.
And I must say, I have been beyond inspired. I have begun to learn a lot about what resonates for me onstage and how I see what I see when I see it. It's been a process of trust; trusting that the skills I have in devising a work transfer across into a linear piece. And it's also been about recognising how I work with space and sound to create images.
And most importantly it's been about how to tell the story of the piece in beautiful, layered, ambitious and meaningful, honest ways. What a learning curve!
If anyone is actually reading this and in NYC over NYC fringe, please come and see the work. Its going to be a very powerful piece and we are all very, very proud of it.
Check out some of our rehearsal shots so far...
Back in October, I was invited as a visiting artist to speak about my work as part of the Spectral Traces Symposium held at Virgina Tech in the US. This is a documentary made by some of the students in the art school. They interviewed all of the participating artists. I think I come in around the 20min mark!
Just went to see one of the most extraordinary pieces of theatre yet. Raoul was liberating, profound, beautiful and inspiring. I cried almost four times, stood up and shrieked at the end and found myself utterly moved and not wanting to leave my seat when the lights came back on.
This is why I create theatre. This man and his world that he created onstage is why I make the work I do. It connected on such a visceral level with the audience. Every element onstage was alive. Every prop, puppet, lighting state, lighting spot, sound, movement, the scrim, the ladder, even the backstage hands who came on at one point within the work, were there FOR a REASON. And it made complete sense even without words, without dialogue, without the need for any linear narrative whatsoever.
Just encountered Sascha Walt's choreographic dance theatre for the first time. An amazing surreal journey into a place that is both deeply uncomfortable but utterly absorbing. This two hour ride takes you through three different theatrical landscapes where dancers literally reconfigure the architecture in front of you. An immersive experience, which would be better suited to a space where the audience wasn't watching a proscenium arch theatre. But if it has to be done, BAM is your venue!
Being a part of the sound-scape, the smells of fire, the actual fire that had to be put out onstage, the floorboard being ripped up in front of you, dancers walking around with sticks inside their clothes and a cacophony of images, which put together began to make you feel like you were witnessing both Armageddon and some beautiful transformative moment, was such a treat.
It's not easy work to digest. And it's definitely not everyone's taste. But it reminds me of the visceral masterpieces of Castelluci and other prolific image makers who fearlessly give a public something less literal, less easy and less obvious. Amazing. So glad I went tonight.
raucous, mad, alive
a dance of water, fire, earth & wind
a mad, crazy, ecstatic celebration of joy
and its lows
earth, our connection, fascination, obsession
our interconnectedness with water, who we are, how we became, where we come from
of being child-like. of feeling. of jumping, falling, sliding, attracting, connecting, disconnecting, displacing, placing, framing, standing, falling, gliding, swimming.
of moments of stillness.
of being inside one loud bang and joyously shouting along with it.
of being alive. and living to the extreme.
of taking risks, onstage and in life. to not be afraid to make 'sense' all the time. to allow for disconnects and be comfortable with placing images out there without explanation. to trust that an audience can deduce what they will from the experience.
to feel excited by seeing BAM filled with adventurous audience willing to clap and stand for work that doesn't spell everything out! To spectacle done well and with heart.
And for choosing difference!
The AMAZINGLY inspiring Laurie Anderson - BAM
post show scribbles
"invisible on the couch except for a spotlight - the frame of her head floating on an object of light and motion
moments of stillness - angels and dandelions on a field with a lone violen. Beauty in simplicity -in wonder - in a search for detail amidst the undergrowth.
life, death, poignancy, innovation and experimentation
fearlessness to try something new
and an audience!"
And then Laurie came to our class!
excerpts from my debrief
fiery, open, attentive, energetic, slightly mad and enthusiastic, at times cautious with one lines that hold extreme power in their resonance. she took the time to ask everyone who they were and what they wanted to know. Immediately this set the tone for what she wanted the class time to be, a conversation. I appreciated the roundabout way she approached answering people's thoughts. It struck me as a similar way she approaches her work - without having the same sense of borders, allowing each thought, emotion, state to shift imperceptibly to the next.
Laurie spoke about the differences in how music, sight and text operate in terms of an audience response in her work. I was interested in the way she mentioned music as being a physical response. I find that images and ideas for performances often start (for me) after listening to music or playing music. It seems an obvious next step to begin thinking how I might depict the mood, feeling or progression both physically and spatially.
Her statement therefore makes complete sense.
But I found her comment on how text has the capacity to connect bodily, mentally and emotionally very interesting. I think writers forget how physical the act of speaking can be. When I write I find myself in rhythms that are very cognizant of breath. Taking in a breath, pausing, thinking, or running with a thought till there is no end to the sentence but one can only keep going until it finally stops.
Reading this out loud becomes an active step in figuring out the physical within the word. It's then really interesting when you start to think about how words combined with sound, being live music onstage or not, plus the use of visuals, such as when Laurie projects onto her various surfaces- how this then increases the potential for communicating within a piece. I guess the skill is being able to know when to allow each element to work on its own, support the other or sit in connection with the other. While I'm here, I want to build upon the visual worlds I create by exploring the use of text within it. I want my words to find meaning in relation to the imagery, the music, the space and the characters onstage.
notes from the city of stairs
I'm currently studying towards a MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) in play writing at Columbia in New York City. This page is for me to collect my thoughts, scribbles, images, ideas and inspirations over the next three years. Enjoy the rambling :-)