Monday, 15 September 2008

Reflection / Feedback

Hi Efro,

Here are now some of my thoughts about the residency and my personal experience during the three weeks.

First of all what was nice to notice, was the welcoming atmosphere of the whole group, considering that some of the people have been in the company before and worked together previously. From the very beginning, there was no hierarchy in the group and after couple of days of getting together we started forming a very democratic way of working.

From early on, one thing that I had to keep on reminding myself was that I need to stand behind my own individuality, which in the end produced the best results. This came up in one of our conversations too, and it was something I just had to keep on my mind. Maybe it was something to do also with the fact that this was my first professional engagement with this company and in such cases I usually take note too much of how other people tend to work.

The individuality issue also came up when working in smaller groups. This allowed for closer connections between people and it also resulted in different ways of working within the different groups. This issue emerged again in the last week when we were setting the structure, when each one of us started automatically knowing a bit more what kind of response we would get from different people.

One aspect, which was new and beneficial for me, was the use of voice and text. I was a bit shy on the mic in the first week, but after getting used to it, it became relatively quickly a new tool to use and improvise with. Here I still think that the text from the scripts was essential for me, because just trying to improvise with no material felt a bit too clunky for me. Maybe an exception to this was the final interviewing scene, but this came up last, so I was already more used to using language in improvisation by that time. So, there the improvisation did not feel too awkward, but quickly, in that scene too, there started to be certain reference points to play with during the performance.

The actual structure and the playing with it “grew” quite steadily I think. In the first week, many of the try-outs were a total chaos and it was hard to push things any further, because there was not enough common understanding amongst the group of what we are doing. When we started to play with it more, the whole thing became much clearer. This enabled, at least myself, to be more decisive when “onstage” and to respond quicker to the impulses. It was also beneficial when we placed only one person onstage and worked on the material as a solo. It helped to create more unified performances and to move from one motif to another more smoothly (was this ever a goal you wanted?).

The actual performance raised a bunch of questions, some of which were also addresses after the show in discussions anyway.

First of all, does the audience need to recognize/make the right connection with a scene from a movie? Is that important or would it become too flat after a while if it was only about that? If the connection needs to be made more clear for the audience, how could we make the realisation process/unrevealing interesting every time and still keep it accessible?

Another thing was the attempt to keep the performance fresh. We tended to fall into some familiar patterns during the last week when running the piece, but in the performance we moved to a bit of a more alien territory. How can we still make sure that the structure works? The material could feel familiar to us, or we could feel that we have already done this, but the audience has not seen it before. So, the question is how not to fall into reproduction of a “safe” pattern, but still be on top of it…

In general, I think we made a huge progress in three weeks. I feel that I found my place in the group (as did everybody else) and this was hugely beneficial and productive for the end result. The thematic of the piece intrigues me and in the future I think one thing to take into consideration more is how else to approach the source material (films). Certain ways were explored already, like: exact copying, taking certain elements and bits of text... These were good approaches, but maybe they can be even more clarified and hopefully lead us to create more material? With time, of course, the approaches we used already could also be taken further (for example, the exact physical copying).

So here were some thoughts. I did not write anything about the format of the residency, mainly because I did not have much critique about it. I’ll write more if/when things come to my mind!

All the best,
Jarkko x


Monday, 8 September 2008

Individuality within the group situation

The reason for me why groups can be so strong is that not everyone needs to be good in everything or able to do (dare) everything.

The openness within the group as well as its diversity matched really well I think with the cross training method. That way of training helped me to be open for new experiences every day, in training but also towards the others. It taught me how to accept the differences in skills and knowledge of us performers. And I realised as well that each person needed a ‘special’ situation/atmosphere/feeling to show his/her strength.

The focus on individuality + group started to fascinate me and allowed me to stay true to myself, but also be open to learn from others. It definitely helped me to trust myself more and made me realise how important it was that each one of us had strengths and weaknesses. And, that there was nothing wrong with that, but only accepting that fact would make me a good performer. Patience then (towards others and myself) was a skill I developed further.

Group as I understand it now is a shifting situation where everyone finds a certain place but can also break out from it.

The group situation became a safe place for me in the sense that I knew that whatever I did differently in a performance we would find a way out of it. That I felt so safe was something I realised in Panos’ class, when we were running as fast as we could (eyes closed) towards the group. It surprised me how I could just go for it without doubting whether I would get caught/saved. The group became a very strong element as through our range of skills the possibilities of how to work became enormous. Working in smaller groups brought up the different approaches being used and therefore allowed me to try out things in new and unfamiliar ways.

