Monday, 19 November 2012

Letting Go (in Cardiff)

As the tour comes to an end, I am already slowly letting go of Motherland
Over 23 years of making work, it's been the most challenging, complex creative process I have encountered. 

10 performers 
1 understudy  
1 dramaturg
2 technicians
3 staff  
and me.
I named it as an experiment before we started. A new way of working. More detached. More formal compositional choices to frame our activity. I tried to name the risks. 
But the process still took people by surprise.  

I have never felt more isolated in my role  as director. More disconnected. Or more misunderstood.

It seems peoples' heads were exploding working in a different way to the way we have worked before.
It's been taken personally.
But then it always is.
It's been epic. Its been dramatic.
But then it always is.

So many artists in the studio to consider.
So many egos.  
So much doubt to push through.
So much material to consider. 
So many decisions to make about what to keep, what to leave behind.
So much material to put my faith into when others couldn't see the picture

This deep and disturbing mix of psychology and creativity, this mixing of emotion with
form, structure with content. Personal and professional investment comes at a price. It costs all of us and can blind us to each others' needs. It threatens friendships. It leaves us drained and fatigued.

This translation of emotion and experience into art.
We produced something extra-ordinary. 
Out of the ordinary. 
Do the means justify the end product?
I am no longer sure. 

Some things remain the same. 
Maybe it is time for a big change.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A reflection from Andrea Catania

Each time I perform the piece I find a new feeling, a new look, a new silence and new special moments. I love the cast and it is a pleasure to be on stage with them. I am falling in love with the moments of immobility I have during the show, but I just find it very difficult that the performances are so sparse and far apart. I wish we were able to do them one after the other. The post discussion in Brighton was very strange, a very tense energy, I hope this will not happen again.
.............I am still here.................................................................

Monday, 5 November 2012

Leah's thoughts - the start of the tour

The shows have now started.  This new experience is so different to just rehearsing in Eastleigh. Everything is set. I am getting on the train each week with a sense of purpose. I am now so much clearer, I know the meaning of everything I am doing. It all seams very real now.

Before the first show in Newbury I felt very prepared. I had so much adrenaline. I went on stage feeling nervous yet excited. I felt really in it, on the ball and enjoying it. My family were in the audience, after the show my Sister and Brother (who, unlike my Mum and Dad, had never seen a run) told me how moved they were. For some reason I didn’t expect them to feel moved, or that they could relate. We had been working in our own bubble for a lot of time, and sometimes it was very hard to think about the reaction. Whilst creating the material it felt hard to even imagine that other people would understand and even relate to what we had been working on in our own little world. 

The next show was a very different experience for me. It was very weird. It was like I was on autopilot.  Before the show I was quite stressed and kept saying to everyone ‘I think I’ve forgot some of my props, I’m sure I had more. Where are they?’ of course, I had everything I needed.  During the show, it was like I forgot everything I was meant to be doing, but was so familiar with it; I just did it sort of unconsciously. Because of this, after the show I felt like, 'Whoa, have I just done that, have I really just done a 2 hour show, did I really just run on a circle of boxes? Did I really sing with everyone and play harmonica? Did I really just do a duet with Rob? Play violin with PK? Stand in front of an audience and show what we have been doing for the past 10 weeks?'

Even though we have only done a few shows, I feel like I’ve already had experiences, very few 12 year olds would have.  And although it can be tiring and I have sometimes felt like it is all too much, I am now fully realising that doing this is so amazing for me, and I am learning so much from it.

Leah Yeger 

Monday, 22 October 2012

PK reflects on the first few shows

After such an intense devising period it's time to reset the body clock to ‘performing mode’. So far we have done 3 shows over 3 weeks. Roughly 1 show a week. I wish there was more shows, so I could get into a grove of performing, to the comfortable swing of it rather than feeling like it's a premiere every time.  It's exciting though. I’m fond of small venues, when you can look into an audience member’s eyes. I especially like to look into men‘s eyes, trying to figure out what they make of Motherland issues. 

We’ve had one fainter. I wonder if it was all the blood on stage…but there is gossip he was simply drunk! Lots of warm smiles, understanding looks, couple of people nodding off, giggling teenagers…I’d say nothing unusual….

Looking forward to confront the work with Brighton and London audience….Looking forward (and slightly anxious) to sharing it with my friends. Looking forward to sharing the stage space with amazing performers. Looking forward to sharing mischievous smiles with Aurora and Andrea before rocking out the “Pussy Riot” song. It has only just started…soon it’s gonna be over…

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Mapping Motherland

We have to work, work, work. Everything will grow. Everything will grow.

I am drawing a map. It is a very detailed map. I'd like you to follow it. Follow the map. Get to know the journey. The routes and the shortcuts, the peaks and the troughs, the highways and the byways, the ditches and the dirt. Know the journey inside out. Guide someone through it. Do it with your eyes closed. Take a friend. Take a picnic. Take some pictures. Take the piss if you like. But follow the map. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.

Trust the process. Trust yourself. Then you can play.

Charlotte, Scott, Alex, Aurora, Janusz and Patrycja's thoughts from three years ago

I feel very uncertain as to what can be next after so much questioning, but with some time off this will emerge and unfold as it always does and I will start to make phone calls to these talented, committed collaborators. 'Hey, I've had this idea I think we should try...' 

Remember the words of a lady who came to me after the show and said: "As long as I live on this earth, I always thought that the sign to clap and leave the theatre was when the houselights are on". 

People/the public seem to be finding things in the work to ponder, some of them. Others ponder other things. What people like, what people dislike.I think the work wanted to ask some questions of conventions. The rub, has caused some heat, here and there. I can’t tell if we are hip. Or not. Depends on who you ask. At any rate, Thank God she went on. It has changed our lives, forever. 

I find it hard to talk about something that I do and live because of my inability to express it differently. I get up on stage to try and share that, which cannot be put into words or even into actions. Yet, I try. Not always do I agree with what I am supposed to be portraying on stage, but that’s why they call it professionalism. In that sense, I think I’ve matured a lot; in accepting that the world doesn’t start or end with my opinion.Yet, I try…I sometimes fight to great lengths for what I believe and hope that those around me have come to understand that as passion rather than discarding it as mere pigheadedness.

We have talked a lot this week and it has been useful, non-egocentric talking - about the work and what it needs, what it means, what it offers us, where it may be going. All three performers are is working within a restricted palette of language - pushing one idea as far as it can go, making, dismantling, reworking, reshaping, repeating, pushing it around. We end up with multiple versions of similar material, material that can be looped and repeated, but what is exciting is that we are now distilling down - making decisions about what works and what needs to be rejected and removed from the picture. I enjoy this process. Mining, digging, reforming, recalling, settling on one version that might be something. And we are rupturing the material - marking it, speeding it up, stealing from others, writing it, scoring it, reading it, omitting bits....shifting between languages...

You can look at the picture, the emotions, you can frame them, there is no need to sink into them... there is more room for play, for mistakes, for being who you are.

Equipped with confidence I storm onto the stage, only to experience a wave of doubt. A difference between FEELING and ACTING doubt. “I am real...There isn’t such a thing as being real on the stage”.