…reflections on In My Room
…there ain’t enough time…
…reflections on In My Room
…there ain’t enough time…
I had one very clear understanding about That Night-time Phenomenon, performed in December 2017 at Seven Arts, Leeds (I love that place). This very clear understanding was instant and realised during the performance – that (sometimes) reflection that occurs while performing can be distracting but useful for modifying action appropriately. This understanding became a certainty. This certainty is that it is not the best method for me to repeat a performance, unless it has significant changes that reignite my purpose. That Night-time Phenomenon had been very successful the first time it was performed, on repeating it I think had used up, dried up, all my incentives and purpose for the text and actions.
It was a very unsatisfying feeling to not have had the time to rework this piece with a new ‘fire’ (so to speak), and would I have been able to do that anyway? I was simply walking through the actions – how awful – the audience know this and its lack of authenticity is clear and not as engaging (though some friends disagree with me on this point). For me this lack of authenticity, it wrecks everything, and some people do this night after night? Perhaps its just me, but I am decided that I will not do this again. It was not as successful as the first showing but I have learned a valuable lesson. Was it Antonin Artaud who argued that performances should not be repeated – Artaud, I agree.
I don’t just enjoy performance, I love painting too.
Please check out the above pages Carrieanne Painter of the Abstract and Carrieanne Portrait Painter – I do commissions.
For me, the person playing Venus, I feed on the energy between myself and the audience. Wonderful evening. This performance was based on a scientific interpretation of the Star of Bethlehem, but feedback from spectators about what this performance was grappling with, what its messages were, were so varied. In my eyes, job done!
When an audience member approaches you and tells you that you are the next Victoria Wood, and then asks you for your autograph, that is a very proud moment indeed – and I don’t feel that often. Thanks Sacreu Bleu the Christmas cabaret night, and thanks Seven Arts Centre.
Text from That Night-time Phenomenon:
“They were astronomers, concerned with what was happening in their nights sky, asking ‘somebody’ [picks someone from audience] “where is the baby to be born king of the Jews?” “This is his star […] and so now we find ourselves here”. It’s a bright star. It’s a big event for them. It’s a joy. Well, If it’s a joy to witness it […] imagine what it is to create it […] that bright sight in the sky…
It was thought “this will happen again” – this rare event indeed – with whispers of “do you remember what it felt like?” that night time phenomenon? It’s August the 27th 2016, or it was […] it’s a dark nights sky and a close encounter is about to occur. They were just 4 arc minutes away from each other […] It’s 416 miles between them, but still […] what’s hundreds of miles when you’re in love?
But she moves so slowly, in a different way to her neighbours […] going backwards […] going around too slow. And he is almost twelve times bigger than she is […] he is formidable […] she has to be careful. Sometimes it’s a bit much to be honest […] but she moves.”
How could I not apply to perform at Manchester’s Victoria Baths for an evening in which all proposals were to look at the concept of The Fool. The evening proved it was an interesting topic to explore, the performances were varied and of a high standard. I always looked at The Fool as being a character of which I admired – for reasons that they seem like a lark, full of energy and not burdened by the serious aspects of life – people ask for a fool, fools have the attention of others.
I approached my contribution to this night by reading (not all of it – it’s a big book) Beatrice. K. Otto’s book Fools Are Everywhere and extracted key points and interesting accounts of fools to structure into a performance. This performance ultimately put forward the message that fools were of credible attributes. I delivered: some of Otto’s words verbatim (I realise now I should have asked for permission on this) and those she referenced, paraphrasing of Otto’s words, play from her words, and characterisation from her words. I tried to portray what a typical fool might appear like for the audience and I loved playing this role.
Leeds Art Gallery Improvisation
This was an incredible opportunity and I am proud of my bravery. I improvised (to a gallery audience) my way out of a short script which headed the show. This script was written from research (and conversation) based on stereotypes attached to gender, and it was wonderful to play with these ideas through improvisation.
I think I successfully: projected some very clear points about my own perspective on these issues – through satirical characterisation, projected some generic views and misconceptions, and posed some questions for spectator consideration. These ideas felt necessary, and the audience relaxed into the performance as I asked: “Do I look like a man to you?”, “Do I look like a woman to you?”, This is of course not a clear rhetoric – for there may have been a differing opinion on this and I encouraged this by performing ambiguous actions which present both, or neither, typically associated female and male traits. Lovely, thrilling day.
