Sunday, January 25, 2009

"There's thoughts in my head/like brass in my head/When I start to speak/it all disappears..."

I keep meaning to blog, and then I don't. Trying to engage in normal life more fully, as well as keeping a personal journal, as well as keeping an art school journal, as well as keep up this blog is...difficult.

My group hit a major snafu regarding our research project this week. We came to the sudden realization that there is no way to actually document the rhythm of a space scientifically (unless we had some mad equipment we don't know exists/don't have access to), and came to wonder if that was really necessary to have proper research. This idea in science of measurement is to have a scale to compare your results to--a control group or location, if you will. Makes sense. But what room has a neutral rhythm, and by whose definition? We lost heart for a bit, and decided to spend our time together on Thursday running small workshops for each other. We were each meant to bring in an exercise that would incorporate something we were interested in, in terms of our subject. Ronan had us cross the space a few times, creating a physicalized crescendo and decrescendo. Next, he had Lisa draw a line on a chart that rose and fell, followed by a physicalization of that. Then he had James play impromptu piano as inspired by the chart, and the rest of us (Ronan, Lisa, Maria, and myself) each wrote according to the tempo we heard in the music. I turned this out:

Slow December waltz, at home with Henry. Everything in order and children in bed--oh but Jeffrey's forgotten his teddy bear. Never mind it, he'll get it tomorrow, no doubt. And where did I put that--my knitting, I know, I know it was here somewhere, somewhere, I pricked my hand the other day, with my broach and stained my best day coat. Could it have meant something? Surely not. I'm just being silly. How foolish I was to cry over that. Just a little blood. Just a pin prick. It will come out in the wash. Just like a little girl, like a silly little girl, Rosie the other day over her bear and her milk all over her dress, silly girl, and the wailing the wailing, I never wanted to be a mother, I hate my children and I hate myself for hating my children but such a nuisance. Always under foot.

James had been playing something in 3/4, hence the waltz reference and subsequent Victorian/Edwardian dialogue. Also: I'm certain I have a woman of that era living inside me, somewhere, so I'm sure that has something to do with it...

For my part, I ran a short and somewhat bastardized Shakespeare workshop (I skipped over scansion completely--I am ashamed), trying to emphasize the rhythm found in his text by accessing the aural signifiers as well as the punctuation. It succeeded for the most part, which made me happy, but I don't know how much of that work has anything to do with our topic. This brings up a small problem that has me again revisiting the idea of not wanting to research anything, but rather just wanting to do something. Today it's Shakespeare, tomorrow it'll be aerial silks--I'm fickle like that. (Oh, and how I dream of aerial silks...) Then Lisa had us try to incorporate some of the Shakespeare work into a piece of modern text--namely from Sarah Kane's Crave, ala a workshop Martin Wylde, head of the MA Classical Acting program led a couple weeks ago.

After the mini-workshops, we met with company members of Present Attempt, Velna and Alex, both working at Central currently and having small experience in producing work from a place similar to our research topic. They assured us it would be all right to work from research that wasn't completely scientific in nature, since trying to replicate anything on stage essentially fails from the get go--you have to re-think what you're replicating just to have it come off theatrical, so why worry so much? It was nice to have this support, but I'm still trying to re-engage with this topic. Outside of my fascination with rhythmic texts, I don't really know where to go with this one, and certainly not in a group setting. As always: we shall see.

Friday was the second week of "The Space (in) Between." Classmate Mauro and I met beforehand to discuss what we were actually doing, what the purpose of The Space was, and what kind of weekly assignment/stimulus we'd be doling out. As suggested by Ronan, we continued on with the structure of providing restrictions and provocations, modeled off of the Toby Jones lab week. I also personally liken this to an aspect of Moment Work, but let's not lose ourselves in a realm of theatrical jibber-jabber for the moment, all right? Mauro had the idea that we would weekly offer five sentences to the group to create work for the following week. As the course goes on, more and more work seems to be piling up, and I am worried about The Space's success hinging on people's time to consider these mini assignments. But hopefully, if nothing else, The Space will provide an allocated time for people to try out their ideas, research related or otherwise, and will prove a comfort in that it will always be there. And of course, because it seems to be the only way I deal with anything these days, I created a blog for the function. If you want to know more about what we do and why we do it, just check it out here.

My last encounter with the London International Mime Festival is today. I'm seeing Familie Floez's Hotel Paradiso this evening, and I'm quite excited. I'm hoping it will be as great as the last show I saw at Southbank, also part of the Mime Fest's offerings, Tomas Kubinek. This man was simply amazing: funny, specific, engaging, musically talented (it must be said: I love a ukulele), and just sheer joy. So much joy, that I found myself crying at the end I was so happy. These tears varied greatly from those cried during a very mediocre circus show I'd had to sit through two days prior in the very space, called Circus Klezmer. I won't get into the reason for those tears (let's just say I have a very personal relationship with circus), but I will get into the mediocrity. The thing I hate about circus that tries to apply a narrative is how often that narrative is just there as filler. If you're composing a circus piece with a narrative or theme, I think you have two options:
  1. You just let the acts be linked by a common idea, and don't try to add too much story wise;
  2. You allow the acts to help promote and advance the narrative, like what makes a musical a musical, and not just a show with music and dancing and lights.
Or you can just do a show full of acts and antics--that's fine too, and is a big part of what makes circus circus. But these lack luster attempts at making a story are just awful: "Here's a scene, and now suddenly as if out of no where, an aerial silk act! And now another scene, that in no way refers back to that last act whatsoever!" And so forth and so on. And quite frankly: the show wasn't that funny. They company members did "funny" things, but it just wasn't funny. People laughed at antics, not at what was REALLY happening on stage. Most audiences can be bought through desperation, it seems. I grow more and more suspicious of this as time goes by. God, I kept hoping there'd be an intermission so I could leave. Luckily, it was only seventy minutes. Seventy minutes I'll never get back...

Yesterday I also saw The Kid for the first time, the last offering of the Early Chaplin Program at BFI. And thus ends the first, pretty full couple weeks back. I don't expect too much activity in the next few days as far as outings. Despite the incredible drop in the exchange rate (Britain has FINALLY entered the recession, whoo hoo!), I need to give my wallet a rest (I have entered my own recession) and try to re-engage a little more with school work (yuck).

It's raining, which reminds me I'm supposed to be reading King Lear today. Wish me luck! w00t!

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