Monday, 29 August 2011

Main (and ongoing) challenges: week 1

The last blog post was getting a bit long, but of course I still have more to say! Here are some more thoughts about my main challenges this week, which were:

  • distillation: within the content of the piece, but also in terms of trying to find key focus points within the sheer volume of research that I have undertaken in preparing for this project since January 2010; I have been reassured by some of my observations of the work Jovair did with the dancers - if the body is prepared in the right way, the images it creates are connected to what you want to achieve without too much difficulty or forcing of the stimulus. I am certainly well-prepared for my rehearsals of Matters, so I have to trust that the work we produce is all connected, even if sometimes I find it hard to make the connection immediately.
  • rhythm: as described above, I have been giving detail about the comparative rhythms of different sections, but also focusing on the rhythm of particular movements
  • in reflecting about the week's work over the weekend, I've also had to challenge my previous understanding of the overall structure of Matters, asking myself again what the purpose of seeing the original scenario from Waterland from different perspectives might be, why we change the person who is unconscious, how we introduce this possibility to the audience so they have a better chance of understanding, or at least going along with what is happening. Or to put this another way, how do we signal that something about the logic of the performance world we are creating is changing, without also creating overwhelming (and therefore perhaps obstructive) confusion in the viewer. It seems that the key to this is to have a clearer trigger to acknowledge that we are now starting again (although maybe from a different perspective), at least in the earlier sections of the piece. This trigger could be a music cue, a lighting cue, the recognisable shape of the unconscious body when it is discovered, the particular pathways that those who discover the body take into the space, the spatial relationship between the unconscious body and one of the set-pieces, and probably many other things of which I'm not yet aware.
  • risk-taking: it is in my nature to want to understand everything that is happening at every point in time, because it is very important to me that the work I make connects with genuine human experience and the way in which we all see the world. However, I have to admit that this sense of understanding is very precarious at the moment, and consequently it feels like many things we try in rehearsal are shots in the dark. As I've said above, I know this isn't actually the case, as this piece has been in the making for a long time now, but the feeling of not knowing what is going to happen and sometimes not knowing what to do next when something unexpected does occur is still unsettling (and therefore exciting). When I was mentoring Alexa as part of the Made By YOU project preceding the start of our rehearsals for Matters, I felt very secure in what I know about how I work and why. That sense of security is disrupted by the vast scope of the source material for Matters, the number of collaborators involved and perhaps by my sense of responsibility to do the work and myself justice within this project. I am pleased that what I have taken on is so ambitious and I recognise that I will always feel unsettled at times throughout my working process: this encourages me to keep asking questions, and my sense of responsibility and ongoing desire to reflect means that I will always be making the best work that I can, in the best way.

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