Friday, March 24, 2006

Trying to scare each other

We had our first rehearsal on Monday for the new project we're developing (code name: fear!) for the fall. This is the small, portable show to involve me and Kristine and a musician (directed of course by Jyana & composed by Rika) hopefully something that we can run for a while and do economically and without much lead-in or fuss. We're devising this show, unlike the work we've done in the past, which has always involved adapting a pre-existing script or story. We're starting with a big concept--fear!--and then honing in from there. We've begun by collecting basic research on what interests us in the subject. The plan is to work for a few weeks now generating ideas/material, and then either bring in a writer or start developing text and narrative ourselves in a more intensive process this summer.

On Monday, we played around with some of the physical symptoms of fear, using a list of them we'd found as a kind of butoh-fu, Kristine and I embodying the images we heard as Jyana read the list. Addressing scale and dosage, we tried being dizzy and being dizziness on a scale from no dizziness at all to as much dizziness as possible. We played around a little with using an object as the fear-inducer, if you will--there was a styrofoam cylinder that we found in the space, which we used to chase each other around. It became the embodiment of scary things. It became clear, though, how much of fear depends on its being unknown. How much is in the anticipation of the bad thing, and how in the event, the bad thing can almost be a relief in that it ends the fear.

The challenge that awaits us (well, one among many) as we develop the piece is to make it personal. To explore our own fears and figure out how to create something dramatic out of them, something that speaks to who we are as people and who we are as a company.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Radio Plays

We had a great meeting last night with Leigh Crizoe over at Tribeca Radio. It's a new and growing community site, and Leigh's looking to include more arts programming, including snazzy new radio theater.

So we're looking for submissions. If you have any radio plays, or plays that you would be interested in adapting for radio, get in touch with us through our website--. Here are the basic criteria:

If you're new to us or to our work, take a look at our website to get a sense of who we are and what we do. In all our work we try to incorporate music, movement and text. While the movement won't be quite such a big factor in radio, we are definitely looking to explore sound and music possibilities.

This is an experiment for us--a way to explore a new genre and to meet new and exciting collaborators. We're looking to record our first sometime in the next month or two. So get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Spanish stories

Tomorrow evening we'll be meeting to plan the next AE project. Jyana has dropped exciting hints about a brilliant Spanish novel she's been reading that she wants to adapt. We'll also be talking about site-specific options and musical sculpture. Details to come...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Theatrical Community

Out of the blue, we were faced with a thrilling and daunting opportunity: the chance to participate in the purchase of a building. The building was to include performance and office space, as well as a scene shop, and the plan involved a lot of architectural redesign. The money required was terrifying, and frankly, well beyond our fundraising means. It was the kind of choice that we'd love to consider in 5 to 10 years. At the moment, it wasn't really a viable option. That isn't to say that if we had decided this was the right choice, we wouldn't have thrown ourselves completely into the task of finding the cash somewhere. But as we discussed it, we soon realized that this particular opportunity wasn't right. In terms of our work and our needs, what would best benefit the company would be office and rehearsal space, more than a dedicated performance space. Better to have a site where we can get together and make work that we then take to our audience (or prospective audience) than to take on the burden of creating a new performance destination as well as the challenge of getting people to come to it. Resource-wise, that's not ideal for us.

What was great, though, was the other part of this opportunity--the chance to work together with other groups to create a theatrical community. There are so many emerging companies competing for attention, and if you're a theatergoer, or a potential donor, the question is always which things are worth your time. An opportunity to join forces with other companies in a similar situation is appealing to us because it allows us to consolidate resources and present ourselves as a package deal: you like us, check these guys out; you like them, look what we can do. That's the practical consideration. What's even more important is that we have faith in and respect for the work these other groups do. Their missions inspire us, their interests overlap with ours, they're good people, and good artists, and good professionals.

I'm being vague because this group doesn't currently exist, and we don't yet know what form it would take if it did. But the chance to create it and the potential it has is hugely exciting.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

More Life and Death to Come

Jyana's post below about the issues of life and death that we were exploring is also relevant to what we're starting work on next: Iphigenia in Aulis. It's a story that we've been planning to do for some time now, with a new text by Emily Raboteau. There you have the story of a father deciding to sacrifice his daughter to start a war. It's an individual life, to be sure, but it's intimately connected to the lives of thousands of others. The play is all about the value that we place on life. In the sense of the heightened value one person's life can have, it resonates with the awful 'ticking bomb' scenario that's talked about all the time with respect to terrorism. In that case the polarities are reversed--hurting a person to prevent a war, ostensibly--but both example force us to consider the balance between one person and many. And they raise the question of whether there is a limit to what we will subject a human in service of a greater good (whether the greater good is good at all is open to question, of course). To what degree, that is, will we allow a person to cease being a person and become a tool for our use?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What's so great about a Cowboy Monk suicide?

When we first started working on this piece we faced a very obvious cultural divide: we here in the West often find it just incomprehensible that suicide could be the desired and celebrated outcome. We often joked about how inappropriate our play would seem from you traditional American perspective. One of the biggest challenges was how do we find a bridge so that our audience will get on board with this journey towards suicide. Hence cowboys. We're used to their all-or-nothin' lifestyle.
In thinking of where this piece is going to go next, I feel like this changing of cultural perspective is where we can really dig in deeper. We were so worried in the last draft of creating that bridge so people can get on board with the story. What would happen if we formed a bridge so the audience could really get in touch with that perspective?
Here in the US we have such difficulty coping with death and dying. We simultaneoulsy place enormous weight on each individual life and ignore death when it actually occurs. We are at a complete loss when it comes to facing death, both individually and collectively. If we create a performance piece where for a moment we enter into an alternative way of viewing individual life and death, do we open up that discussion and start to build a means to deal with death in our own lives?

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