We completed the massive journey through the abstract... neutral mask, elements, materials, colours and poetry... to arrive at human characters. Yay. And human emotion. How exciting. And it was... albeit really weird in the beginning... mind bendingly brilliant.
We started with breath work, which when used in therapy is called re-birthing or regression therapy. However when used in a theatrical context brings about fantastic and totally surprising creative results. Connected breathing and movement takes one into a trance-like state where emotions swirl, and it is this that is channeled into performance... one could say that all performance, all creativity, is channeling emotional energy and that this is an extremely vivid visceral experience of that.
I'll try and explain it as best I can... Firstly we all stood around breathing together... and because I'm not the worlds most gung-ho 'let's all stand around and bare our emotions to each other' individual, I initially found it quite difficult. But soon enough it stopped feeling personal and the work began. So yes, there we were, doing a bit of heavy breathing connected to specific organic movement and ultimately sound... all with the gentle guidance of Pol and Imanou who are breath masters from France. So it's all legit and brilliant. Breathing is a doorway into the unconscious world... blinking and breathing are the only actions of the conscious and the unconscious mind... but blinking yourself into and altered state is not really as viable an option. So yes, breathing takes one to the door of the unconscious. Knock knock. Who's there? Hello emotion. And it's amazing. We breathed and connected what came up to the theatrical world of grotesque characters... meaning how far could you push a character, amplify an emotion, and remain believable - like the human craziness you see every day if you dare to look... for example, a mad man on the street who shouts and spits and has lost all sense of himself... or a wild woman of the night whose ego has no boundary... or a spoilt adult throwing a wild unreasonable tantrum to get what she wants... or a tyrannical man who needs to state his claim on being a man. Life in extreme forms. After the breath work, once we were open and on the precipice of the unconscious if you like, we played these extreme forms in a way that each performer somehow disappeared behind 'the mask' of their grotesque/extreme form... a kind of theatrical shape-shifting or shamanic-type performance. In the same way that we all have a clown we all have a grotesque form... and perhaps many. We gathered in an intimate circle in our studio each exposing a amplified wild character that lives within us. And we laughed until we cried and sometimes we cried until we laughed. But most of all we breathed for what in a fleeting moment felt like for the first time. And we grew expanding ourselves in every direction.
And this, while not so far away the rest of the world - Egypt, Lybia, Japan - is falling apart. Humans. Nature.
As Giovanni said we dare to be creative with the time we have... Who knows what happens tomorrow.
Nick came to visit me for a week in our break... It was completely wonderful we spent a day in Bologna, an amazing Gothic city, where we climbed a terrifyingly high, frightfully narrow tower whose only purpose, however many years ago, was as a show of wealth... Italian men, seriously.
The Neptune fountain in the main square in Bologna - the four mermaids around him sprouting water from their breasts represent the only four major rivers in the world known at that time.
Nick and his favorite indulgence... drinking coffee x
We spent a day in spectacular village, San Gimignano, where we wondered up and down the beautiful cobbled streets amongst a vast number of boastful towers pushing against a determined ice cold wind wishing that the sun was out and that we could sit on a little bench looking out on the rolling Tuscan hills and drink red wine and eat cheese. Instead we found ourselves in a cosy little coffee shop drinking delicious coffee and eating pastries.
For the rest of the time we were in Florence... The Duomo (beware the Christian God!), Santa Croche (where all the big guys - Dante, Michelangelo, Galileo - have their tombs), San Lorenzo, The Uffizi... oh and the Damien Hirst exhibition 'For the Love of God,' in Palazzo Vecchio. An exhibition of a single art piece, a diamond and platinum covered skull, a real human skull yes. It was wild. We walked up a short ramp lined with information about where the skull was brought, who it is believed to have been... and so on... at the top a serious looking security guard pulled aside a heavy black curtain and we entered into a tiny pitch black room with a single dim spot light hitting the jeweled skull in a brilliant spangle of refracted of light that honestly you have to see to believe how beautiful such a macabre thing can be.
Nick in Italy from Jenine Collocott on Vimeo.
We wondered around holding hands, eating alot, drinking more, talking about theatre and planning the future. Breath out. x