Monthly Archives: November 2013

Sifting and Juxtaposing

To aid with devising a script to use for the live section of the soundscape, that shall become the crux of our performance, the group looked at Tim Etchells Certain Fragments: Texts and Writings on Performance.  This piece of literature became an inspiring stimulus for the group and from it; we have extricated ways in which to begin writing. The path which clearly became the route in which the group would travel was to use borrowed language, as Etchells describes his experience of “collecting, sifting and using bits of other people’s stuff – copied language like precious stones” (1999, p.101) the group looked at how to deliberately borrow language. We decided on a few books, works of fiction to begin with, mainly devoted to the theme of romance which juxtaposes the theme of our performance, and began “sifting” (Etchells, ,p.101) through the pages, stopping on a random number and picking out two words from the first sentence our eyes settled upon. We would repeat this action with multiple books until a sentence was formed. Sometimes these sentences were, on the surface, nonsensical. However, after experimentation with intonation of voice and expression, the group were able to make the sentences applicable to the performance, with an elite group of sentences making it into the final soundscape.

This method of writing compliments the experiment of juxtaposing the emotion of a word with the way in which it is said, by creating words and sentences which seemingly have a meaning to them but are, in fact, random combinations put together to subvert meaning and contradict emotion. Etchells describes how the difficulty we encounter when trying to create new writing might be due to the “inadequacy of language. It’s unsuitability for the job it has to do – it’s failure” (Etchells, 1999, p.102) this claim is, in essence, the point that we are exploring. If language is used with juxtaposing intonations and emotions to what it is used to being heard with, does the entire meaning flip and change? If this is the case, then language is failing, to some extent, to perform its job consistently. It is failing to have meaning, and cause meaning. This moment in which language breaks down is teeming with interest. Etchells describes it as “language transfixed on its own inadequacy” (Etchells, 1999, p.102) the performance is going to be transfixed on the malleable nature of language to be able to convey whatever emotion the vessels wish to convey. For example, if as performers, we wish to make the audience feel happy, we can quite simply say any lines that we have in a high pitch, jolly, inflection and this, in theory, should convey joviality. However, the experiment could go another way entirely.

When the group were recording some vocal sounds for the soundscape, they burst into laughter at a humorous event that happened at the time. Although their laughter was founded in humour and nothing sinister, when the recording was played back to an audience member, they remarked that the laughter was creepy and haunting. This was an interesting revelation as it meant that although the group thought they were conveying humour, the audience member received it very differently. This is where the experiment will become incredibly interesting when the performance takes place. The juxtapositions might have a certain emotional intention, however it might be conveyed to the audience in varying ways, and the audience may all experience different feelings towards it.

Works Cited

Etchells, T. (1999) Certain Fragments, London: Routledge.

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33 days, 33 hours or 33 minutes

The role of the performer is an interesting concept when looking at contemporary work. Marina Abramovic’s risky and dangerous work often places the audience in a significant role within it. They are not only the spectator; they are given sense of control, power and presence within a performance. The Artist Is Present (2010) is a famous one to one durational performance, which lasted three months, from March to May 2010. Abramovic spent each day sat at a table in The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The audience were invited to sit for as long as they wanted at a chair opposite her. Her audience queued for hours to become a spectator and be involved in the performance. The audience played an equal part in her performance; it relied on their presence as much as hers. The performance was about the “silent exchange between the artist, the sequence of people who occupy the chair opposite her, and the audience.” (Biesenbach 2010, p.40). The piece evoked different emotions and reactions from both the audience and the performer, as this exchange was dependent on the person who entered the space and how they connected to Abramovic. The spectator dictated how long this exchange lasted, empowering them with a sense of control over their own experience.

Andre Stitt is another contemporary artist experimenting with durational work, and is known for his “cutting edge, provocative and politically challenging work.” (Stitt 2013). He creates live art for group and solo exhibitions, and often presents his work in a gallery style in which the audience can view for as long or as short a period as they want to. One performance entitled The Institution (2005) was spread across various rooms in a warehouse which played host to different objects. He used an axe in one room to chop square windows into one of the walls and went on to paint black frames around them.