The 3 weeks definitely offered us space to find ways of honestly presenting ourselves in front of the audience. For example, the Quizoola! made me realise that I did not need to cover my real self with some kind of spectacular story or lie, but that I could be honest, say things as they were, and be confident that no one would judge me for that.

So, then, in improvised sections of the piece, the thought ‘why are you not doing this?’ came up less and less. Either I just did something, or I just accepted that I was not involved. As an MC I tried to ask questions that somehow made sense and stopped worrying about being ‘inventive’. Of course every day was different, and sometimes I handled those kind of situations better than other times…


Saturday, 6 September 2008

The ‘hmhowamigonnasurpriseyouthistime’ rule

First thing that comes to my mind is the fact of working in isolation. I mean getting away from ‘normal life’, whatever or wherever that is, and focusing as a group on a project in a specific space and given time. That breakaway I find enriching as far as I’m concerned, thanks to that added taste of adventure it gives. In general, I suppose it can be considered a double-edged sword, depending on the group chemistry. In any case, it is something I enjoyed. And more generally, perhaps it can contribute to breaking our personal patterns/habits, which - if I’m not mistaken - was one of the commonest individual goals expressed (in many different ways) on our first day of work.

One of the most challenging things for me has been to work in a moving piece. The decision to fix the structural framework of the piece and only that feels much more exciting than a ‘fixed’ show. It gives us the opportunity to allow things to happen in the space; and on the other hand that means that things will happen in the space only if we really let them. Any kind of repetition or recalling of a relation/feeling/discovery cannot have neither the freshness of the first time or the scenic maturity of a well-rehearsed piece. So there is no in between. In between situations where I tried to drag past rehearsal experience in new ones and repeat anything in any way simply didn’t work for me. The material kept its freshness by being slightly altered, when nourished by what was happening in the space. And, of course, every ‘past experience’ is there to add to the group’s own layers of communication and complicity, maybe something like another, unwritten this time, rule - the ‘hmhowamigonnasurpriseyouthistime’ rule.

Some questions I have been asking myself:

The first question for me is that of transposition of one art form onto another, from cinema to scenic art. If we put apart the tool of the microphone, what is left that we can call cinematographic? How can we give that quality without its most powerful tools of camera focus, music, and of course editing? Also, as far as the performer is concerned, the stage invites us to make things ‘bigger’ than in real life, and cinema smaller. Is exact imitation the best way to be truthful to a scene or a film when we put it on stage? Or shall we systematically, as we often did instinctively perhaps, try to work out ways of adapting for the stage, so as to be faithful not to the form but to the spirit of the film. But then, would that be cinematographic? Is it possible to be scenematographic? :-p

The second question that occurred to me was that of narrative. What is left to the person who does not follow, or play the game with us? What is there to see? It seems that the parallel story would be that of the performers, being in and out of a part, being in between characters and self, their journey anyhow. I loved it when in the midst of a show-time vladavoum action moment, someone was left alone making a personal confession to the audience or to no-one. As if all this was in fact the set for our big struggle for expression as artists, through games, characters, or directly through us... Anyway, trying to imagine myself on the other side, I believe I would find some satisfaction in observing some kind of consistency in the personal journeys of the performers, and the relations they do or do not build.


Friday, 15 August 2008

The Wild Track

Hi Efrosini

As an added comment you might like to look at the notion of foley - the adding of sound effects to films in the studio in relation to the beginning section. The Wild Track is also of interest. I like this idea of cameras not rolling or extra takes in relation to the movement work. This might even influence your thinking about how and where to add the soundtrack material and the place the audio has in the piece.

All best


PS This is taken from Wikipedia - there is something nice about the lo-fi (cheapie) state of the recording which ties in with the aesthetic:

Wild track, also known as wild sound and wild lines, is an audio recording intended to be synchronized with film or video but recorded separately. Generally, the term "wild track" refers to sound recorded on location, such as sound effects gathered when the cameras were not rolling or extra takes of lines performed for audio only.

Reasons to record wild track:

* When only the sound is needed, not the image; for example, recording a scream that will be heard off-camera.
* When it is impossible to get good sound and video in the same take; for example, when actors are in a situation (such as the middle of a field in wide shot) that makes boom recording impractical and no wireless mics are available.
* When a take was good visually but there was a sound disturbance, and repeating the entire take is impractical.
* To obtain room tone (the background noise of a location) which is necessary for post-production sound editing.

Note that the wild track is considered something of a "cheapie" solution to these problems, and a big-budget production is more likely to use studio-recorded sound in these situations, as its quality is more controllable and predictable than wild track.


Is there life after Quizoola!?

Why do we always want to understand everything?
Are rules essential to your life?
Do we need order?

