Speaking up, mess and what goes on behind doors unlocked.

I’ve been here before.
Being here again is to miss properly the people I missed out missing fully the first time.
I dreamt a monsoon of tears
that changed the course of their muddy futures for one of celestial celebration.
I woke early and walked to the beach.
I couldn’t see the usual horizon parting sky and sea for mist – a blurring of two worlds was still underway.
And yes,
something happened last night,
but it’s a secret…

Open doors welcome sun setting glows – before the glass was installed at Sura Medura

New glass was installed recently at Sura Medura, finally sealing the space and giving ultimate entry and exit power to the many, already fitted doors. As the building itself takes shape, so does the performance project, our beloved snowball.

My main objective these past few weeks has been to help make some final decisions about the overall show structure. Matteo, Ana and I have been working rigorously trying to get our joint heads around all the aspects of the piece. Jumping between the conceptual, the practical, the imagined and the ideal has been a bit disorientating at times. It’s proving a tricky process in many ways and one that seems to be giving new learning experiences to all. I’m really enjoying working with a mixture of visual and performative languages and trying to build an open story that an audience can traverse and find meaning in. Out with these sessions I’m in conversation with the other artists, designing the poster, and doing any other extra jobs that need doing. It’s usually later on in the evening, or if we have time to get in the sea before sunset, that I decompress a little and reflect on the process.

Some extra thoughts I’ve had have been mainly to do with collaboration and what it is. How do you define roles in a collaboration project? Is it useful/important to do this? If so, why/why not? What is collaboration? Is it born mainly from the agreements between the artists in how they wish to work and a shared understanding of what everyone does? In all cases, communication is key it seems.

The Snowball Effect poster design featuring Fabrice’s beautiful hand carved wooden houses – resized for Instagram.
The Snowball Effect logo created after an effective exercise in poster design with Tehani and Ana. Setting the task of encapsulating the show in an image or collage helped solidify the main theme of the piece and informed the design of the logo.

Invited initially as director, and then as a performer, I came with an open mind as general collaborator. I was aware that the piece was still, in a way, an experiment, and that, how we all worked together, was going to be up to us. I came prepared to be part of the process in any way that best served the project and overall vision for the work. My role for the first couple of weeks took the form of co-director/writer/dramaturg to help play out the many proposed possibilities that the journey for the audience could take. This process would then inform decisions about the overall structure. By zooming in and out like this, some things became clearer and this felt quite good. A pattern soon emerged that after these epiphany moments, there seemed to be a certain amount of time until we would be back untangling or reinventing the same part of the puzzle. My main issue with this process was that it seemed to take a very long time and involved a lot of sitting down and discussing. It was really interesting however, finding out how each us think about performance and trying to get to a place that we thought worked best for the piece. I realised I’ve got a skill for holding whole scenes, including the emotional effects of these scenes; whole show pathways, characters, scenography ideas, music ideas, in my head like a floating puzzle, ready to be arranged and re-arranged at will. All the while, my senses are hard wired to latch onto any new arrangement that feels most full, complimentary, exciting or potent. It was a useful skill in this setting at times, but not always.

I’m particularly proud of my show map creation, which I proposed as a way to work through ideas. With the others hesitant at first, they finally ended up liking the approach and used it often, later, to help describe to the rest of the team, the structure of the piece. It looked like a board game, and, as such, served as a bit of visual relief from the sometimes overwhelming mental image of the piece.

I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of building and interrogating at the same time. After facilitating and playing what has felt like a massive game of creative problem solving I’ve suddenly found myself at a point where I need to have the space and time to think about the performance element and what this can add, change, flavour. I also don’t want to get stuck in a sort of “director’s assistant” role. I’ve worked with the other performers individually at various points and we are making progress in this area.

Distorting perceptions…experiments in shadow play with Tehani.

Since we are lacking the full cast and an audience to practice with, it seems clearer and clearer that each creative window and door must remain open, or partially so, for now…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s