“Observe This Gait explores the fixing and objectifying of ‘gender’ that has seemingly occurred in the history of live performance
Historically it could be argued that theatre has, through indicative gestures and assigned gender traits, presented to audiences the idea of gendered qualities being common to/tied to a specific sex.
Through research and the embodying of theatrical techniques for portraying these assumed sex-specific gender traits, the performer will use these along with a scripted text which reinforces the notion, into an arena of critique which explores and plays using improvisation. The improvisation within this performance will bring elements of opposition, absurdity and unfamiliarity, challenging notions of performed gender and playfully exposing the unreality of them.
Through referencing theatrical conventions; using improvisation with physical and verbal script; setting and then blurring boundaries between masculine and feminine, body and voice, perceived and performed gender; this performance will take the audience on an abstract journey of their own witnessing of gender and also reflect the performers own feelings towards the issues surrounding ‘gender’ and ‘sex’.
On Saturday the 10th of January (2015) was a showing of the first showing of The Dancing Plague by The Ashes Dance Collective. It was platformed at Resolution in The Place theatre venue in London. This piece (as the title suggests) is based on the dancing plague of 1518. This recorded event was considered a type of plague because, like an epidemic, it spread through and affected many in a physically (and arguably psychologically) manner – in fact many died from it. Accounts of this dancing plague suggest a variety of causalities for this phenomena, of which the source seems to be financial or religious reasons. Here dance, which is ordinarily associated with positivity: personal expression, release, and alternated and useful states of consciousness became a symbol of hardship, pain, guilt and death. It is written that the dancing plague began with a woman named Frau Troffeau. Who, in an apparently inspired moment (of madness?), took to the streets and danced…and didn’t stop. People, and more people followed suit, they kept dancing regardless of physical and mental sacrifice. The spectacle of Frau Troffeau, to those that followed, was attractive, for reasons that seem implausible, but they were influenced to join her in constant movement that may have been a trance. Opinions are that Frau’s outbreak into constant dance movement may have been: a gesture to spite her husband (who didn’t like dancing), the result of a vengeful saint, a favour for (advertisement of) a saint, divine punishment, a mental break-down as a result of extreme poverty and/or suppression.
As previously mentioned, there must be a reason why improvisation has always been included in my work. It is certainly not a laziness for performance preparation – improvisation takes just as much preparation. I think this can be explained (if I can explain it) through the understanding that public performance pushes you into a place in which you are bringing out your performative best, presenting your sensibility for performing arts using the approach/work intended. Surely in this public place of ability, vulnerability and energy, improvisation (action that works with instinct as oppose to rehearsal) is now ‘silver-lined’ with these sensibilities: a search for, a grappling with emotion, a conscience for aesthetic qualities. Surely this results in moments of that unfamiliar self being un-earthered occasionally as more characteristically poignant – a refreshing point of interest. I have been told (and hope to be true) that some of these moments in my own work have been viewed as refreshing and meaningful for the spectator. I hope these moments have also been observed as being refreshing for the performer as they arise (that sense of sharing a moment)…However, now is the time – FINALLY – to move on from improvisation…
I last performed Cafe Repartee at Free For Arts at the Penthouse in Manchester (a great layout of conceptual and visual art work). This performance is partly script which leads into the improvisation. I was aware (before, through and after) that I didn’t give myself time to re-learn the script, to make the best of the words and actions – this vastly (of course) affected the performance – particularly the Ball and Heulsenbeck sections. During presentation I had the mindfulness of that fear that what I was delivering might not be what conceptual/visual artists would want to see, mainly because of the forced and shifting energy involved in my work/a moving body in a space.
I later understood that aside from ill preparation the work was affected by my not enjoying it, because I hadn’t done/used enough research in the last two of the three dadaists that featured in the script. Perhaps I also didn’t spent the required time embodying the men that fascinated me, though this was avoided as it seemed very anti-dada, regrettably I felt I failed to inflame the performance with the idea of their brilliance. Also the last two sections were not composed as interestingly as the first (it was commented, “the first was alot more powerful”). Perhaps I am just trying to involve too much in one performance – probably!