Do we need to understand something in order to enjoy it?
Do rules make something beautiful?
Why do people break rules?
What would a performance without rules be like?
Can we make sense without order?
Why do people get frustrated when they don’t understand the rules?
What happens in our head when there are no rules?

Do you identify with your role?
Do you always get the same role?
Does your role change within a performance?

What is your attitude towards the audience?
What would you feel if you were watching the work?
What does the work make you think of?
Do you depend on the audience’s reactions?
How has your role within the group changed?
Do you perform more for yourself or more for the audience?

What is your favourite scene?
Who had the craziest costume?
What was the moment?
Which reaction was the greatest?
Which trailer took your breath away?
Whose poses were amazing?

Which headstand moment was the most spiritual?
What is the question?

Did you change through this experience?
What did you learn?
Did you get rid of any prejudices?
How do you see yourself now?
Are you now a better 'dancer'?
Did you finally manage to walk on your hands?
Will you be a yogi at some point?

Is the order of “apple, orange, lemon, pineapple..” right?
Do it to…?
I met someone in New York. Who was it?
“Prepare to die.” What happened before that?
“I will follow him”. But why?
Where is the “euro-trash and Armani kind of bastard” from?

What were your names in the last scene?
Are you a natural poser?
Who was your favourite reporter?
What was the last question you asked?
What was the most difficult question you were asked?

How would you react to “who is the captain”?
What was the question asked most frequently?
How many times were you the MC?
How many “runs” did you do in the show?

How did you feel after the show?
Name 3 responses you heard in the discussion.
What did those 3 responses make you think of?

Who did you talk to after the discussion?
What did the first person you approached say?


10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Your favourite phrase?

Is there any 'going-wrong'?


Sunday, 27 July 2008

Questions for Efrosini - PART I

1. You say you are working with the idea of invitations – do they necessarily have to be accepted? – what is the potential for performers ‘to pass’?

My immediate response would be that invitations necessarily have to be accepted, because otherwise they just disappear… it’s like they never happened. But then, that doesn’t necessarily mean answering a question. ‘To pass’ should also be possible. Maybe ‘to pass’ is a different kind of response to an invitation… It certainly expresses an attitude or feeling towards the invitation, and so the performer who chooses ‘to pass’ is responding to the question in a way… or maybe what they are really doing is commenting on the question that has been addressed to them. We then accept this as a response to an invitation.

Somebody asks Hester which Hollywood male actor she finds most attractive…

HE: Pass.

They keep looking at her, waiting for a name…

HE: Pass. Pass. Next question please.

2. You requested at the beginning for the performers to ‘allow things to sit’ – where is the sitting now? do you feel there is enough / too much ‘sitting’?

There never seems to be enough sitting. As if when we play a game we always want to keep doing stuff.

On Thurs 31st July we allow space and time for seven separate solos and we discover that the space can be held with much less. Once you allow something ‘to sit’ in the space and the more time you give it, the more it transforms into all kinds of possibilities for the audience…

In her solo, Susanne re-enacts a scene from “Ratatouille”, then another one from “The Name of the Rose”. Questions keep being asked, but she sticks to her material. The more the same material goes on, the more it transforms depending on the question that it [the material] appears to respond to.

3. What is the relationship between representation, pastiche and parody?

Giorgos and Panos are working on scenes from “Gone with the Wind”, “Dangerous Liaisons” and “The Piano”. We call these ‘the love betrayal scenes’. This is definitely a deliberate imitation, re-enactment, re-presentation. However, dialogues and actions extracted from their context can seem quite ridiculous. Is it impossible to avoid parody? An interest emerges in exploring whether we could do something different with the material, i.e. find a way to re-enact material from film scenes that won’t turn it into a parody, but will perhaps reveal something about what’s really going on in that scene – something like a sub-text perhaps?

A different kind of performativity emerges at this stage. I hear myself speaking about ‘really doing the material’, ‘not making fun of it’, ‘going inwards’, ‘not thinking about how this looks from the outside’…

Now it often looks tragic – really tragic, not funny-tragic. The reference to cinema is still there, but now it’s more about love betrayals than about particular films or scenes. Now, I almost ‘believe’ them. There is a shift that happens in the performers when they take something ‘for real’… as if they now have a different relationship to the material, as if they want to say something through it… something of their own, that is.

“Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar mask, speech in a dead language; but it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody’s ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse” (from “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism”, by Fredric Jameson, in New Left Review, 146, pages 53-64).

