Work session, 08/14/13

present: Dale, Jeff A, Jeff A, Marc

Marc led off with his “anxieties” over specific aspects of performance.  Used the storm scene from Lear as an example: what creates the effect of the moment?  Placement in story/performer/other stuff

Interest in developing a piece that takes the elements that contribute to the moment.  Also, what is our attitude towards story—are we [doomed to be] story-tellers?

A concern that all performance is mediated today, i.e., CD, DVD, film, tv.

Herewith, each member’s agenda:

  • MARC: I want to find out what my voice can do; avoid Lear
  • JEFF B: (1) vague ideas about piece about mill village/Strike of 1934—allow audience a way into that mindset—piece to be performed for groups/schools here and yon; (2) help Marc/Lacuna manifest Marc’s impulses; (3) Lear
  • JEFF A: personal growth—the group challenges me to think beyond my own boundaries
  • DALE: “empty vessel”; challenge of creating whatever others want to work on

Storm Drain

Marc had sent a text for exploration, “Storm Drain.”

Here’s the actual storm drain that inspired the text.


Marc: wrote it to explore interest in the concrete; audience is challenged to be present in the event—non-predictive, non-interpretive.


He referenced a piece by Beckett (Quad?) that consists of nothing but very precise stage movements.

At this point Dale got on his feet.  Marc demonstrated the two metal bowls he had brought.  A bit of water was in each, and as he struck the bowl, he moved it about and the tone was modified by the sloshing of the water.  He also brought his guitar.

Jeff and Jeff looked through the 1930s songbooks that Marc had brought.  We sang some songs, riffed on others.

Dale dragged out some of the previous Lacuna materials: the Vocal Sequence poster, plus some of the explanatory materials associated with it, plus the “moment cards” he developed for use during the Bear explorations.

Putzing around.  Working with the Monica (“Storm Drain”) text via the Vocal Sequence.

Dale asked for a task.  Jeff A told him to dance while he (Jeff) read the Monica text.

Jeff B began interviewing Dale as a mill worker; that segued into Jeff B becoming a mill worker himself. They improvised a wide-ranging conversation about the mill village days.  Marc improvised with the guitar, changing styles, rooting around the lyrics of “Old Wooden Bucket.”  The conversation took on Marxist undertones (of course).

Finally that wound down.  We debriefed a bit (comments below), and adjourned.

Lear, 3/17/10

present: Jeff B., Scott, Dale

After our warmup, we started exploring Act I. Dale started with Kent’s I.4 opener, and we discussed ways in which a) Kent could “disguise” himself, and b) we could make sure the audience realized it was Kent to begin with. During one pass through the first part of the scene, with Dale as Kent, Scott as Lear, and Jeff as attendants, we discovered that it could be interesting if nearly everyone recognized Kent but just held up his disguise. Only Lear was blind.

When Jeff took over Lear in that scene, he played him very decrepitly, which we then explored. Our focus shifted to Lear and we pulled scenes throughout the play, from the opening to near the end, looking at how it worked if Lear were practically senile.

The opening worked very well. Everything’s going so well, they’ve finally gotten the old man, who has grown increasingly erratic in recent years, to hand over the kingdom. All the negotiations are over, he’s been talked into retirement, and the main reason for the confab is to choose Cordelia’s husband. Everything else is already settled. (We talked about having a map with the lines already drawn, for example.)

And then it all goes off the rails: Lear decides to pull his “who’s your daddy?” stunt, and the entire court is thrown into turmoil. He redraws the lines, embarrasses his daughters, and in general is a horse’s ass. In this context, we see Cordelia and Kent’s actions as desperate attempts to get him back to some kind of sanity. Goneril and Regan are justified in their alarm.

We did the “trial” scene and looked at the difficulties of making the scene work. One thing we tried was to relieve the tedium of Edgar’s nonsense by interpreting it as schizophrenic ramblings, i.e., under his breath most of the time. It would serve as “mood music” for the rest of the dialog.

We did the scene in Gloucester’s castle where the two girls confront Lear and grind him down. We marveled at the paradox in the scene, that Goneril and Regan are absolutely correct in everything they say, and that Lear is an unbearable old fool, yet we hate the girls and feel sorry for the old man.

Anything else we discovered?

Lear, 3/3/10

present: Dale, Jeff B., Scott

We warmed up via the Vocal Sequence.

We read through Act I, switching off roles, although the role of Lear kept getting shoved onto Dale. Not a lot of discussion or in-depth exploration. We did start discovering the dark humor sown here and yond in the script.

We’re doing this, folks. Get your schedules prepped for Wednesday nights.

Work session, 10/28/09

present: Dale

Dale worked for 30 minutes, starting with some contact improv (only without the contact, naturally, since he was alone), and ending with some Vocal Sequence work on the phrase, “Let Merari praise the wisdom and power of the Lord with the Coney, who scoopeth the rock, and archeth in the sand.”

Then he went home.

Work session, 10/14/09

present: Jeff B., Dale

Dale hotglued the rubber tips onto the staffs. Jeff read over Dale’s scripts from last week.

We then pulled out the printout of Jubilate Agno [pdf] that Dale had brought and began playing with it. Jeff did a brilliant riff on “the box,” starting with text messages and a phone call to/from home about his violent five-year-old: “Put him the box. No, at the bottom of the bed, there’s a box, put him in it,” then moving on to haranguing the audience for being in the box, i.e., the performance space, even as Dale read interpreted Christopher Smart’s fevered, ecstatic ramblings.

Jeff then snagged a couple of pages, and we read independently. The antiphonal effect was often interesting, with phrases and ideas matching and chiming. If only we had had someone there watching and recording the good bits.