The grapheme element was a little better than the previous showing, the graphemes were used and slowly develop from sounds into actual words (from out of nowhere – unexpected). I understand now that having a script presented before the graphemes are spoken and improvised with doesn’t work in favour of the grapheme experiment. I use the script information as a reference point during improvising and the improvised section becomes more about the rearranging and playing with script rather than the idea of the graphemes being the instigator for new language – the sound leading to new words, implanting new image and taking these to a new place accompanied with new action – different from what had previously been seen
To do this again I would need an appropriate and willing venue which was specifically about sound, language, and the use of the body in this. Because it is (why didn’t I accept this before – perhaps I didn’t care) a difficult thing to do. The body and the voice has to be properly prepared for this, patience is key, and not the idea that performance always have to be entertaining – this is not the point here. It is about trying to present the idea of improvising from very little and improvising from sounds…improvising FORM… (an abstract idea) and an aesthetic idea. And how this can make new ideas lead to, perhaps, the poetical, the non-literal, the literal…whatever – it doesn’t matter because there is nothing set in place – it has to be a minimal and organic experiment! To do this again I need to view it differently, and I need the right, not necessarily but partially sympathetic space. I shall look and hope.
However, for now a NEW approach…I am researching and devising a short script which will be presented as a durational piece and will be concerned with the psychology of the comic Fool…more soon.
The performance A Hunch is a ‘’hunch back story for a tiny mouse’’. The shifting approaches of presenting autobiographical thoughts are connected only by the words ‘hunch’ ‘story’ ‘back’ and ‘mouse’ with a consistent drive throughout the piece for struggle and success. The text and actions presented, though autobiography, are derived from a series of improvisation sessions, so holds an element of misapprehension in the mind of the performer. The work was choreographed consideration Anthony Howells three primary colours of Performance: Stillness, Repetition and Inconsistency and moves between the abstract and the literal invoking narratives as oppose to narrative.
A Hunch was performed for the fourth time at Leeds Nexus festival (2014) after presenting it at two Leeds East Street Arts venues and at the University of Manchester, where I studied my MA. This performance was constructed from a series of improvisation workshops when researching the documenting of improvised action for my MA dissertation. I really enjoyed performing this work at both venues, it was a well received show.
Extract from the performance A Hunch:
“Continues with routine. Breaks to stand still in an image which shows the right hand referring to the left hand which masquerades as a book. Ahh…yes, that’s the line… isn’t that what you said? Drops image – stillness and searching.
Said directly to the audience with content. Not finding the mouse gave him a reason to read this book over and over, and over, and over, and over again,[illustrates with hand] illustrate this with hand. He describes it as a hunch back story for a tiny mouse. The villagers knew where the mouse was and he knew where the mouse was. The villagers didn’t tell him because then he would have to stop reading, and he didn’t want to stop reading. Pause – stillness. Do you remember?
He talks like a mouse [illustrate talking hand], he sniffs like a mouse, and he snores like a mouse. [Change role] Harold are you listening dear? Harold, are you listening? Now Harold, A, A, B…yes, that’s you Harold, what do you think Harold, mm, A, B? Switch roles which requires running into the room and squatting as though sat. Now you don’t do that do you Harold? C? Try C. Do you see Harold? Oh yes, you were a wonderful baby. A, B, try C, never? Well, I’d say so. Are you listening Harold? Oh, indeed I do. Do try Harold, never? Try dear…Never…Try…Never…you were a wonderful…Never…Try…Never… Try…Never…Try…Never…Try…Never (speech affects body and vice versa). Performer has now reached image which sees her hunched and on all fours
Did you know that crawling on the floor does wonders for the memory;[crawls across the floor] it actually increases the intelligence [previous struggle revisited on the following word] …really? Performer stand. I’ll leave you to go alone. No…Really…He felt isolated
Performer is in an image which sees her leaning to the side and knocking on an imagined door.
[With trepidation] Hello. Pause, turns and reassures an imagined friend. Hello, yes, I’m asking – I’m asking. Pause.
I switch roles which requires running into the room and squatting as though sat.
We’d like to come in please. We would like to…stand against the wall.
We’d like to stand against the wall. We know you have chairs there; anyway, waiting for more valuable people than ourselves…but if you could just let us in anyway? If you could say when that is? Any way!
I can’t say.
You can’t say what? You can’t say when you can let us in or you can’t say when you might make a decision when you can let us in?”
