Work session, 3/11

present: Barbara, Jeff B., Marc, Dale, Edward

We began with an intro to simple contact improv, i.e., hand-to-hand weight sharing. The idea is that the two people give and receive weight in a deliberate, fluid, and improvisatory manner.

Marc and Barbara gave a reading of Jeff’s adaptation of Chekhov’s one act, “The Bear.” This is the South Park version of the play: foul-mouthed, coarse, and very funny. It has a raucous energy that translates for the 21st century audience the tensions involved in the original. The updated social references were completely analogous and effective.

We discussed how we might include this in the performance piece. Barbara suggested we could break it up into bits and thread it through the evening. Dale was leaning more towards finding a way to do the thing whole.

We discussed our developing axis of Bear <—> Giraffe. Bear = totem, powerful, giving <—> Giraffe = unknown force outside, looking in, vaguely ominous, somehow wants to take. The absolute absurdity [technical term] of the alignment appealed to everyone.

Marc referenced an article (?) called “Becoming Animal,” which led into a discussion of Cherokee shapeshifting, shamanism, and ceremonies attached to those.

Discussion followed about structuring the evening, again. (Actually, several such discussions threaded throughout.) Jeff added childhood/adulthood/childhood to our layers of meaning on the chart. Marc had run the giraffe piece through the translator a couple of times. Dale discussed how we might establish our several texts at the beginning, then cycle back through the distorted versions.

Marc began to talk about the process of generating “images” (and our need to do so) that we could collect and then assemble as we see fit. Dale said he would create 5×8 cards with storyboard frames and text areas for us to record these images so we’d have handy access to them.

As an illustration, Marc placed the three poster printouts of part-2 [pdf] in a triangle on the floor and suggested that someone sitting in the triangle, puzzling over the text, while perhaps “We’re Queer” [pdf] or “We’re Frauds” is being performed elsewhere on the stage, would be an interesting image.

Jeff and Barbara departed, Edward arrived.

Dale jumped into a Vocal Sequence session with the line “Line of flight alerts you like all good past phrases do. But back” (from part-2). Out of his exploration, the same image stood out: drawing a line with a finger on “line of flight,” then returning to box in “good past phrases” with a series of three boxes, then running backwards on “But back.”

There was also a moment of humor when he turned “But back” into a simple “Butt. Back.” while indicating each in turn.

We discussed further use of the part-2 text. Marc stood in the center. Dale approached him and placed his hand on Marc’s chest with the line “Your hand resting on the vibrations.” He then moved around Marc, placing his hand on Marc’s back, sides, exploring lines like “Find North. Find South. Find East. Saying life is not always linear.”

Marc responded with “It was some bespectacled guy in a bow tie and a deep voice,” and then continued with “he said/she said” quotes from the text.

They both kept working, Marc remaining disengaged while Dale continued to seek. Dale played with lines pertaining to listening, the radio, father. Marc played with lines pertaining to father/”she.” It ended when Dale, who had been circling Marc, seeking the source of the sound/father, ended behind him; Marc repeated “Your hand resting on the vibrations,” and Dale reached over his shoulder and placed his hand on Marc’s chest. In this quasi-embrace, they stopped.

NEXT: MAR. 18, 6:30, NSOD

  • TEXTS: giraffe piece, bear pieces
  • PATHS: Vocal Sequence; Contact Improv
    • ???

Work session, 3/4/09

present: Jeff B., Barbara, Dale, Marc, and eventually Edward

Dale brought and posted the Invocation he wrote a couple of years ago, imploring our patron saint, Edward D. Wood, to grant us delusion and/or success in our efforts.

Marc plunged right in with the giraffe piece: reading/reacting to the text, chanting it, memorizing it, working through some Vocal Sequence stuff.

Eventually Jeff joined in, taking the piece in the direction of an interrogation, or at least a questioning. Marc keeps intoning, responding.

Jeff asked about a note Dale had scribbled on a copy: “This needs to be a video.” Dale said he thinks that the original graphics could be used to create a creepy video to illustrate a soothing, yet creepy, voice reading the piece.

(Here are the original graphics:



Marc had moment where he was riffing on the two squares line where the word square turned into squeer, which would link nicely into the We’re Queer routine.

The line “Put your finger on…” became important. Marc obeyed the “Pause and assist” line and put Barbara’s and Dale’s fingers on their heads. Fingers became giraffe horns, numbers.

From “Guide the students in answering the seven questions,” Dale created an ad hoc list of seven questions:

  1. Why wasn’t it there before?
  2. When?
  3. Are you naked there?
  4. Is it gone?
  5. What do you see?
  6. How many giraffes are looking over the fence?
  7. What have you done?

These became part of the texture of the performance.

Jeff and Marc entered into a mirror exercise while Barbara picked up the text. Dale continued making notes and occasionally throwing out one of the seven questions.

It then became a kind of fugal exercise with everyone overlapping questions, Projecting Atmosphere, making connections, finding none…

Jeff picked up Dale’s draft of We’re Frauds and somehow we exited the giraffe piece and looked over that text for a moment.

Then we debriefed:

  • sense of threat; Dale saw a hooded figure strapped to a chair in a spotlight; the interrogation focusing on the giraffe questions; we dicussed that at some length
  • Dale talked about the ominous quality he found in the original math worksheet, especially in the “Pause and assist” line.
  • Marc liked the moment when near the end Dale stood and once more enumerated the seven questions; the audience should be anxious that we’re going to ask them these impossible questions
  • Marc pointed out the “sound machine” we worked ourselves into at one point
  • Dale liked the moment when Jeff and Barbara were “doing’ animals and the ambiguity of giraffe/elephant became part of the sense of unease at one point

At that point Edward Canada joined us. We began to fill him in on everything-he-needed-to-know. The nude performance piece came up. Despite Dale’s urging, Jeff refused to recap what he and Kevin had worked on previously. Dale performed the piece instead.

Jeff and Barbara made their exit; Dale and Marc continued to feed Edward information. Edward make a couple of salient suggestions for the graph: the role of alcohol (ritual/music/entheogenic substances) in releasing the artist from “the box” and into the flow of creativity; sex as a prime motivator.

Marc suggested that next week we play again, but then deliberately stop and create one-minute mini-performances based on what we’ve played with.

NEXT: MAR. 11, 6:30, NSOD

  • TEXTS: giraffe piece, new bear piece
  • PATHS: Vocal Sequence; Contact Improv