Then we sat and talked about the Lichtenbergian retreat for next weekend and how excited we were.

Plans for any performance were not discussed.

NEXT: OCT 21, 6:30, NSOD

  • TEXTS: “The Bear”; Neo-Futurist scripts; Jubilate Agno
  • PATHS: Vocal Sequence; other
  • HOMEWORK: write a Neo-Futurist piece; look over Jubilate Agno

Work session, 9/30/09

present: Marc, Dale, Jeff B, Summer

We discussed the decision last week to structure a performance around “The Bear” and some Neo-Futurist style pieces. We’ve been invited to nail down a date by NCTC, and we’re going to ask for Saturday, November 14.

An old NCTC company member, Barbara Petzen, will be in Atlanta that weekend, and we decided to cast her. What could be her objection? We also will be getting in touch with Jeff A. to rejoin us for the event.

Summer and Marc read over some of the Neo-Futurist pieces and made some suggestions of their own. Marc wants to riff on the recent Hugh Jackman/Daniel Craig YouTube kerfuffle, where they went off on a cellphone user in the house: a similar incident in a NeoFuturist house would provoke no tirade, because there’s no concentration to break. It’s all a “matter of process.”

Dale keeps thinking of the phrase “It’s a noble profession,” but hasn’t found a hook for it yet.

We ran through “On Nude Performance: B” a couple of times and began to get the hang of it. We began to function as a company, actually, putting together the stage picture and the reality that has to surround this fiction.

Brady’s MIA status was discussed. Jeff will check in with him.

NEXT: OCT 7, 6:30, NSOD

  • TEXTS: “The Bear”; Neo-Futurist scripts
  • PATHS: Vocal Sequence; other
  • HOMEWORK: write a Neo-Futurist piece

Work session, 9/23/09

present: Jeff B, Dale

Others were sick.

While Dale assembled the new rolling filing cabinet for Lacuna texts, files, books, and supplies, he and Jeff discussed getting the idea of a performance for NCTC this fall firmed up.

They decided that we can keep it very simple: “The Bear” as one half, and then 30-40 minutes of Neo-Futurist plays, about 15 or 20.

Dale suggested that we pick scripts from the Neo-Futurist book and choose some of those, both to perform and to study as models for our work. Hence, the performance would be a combination of the Neo-Futurists’ work and ours.

Jeff and Dale went through the book and tagged about a dozen scripts to begin working on.

Dale shared a new NF piece, one that is designed to alert the audience to the existence of the “Nude Performance” piece without actually, hopefully, having to perform it (although the option is there if the audience vociferously overrules “Summer’s” objections.)

NEXT: SEP 30, 6:30, NSOD

  • TEXTS: “The Bear”; Neo-Futurist scripts
  • PATHS: Vocal Sequence; other
  • HOMEWORK: write a Neo-Futurist piece

Work session, 8/26/09

present: Jeff B, Brady, Dale, Summer

Brady and Summer had their second readthrough of Jeff’s adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Bear.” This is a very very funny script.

While they were working, Dale produced “Two-Hander #1,” a Neo-Futurist script for Jeff and himself. No nudity was involved.

Afterwards, Dale went over the kinds of things we’ve been working on and laid out the long-term plan for the group.

Finally, everyone played a noise-making. Dale had brought the staffs from Coriolanus, some heavy cardboard tubes, some PVC piping, and some 2-inch-thick corrugated cardboard. Everyone banged and thumped and blew, experimenting with sounds. We wound up doing a 2 against 3 kind of beat, with three people whooshing the PVC pipes in 3 and one person thumping the cardboard in 2.

NEXT: SEP 2, 6:30, NSOD

  • TEXTS: Old Man Wind (doc), “The Bear”
  • PATHS: Vocal Sequence; Contact Improv; Story Theatre; other
  • HOMEWORK: write a Neo-Futurist piece

Work session, 8/12/09

present: Marc, Jeff B., Barbara, Dale

Our first meeting since April, and in the Newnan School of Dance’s new studios!

We have been asked to consider working with NSOD dancers to put together a performance for the next downtown Art Walk. We talked about material we could possibly put together in the five weeks before September 18. This included some Neo-Futurist pieces, a revival of “Milky Way” and/or “Two Sunflowers,” and two of our bear works, “Bear & Rabbit” and “Old Man Wind.”

At the moment, we’re focusing on developing “Old Man Wind.” We took five minutes to read over the text again and propose ways to integrate dancers into the work.

Some ideas:

  • cluster/machine, from which characters detach; music/sound created by the dancers
  • indication of the “four corners” in some way
  • use of turtle shell rattles, gourds, drums to create sound
  • use of specific colors
  • progression from noise and color to the stasis of the “young men” in the water and on to their rebirth
  • objects spoken of but embodied only by dancers in some way
  • the Old Man Wind embodied by a performer, but other characters indicated by movement
  • the use of fabric, poles, lights (LED flashlights?)

We will probably need to meet more than once a week in order to get this pulled together.

In addition to this performance piece, we are also considering an evening of pieces to be performed this fall down at NCTC in the black box: Jeff’s version of Chekhov’s “The Bear”; Turff directing Ionesco’s “The Lesson”; and a collection of Neo-Futurist works.

NEXT: AUG 19, 6:30, NSOD

  • TEXTS: Old Man Wind (doc)
  • PATHS: Vocal Sequence; Contact Improv; Story Theatre; other
  • HOMEWORK: be prepared to work the first 30 minutes on nothing but sound: vocalizations, body sounds, rattles, drums, etc.