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.