“In order to achieve insight, you must work.”
– Kurt Schwitters
from “The Dada Painters And Poets: An Anthology, Second Edition,” (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: 1981), edited by Robert Motherwell, pg. xxvii.
Been home for nearly a month, but it feels like the previous tour hasn’t really stopped. Sure, I get to sleep in the same bed, but it still feels like I’m running around like crazy, only difference now is it’s not to catch a train at 5am in Europe. So what’s been happening?
The first project in December started just a few days after getting back from Italy, two performance with Jaap Blonk and Lotta Melin entitled the Beckett Variations. The material was extremely difficult to coordinate, though in the end the performances were well worth the effort. My contribution was comprised of six flexible pieces that had the ability to be transparent when necessary, allowing room for the texts and movement. I did not want the compositions to function like background music for a theater production. Though we had five days of rehearsals leading up to the performances, there was barely enough time to organize a way to deal with the elements of theater, movement, text and music, so that the components could intersect in an improvised way. It was not until I started to consider the other details of the production the same as I would for an improvised music concert that I discovered a method for approaching the work. This didn’t really happen until the evening of the first performance, I was almost in limbo until the moment we walked on stage. Thankfully, the final clarity that Jaap and Lotta brought to their aspects to the piece helped me find my way in the end.
Both shows, on the 9th and 11th at the Chicago Cultural Center, were quite different from each other in tone and in the structural flow of the preconstructed and improvised elements. Attendance at the two concerts was at full capacity, around 300, and at least half of the audience members attending the productions stayed for a question and answer discussion after each performance. What came together on stage obviously raised a number of creative issues and questions for more than just the performers. Special thanks goes to the Outer Ear Festival (particularly its director, Lou Mallozzi) for including the Beckett Variations on their program; and to Dan Grzeca and Richard Hull who designed and painted the incredible backdrop, an image of the Trojan horse derived through the “exquisite corpse” process.
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