third to last (+ workshop) (+ special treat)

I ask Andrew what happens if you can’t sing? Do you act it while someone sings from the side, or does the understudy do the whole thing? I say, “for dance it’s ‘can stand? can dance!’ plus a bucket in the wings for contingencies,” harhar. There’s me, Act 1 about to finish, standing up in the toilet by wedging my arse against one wall and head on the other (Jam!), Nicole saying, “Do you think you still need a bucket?”

I never went from feeling revolting to feeling fine so quick. Amazing what pre-show adrenalin can do. Besides the sensation like I was on a gently pitching fishing boat in a five meter swell the whole time, for the half hour either side of Act 2, and all the bits involving me being a) coherent, b) standing, c) alive, d) on stage, went rather swimmingly.

On the weekend we had the last of our three workshops, this time for the youth friends of la Monnaie (I wish I knew the exact name of the group, but you get the idea). Along with some of the techies and a few from previous workshops were several of the Friends, some also opera singers, seventeen of us in all.

Dasniya decided to teach the Tamara figure, which is what Parsifal unties at the end of Act 2. It begins with going over each shoulder and knotting in the middle of the back and base of the throat, and from there is improvisation. Having taught three workshops in close succession to quite different groups and with quite different emphases, what strikes me is how people relate to this stuff, how they don’t see it in the worlds of BDSM, porn, or even something to assimilate within their performance training, but come to it quite open. And the effect it can have …

After Dasniya demonstrated the figure on me, I spoke a bit about what goes on from the inside, that it’s not passive or empty, having something done to you, that it is a quite intense concentration of the senses, particularly those other that sight — hearing, touch, even smell with fresh ropes, or the other person, also proprioception, equilibrioception, as well as, if one chooses, the subtle exploration of pain. Also that it is an involvement with the other person or people, that the physical communication comes through the rope.

I have a video of the Act 2 dress rehearsal. We watched it shortly after, and it had quite an effect on me thinking about how I hang. We’ve been doing a lot of that, analysing what we do, discussing it from the inside, so having a video has been invaluable in thinking of how we shape how we are seen. I think Hänchen plays a lot quicker now than he did during the dress, but even so, we were each hanging for around nine minutes. Not so long, though longer than I thought.

While discussing my bucket on Tuesday, Sandra also said someone would be there to look at the filming. Sunday night, closing we will have five cameras on us. What will become of the footage, I have no idea, but it’s a relief to know there will be some documentation. For you who can’t wait or want to relive our scene, here it is from the dress rehearsal…