opening & second night

Now is the difficult part. Rehearsals are easy. Turn up in the morning or when the call is, newness and excitement, thought-provoking, tiredness, thrills, frustrations also. This is a building of something unknown I have an affinity for, and it all comes to a culmination on the one night. Première. Sometimes I wish the performance was only one, to hold nothing back and create all for this one moment of intensity.

The second is always peculiar for me, especially if it is a matinée or the closing night also. It’s not really second-night blues, rather a difficulty in finding the needed mental and emotional attitude, as the one for opening night can only be used once, and then it is gone.

Thursday I hung on one side, today on the other. My stupidity in changing my warmup routine for the générale has made my back a well of unhappiness. We are all feeling a bit sore, skin scraped off, the emotional fragility of hanging, for me also headaches and a corporeal dissociation. Nothing aspirin or chocolate doesn’t remedy. There is though something disorienting about doing something as physically intimate as shibari suspension and then coming off into the wings and entering backstage performance hysteria where everyone is slightly high on performing.

I think I am finding a routine of what I see of Parsifal: nothing of the first act, heard only on the coms or watched at the beginning while warming up or backstage. Act two heard from prompt side for the Blumenmädchen, and then absent again, always seeming to arrive sidestage for “Amfortas! Die Wunde!”, and seeing this through till we come on again at the end of the act for the vanquishing of Klingsor. Act three is mostly absent. I’m having my wig removed, along with four layers of hairpins, then showering off the white body paint and dressing in rehearsal clothes, maybe lying down for a bit and having something to eat, and if I go back to the stage immediately, arriving just before Amfortas. It’s a strange viewing that leaves an emptiness.

Along with the sharp jolt of change from rehearsal to performance, comes trying to find a way to keep things living. I tend to enjoy immersing myself in a work, researching, learning, newness, and this opera, my first has been a big revelation for me, possibly close to seeing Frankfurt Ballett the first time. I’ve been thinking very much for the past year what I want to be doing and finding a resistance in me to making dance that I don’t quite understand, but now …

Amusing myself by continuing to study Wagner and Parsifal now we have opened makes me feel awkward as I have this not necessarily logical feeling we should be finished with the delving and concentrating on exploring the performance, yet this is exactly it.

When we come on at the end of the second act, we are to look at Parsifal. Why? I was never quite sure, despite reading the libretto, and my eyes and attention constantly drift to Kundry. I spent some time last night reading and watching and much of this was around Parsifal in this part so when someone said to me today just before we went on, “What are we supposed to be feeling?” I felt a relief that I could say more than just, “I dunno, just look at Parsifal”, and found in myself some more sense in why my eyes would bore into his back, between shoulder blades.

So, reading, watching, listening. Syberberg’s film seems to come up often, perhaps because unlike an opera performed, it exists as a constant throughout time, remaining the same now under the gaze of the viewer as it did thirty years ago. Žižek wrote about this, as did a few others who give a decidedly psychoanalytic reading of Wagner. Lucky also to find the film in its entirely on YouTube (Wagner — Parsifal (Syberberg, 1981) film). What was especially interesting to me is Syberberg’s decision to cause Parsifal to become female from shortly after the kiss until Klingsor returns. The mouthing of Kundry’s lament by Parsifal that I see from the wings recalls this for me also.

All of which is to say it’s difficult for me to know how the performance goes. It’s a joy to stand on the stage, blackness in front split by rows of blinding orbs and other, smaller lights, not able to see faces and the applause somehow distant, yet filling my body. The cafeteria has a wall of press cuttings. There are videos, photos, words also to be found. I shall continue reading and watching, writing a bit also.

Next performance is Tuesday, I have plans to take some photos from the side, hopefully without decorating my camera with whiteness. Also we have been asked if we’d like to have a workshop for 18-25 year-olds in Shibari, as well as our impending suspension workshop for cast and crew. Again no photos, but interesting press stuff coming perhaps tomorrow.