Andre

(Photo: Google Images – The Institution by Andre Stitt. Accessed 12 November 2013)

 

‘Entrapment’ is the stimulus for our performance. One news report which stood out in our research, was the recent escape of three women who were kidnapped over ten years ago. Ariel Castro, the kidnapper of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, was imprisoned for a total of 33 days before he committed suicide. The women themselves were in captivity for 10-11 years, yet Castro only endured 33 days of incarceration. This inspired the strict sense of timescale in our performance and subsequently, the title of our piece: 33 minutes.

Creating a durational performance interested us as it explores the “effects of endurance, such as exhaustion and euphoria; the ironic ephemerality of the event” (Allain and Harvie 2006, p.184). However, creating a performance that lasted 33 days is impossible, given our other commitments and projects. Our piece then became 33 minutes. We started to generate an interest in creating a gallery feel to our performance. We, as performers could become objects within a sculpture, stripping away identity and becoming a part of a piece of artwork. It is necessary for the sculpture to appear clinical, as if cleansed, and rid of any emotive characteristics. Over the ten years, the news of the three girls kidnapped inevitably became less important amongst more current events and headlines. Their identities were lost as a result of diminishing media attention. As a group we want to portray this within our performance by concealing ourselves within our own sculpture, a sculpture created to be observed.

 

 

Works Cited

 Allain, Paul and Jen Harvie (2006) The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance, Oxon: Routledge.

Biesenbach, Klaus Peter (2010) Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, New York: Museum of Modern Art.

Stitt, Andre (2013) Andre Stitt, Online: http://www.andrestitt.com/about-this/ [Accessed 1 November 2013].

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Join me…under the table

“theatre is not dependent upon its location” (Freshwater 2009, p.2).

 

During this week’s workshop we were instructed to produce a 5 minute one to one performance. At first this seemed impossible with no direction or stimulus to follow, but after discussing intimacy within a performance, the first ‘space’ that caught my eye was the small table that our lecturer used as a desk. I immediately went to this table, crawled underneath and sat under it. The space was very small and cramped, but with a squeeze would enable another audience member to fit. This then became my performance space.

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(Photos: Under the Table. Taken -8 November 2013)

 

 “Intimacy enables two sentient beings, who feel comfortable enough with each other on an emotional and/or physical level, to reveal something about themselves,” (Chatzichristodoulou and Zerihan 2012, p.1).

I found a black sheet to cover my table with and managed to squeeze a bean bag under so that my audience member would feel more comfortable. My performance was a whispered discussion about dreams, in which my audience member could reveal their most frightening and enjoyable dream experiences. Referring to the quote above, this describes that intimacy is between people that know each other well. Of course, not everyone has established incredibly close friendships within the class. This whole concept of being in such tight proximities with another person and also sharing emotions and personal thoughts that you wouldn’t normally share, was fascinating to experiment with, and to “impose situations of explicit intimacy and proximity between the artists’ bodies and the bodies of others, sometimes in more directly intimate settings of a one-to-one performance,” (Chatzichristodoulou and Zerihan 2012, p.39-40).

Some of my audience members sat up in the space, whereas some lied down, resting their head on the bean bag. The experiment worked really well, as I aimed to achieve a performance that not only incorporated a physically intimate space, but also made it more comfortable for others to talk to me even if they didn’t know me that well. The performance felt confessional, not too dissimilar to that of a Christian confession booth, but without the anonymity of the listener as it was affected by my own personality and presence. It was a personal and shared experience and I’d be interested to see how far this idea could go.

With the preliminary idea of experimenting with the theme of entrapment for our assessed performance, I realised, whilst under the table, this could be a significant exercise for my group to have engaged in. From the start of the devising process we have had many ideas for the final performance, and toyed with the idea of us being physically trapped for a length of time. It was then that I presented the idea of being inside three boxes for the duration of our performance, perhaps wearing night vision cameras for our audience to watch on a screen showing how we are isolated from each other, trapped and only accessible through this perspective. Although, perhaps the audience having access to us visually would undermine this sense of entrapment and therefore it might be better if they were unable to see us or unaware of our presence.

 

Work Cited

Chatzichristodoulou, Maria and Rachel Zerihan (2012) Intimacy Across Visceral and Digital Performance, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Freshwater, Helen (2009) theatre & audience, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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