Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stolen from Africa, India, America and brought to Italia...

The zoo in Pistoia was very old and very sad.... the two elephants kept in a space about 5m by 12m were quietly resigned... the Jaguar continually pacing up and down looked totally tormented... so did the Bear... the lonely or perhaps bored Tiger was wondering around... the Giraffes were often agitated, and compulsively licking the metal fence... the Rhino just stood there and every now and then rubbed his horn on something metal, changing its shape in a desperate cry for help... the one Zebra, a herd animal, alone in the smallest of enclosures, running along the fence visibly going insane... the Sea lion just kept swimming around and around and around by himself. I know these are all projections... but it was tragic. Viewing the world how it is - and not how you would like it to be. The goats were very happy. At least. Yay. And very funny. As were the peacocks who marched around freely, and often with their tail feathers fanned out skwaaking the odds...

Our assignment was to study the animals for movement purposes. Starting with the state of the animal... the animals vibration which comes from their stillness and their articulation... animals are always in movement sentences. When they stop they are ready to go. When they go they are ready to stop.

From there, studying and imitating their extremities and finding ways to transpose these for the stage... ears, tongues, whiskers, tails, hoofs, arms, legs, hands... How they each touch the floor... An Elephant is so light for being so very dense. The mouth movements... Giraffe's for example are extremely animated and expressive.

Finally their side and or vertical undulation when moving... and their relationship to the ground... which often shows who is the hunter and who is the hunted. The Jaguar is energetically much closer to the ground than a Goat... and the Jaguar is going to win!

I spent most of my time with the Giraffes and the Indian Elephants... they made me think of Botswana, where I grew up... and where I spent countless days and nights in the bush... seeing Giraffe elegantly pluck leaves from the tallest trees, and turn to look at you, the stranger in the Landrover, pause, and then continue unquestioningly chewing and blinking... I cannot count the number of times I have seen a massive herd of Elephants cross the road and then immediately and silently disappear into the bush as if they were never there... Or gigantic herds of Zebra and Wildebeest migrating across planes kicking up mountains of dust and causing the earth to rumble. Just normal. But it's not just normal... That wild animals live totally in the wild.

The grace and elegance of the Giraffes and Elephants, even besides being in criminally too small enclosures, put a lump in my throat. I of course focused on these two to transpose for the stage. However in that weeks creation I ended up playing a Chicken! Which was fun. A lot of fun. Chickens are crazy. So yes, a Chicken that checks into a hotel run by two carnivores. Mmm.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's never too late to change your childhood...

Onward from colour and deeper into the wide open world of The Abstract... where anything can happen. My favourite place. Mmm. This is connected in some way to the fact that theatre - all art - is somehow much much bigger than you. The story itself has it's own vibration in the space which is far greater than if it were simply your story, that you were improvising, you... the person in rehearsal room wondering what the hell to do next. And then if you have really connected with this sense of 'play' the story starts to write itself. Abstraction is a key into this... the driving force of a character. So yes... from colour and into music rhythm rhyme and words...

The onomatopoeic quality of words in different languages - that on the surface of it you don't understand - is astounding. There is a part of you that does actually understand. We moved poetry by Finish, Danish, Slovene and German poets... through movement provoked by the poems we touched the sentiment of the words, we then had to say what we thought the poem was about... with astonishing results.

With Norman Taylor movement master... amazing man... we had another 4 day intensive workshop... we started off with the mime movement of the weight lifter and it was all rather straight forward. Mime technique 101. So you too can pretend to be like those scary athletes that just about pick up the weight of their houses and rise it above their heads... like those women who look, well, a bit weird really. Of course it was not this simple. Norman divided the sequence into three parts... a beginning middle and end...

We then had to think of a moment in our lives, an event, that had this structure. And then, of course, we had to move it. Only we knew what we were doing - there was no dialogue - wonderfully bizarre. Modern dance gone a bit wrong. In pairs we then performed for our partners who wrote the poem of our abstract movements... totally off the wall.

The wonderful Freya did her movement piece for me and the poetry simply pored out... in what Norman best described as rhythmical and lyrical... the verse of a song... in a heart-wrenching melodrama! I moved for Freya and she put pen to paper in what came out as sparse surrealist poetic genius! I'd publish them here... but I won't. Even though they were brilliant... with far reaching emotional depth!

That weekend we went to Pisa to see the Miro exhibition and passed this wall... by a lesser artist perhaps... or perhaps not... but none the less...

"It's never too late to change your childhood." I liked that.

From poetry and text to a nose dive into music. Where once again Norman started off with mime sequence of climbing up and jumping off a wall and then putting that into the very strict 59 step chase sequence. But soon enough that turned into the most fantastic piece of choreography set to music... with different tempo's, off beats, slow motion, double time, reverse action, repetition... the studio was instantly turned into a unusual dance hall with a host of newly inaugurated movers improvising the 59 steps together. One moment we were laughing and the next moved to tears. The theatrical space is indeed much bigger... even in a heated studio, smelly with sweat of hard work and exposed with bright light. My favourite was Dire Straits... 'we've got to move these refrigerators, we've got to move these coloured TV's...' It reminded me of my childhood. Long trips across South Africa from Botswana to Cape Town. The seaside. Even though this was a funny sequence I got a little lump in my throat.

Pisa was wonderful... we started the day with the amazing Miro Exhibition and then we were shown around by Julia who lives in Pisa... and she told us fascinating things... like this one. The Joan Miro exhibition is in Palazzo Blu. The fact that it is blue is very important as no other building in the whole of Pisa is anything but orange - terracotta - yellow - that's it really. So yes this building was painted blue by a very important man who temporarily changed the rules so that he could impress his mistress... what a romantic guy. You have to admire the Italians.

Another man, a very long time ago, was locked up in this building... one of the small windows at the top. A wealthy man. Tragically he was locked up with his kids. Not sure why. And the man in due course ate his kids. Lovely.

Then she took us to this divine authentic little restaurant where we ate traditional - vegetarian! - delicacies. And touched up our lipstick.

Compulsory cheese when visiting Pisa.

Freya - being Freya x

Exciting work. Exhilarating day out.