Watch a clip here:
Watch a clip:
The first presentation of Cafe Repartee was at Unity Day on Woodhouse Moor in Leeds, Unity has been good to me, I have now performed two solo’s and a collaboration at this days festival. All of these were a first showing with an encouraging and helpful audience. I’m always extremely nervous before performing, but even more so with this recent piece because I was attempting to improvise with material that was so unfamiliar to me – which had no emotional history or narrative to draw upon. I comforted myself that this is okay because now,rather than any post performance dissatisfaction coming from a judgement of the quality of my delivery or lack of audience appreciation, it now comes from knowing whether I have experimented to the extreme that I can. This is experimentation. This is a selfish thing. But, for me, the artist is expressing to develop on a personal plane, and to live as themselves – thanks to Willem De Kooning, Scott Walker, Don Van Vliet, Viv Stanshall and Phil Sanger (but a few) for reminding me. Phil said recently (on paraphrasing Dr Seus), ‘Just go right along, and here we are trying not to try’ – gorgeous. This sensation of moving through time effortlessly and with ego satisfied is also, I think, for the spectator – if the performer is enjoying it the audience are too. I am only ever put off watching performance work if those performing seem to want to be somewhere other than the circumstance they find themselves in. However, I like that people have different motivations for performing – for me, the word is experimentation, experimentation to find the new. And, I realize now always has been – otherwise why am I still not allowing myself to let go of the improvised act! Script can still be involved, and in my recent work is. Cafe Repartee began with a ten minute script which attempted to, in my own style, (briefly) convey the personalities and works of Walter Serner, Hugo Ball and Richard Heulsenbeck. Perhaps arrogant that I could assume to show the personalities of such extraordinary, changeable and unfixed persons in such a short time. The method for performance was to deliver the script once and then to repeat, beginning to feed in texts made up of graphemes which were contributed by audience members (a grapheme chart and instructions in the performance asked spectators to do so – if they wished). This element of the work was problematic – only a few (by my pre-performance request) contributed, so the same texts were used more than once as an instigation for improvisation. As I have said this was ultimate experimentation and I was not sure if something visually interesting could emerge from having a script broken up and finally overtaken by texts made up of only graphemes: texts such as ”sch sch sch oo oo eck eck kow ugh zz (short) chow ee”. But, what is wrong with just making sounds? words that don’t conjure a known image. This, although far from it, attempts to support Ball’s theory that abstract language is more useful because here representative image is more personalized, away from indoctrinated and damaging image attached to habituated language. But, also, because attempting this pushes me more to a place were I have to be less concerned with constantly satisfying and engaging the audience but instead to allow myself to get to that place of discovering the ‘new’ through patience and concentration. I am not successful yet in this. At my Unity day performance the improvised element, though it did occasionally involve graphemes (which had often changed from the initial reading to the incorporation into performance – I have a bad memory), took a route of improvisation drawing from my script. Duh, of course this would be the case! When improvising you go back to retrieve what is in your ready memory to play with, this was my script I had been rehearsing – not the graphemes. So, though the intentions, and purpose for selling this show, was that audience members would see their contributions being performed verbally and at a development through gesture and rhythm, this was only occasionally the case. I also, particularly when I performed this at the Beacons festival, repeated sounds that were not necessarily graphemes, because I felt they fit and were all that were readily available in my head, I even spoke lines from a past performance. But, this is part of improvising – you have to keep going, you have to keep moving through, whatever comes out, even if it may be dull, until you get to that place where ‘you are trying not to try’ (thanks Phil).
I was upset with myself following Beacons, here I was reminded how environment/ audience can affect your work, and actually I rely on their engagement and understanding of what I am doing, feeling a need to satisfy them as well as myself. And, I realize now most of those I idolize who have the courage to work with ‘difference’ do so in isolation while creating the work and then present it to the public for critique. I can’t do this. Most of the audience I believe were engaged for a sufficient time but (understandably) there is only so much investment you can put into observing a dramatic and repetitive work at 11am when you are a few days into a festival. I could quickly sense that this was not the environment for my work and I allowed this to affect my performing. I finished what was supposed to be a 45 minute piece in 30 minutes and walked out dissatisfied with having allowed myself to get overwhelmed by being to concerned with the external instead of believing in my philosophies and just using the space to play, despite what people may think! People don’t have to watch, but perhaps my nature of feeling discomfort by others discomfort was present. However, the dadaists could not have been concerned with others opinion, and welcomed a distaste and rebellion to their choices – increasing the potential for individual opinion/response. I have one more chance at this. I am performing at Free For Arts. I shall not sweeten the pill by putting a sign explaining that repetition and moments of struggle are part of the work, I shall just ‘be’ in the space, to not worry, to concentrate on the body, a balance between the task and expressing the mind as it wishes and people will hopefully enjoy my personal approach to performance work!