“It should be remembered that cultural Marxism and Frankfurt School critical theory tend to collapse all art forms into ‘art’ as a generic entity. Theodor W. Adorno’s Theory of Aesthetics, for instance, brilliantly attests to philosophy’s neglect of medium difference, the specific materiality and structurality that shape each art form’s identity. This blindspot has traditionally been a privilege of philosophical aesthetics devoted to coneptualizing the enterprise of art in most general terms that annual all formal difference, for instance between literature and the plastic arts” (from Pastiche: Cultural Memory in Art, Film, Literature, by Ingeborg Hoesterey, page x).

Two new questions emerge then in relation to our task:

* What is the purpose, or ‘ulterior motive’ of our imitations?
* In transferring acts and words from the cinema screen and into the performance space, is avoiding parody an impossible task?

4. What is the intention of the text?

Possible ways in which the text works:

* as a trigger for response / reaction
* as a response triggered by action
* as a sound-scape for action

The intention of a text which takes the form of a list of questions seems to lie in what it does to the person being questioned… but also in what it makes the questioning person appear like…

On Weds 30th July we play a Q&A game inspired by Forced Entertainment’s Quizoola! for six hours in the evening… Some of us have done this before, but Susanna, Elena and I notice that this time everyone has been responding much more honestly (or, so it seems), without trying to construct a fictional answer that might sound true. Hester and Giorgos ask what the purpose of this was for us as performers. I think it’s this: to remind us that there is also the possibility of answering with the truth in performance. Will anyone know the difference anyway?

When it’s a quiz on cinema, I imagine the audience member-listener probably playing the game in their mind, coming up with an answer and then waiting to see if that’s the answer the performer will give too.

If it’s a more open-ended question though, I imagine the audience member-listener also becoming curious about how the performer who has been addressed will interpret the question in the first place. And then, the possible responses one might expect also multiply.

1st case:

GI: Susanna, how long is Barbra Streisand’s nose?

SU: 8 inches long.

2nd case:

GI: Susanna, how long is Barbra Streisand’s nose?

SU: (she lifts the microphone and places it in front of her nose).

3rd case:

GI: Susanna, how long is it?

SU: (in a high-pitched voice, coming from the nose…) We have vinegar, vinegar and oil, plain oil, thousand island, hundred island, Hawaiian island, three miles island, Russian, German, Swiss, mayo, Rockford, blue cheese, brown cheese, cheese, cheese and bacon, bacon bits, bacon chips.

5. What is the intention of the microphone?

“A Master or Mistress of Ceremonies or MC (sometimes spelled emcee), sometimes called a compère or an MJ for ‘microphone jockey’, is the host of an official public or private staged event or other performance. The MC usually presents performers, speaks to the audience, and generally keeps the event moving. The MC sometimes also acts as the protocol officer during an official state function” (from Wikipedia:

The person asking questions on the microphone seems to have a certain power over the whole event. Eva says it’s like a voice coming from above or from outside. And then what is interesting is that the MC is not really the same person throughout the work. So, the interchange-ability between the roles of the MC and the respondent is maybe what creates play.

Then, when someone responds to a question by making a confession on the microphone, I feel what they’re saying becomes more secretive and mysterious.

Or is it just about the voice coming from the microphone sounding more sensual? Panos laughs when I say that using the microphone is kind of sexy.

Again, I remember Forced Entertainment passing the microphone around in the beginning of Bloody Mess, and then its strong presence as material in the rest of the show.

I would now like to play with the microphone being taken around to different places, but am still looking for a reason for that to happen.

6. What is the scope for silence?

I’m missing some more silence… This is what I probably meant by things being allowed ‘to sit’. A lot of guessing, thinking, doubting, imagining, anticipating and revealing happens in silence. How this happens is still curious to me...


6. What happens if you remove the questions / answers?

7. What happens if you disconnect the answer from the question or reverse the narrative?

NB You might want to look at Jeopardy – the game show I mentioned – where the answers come before the question.

8. Where do the words become a sound, a rhythm, a texture, a layer where the meaning of the words does not matter – e.g. "The Sound of Music?".

9. How can the re-enactments connect / disconnect with each other?

10. How much do you want the performer / audience to engage / disengage?

11. How much do you want to invite interruption / disruption into the process?

12. You are flirting with confusion and a promiscuous relationship with film. Where is the clarity? Sincerity? Authenticity? Does it lie in questions like: ‘The boat is leaving with your loved one – what would you do?’? Could your questions operate without mention of ‘film’? e.g. 'You are in a train in India, how do you order your food?', rather than 'What is your favourite eating scene in a movie?' e.g. 'Do you remember your first time?', rather than ‘What was the first time you went to the cinema?’. This gives you less to do and us more to do…