pestilence days 5-11

Night rehearsals.

I’ve been slack at blogging this project. It’s taken me an awful lot of methodical, patient, slogging to get this piece to happen for me. I can say I’m tired all I want and creatively a little empty but nonetheless, I have to do something now and have an aversion to tardy approaches to rehearsals.

Last week has been a slow process, much talking and thinking, eating, smoking, chocolate, water, a lot of the week was spent working on the scene from Kristeva’s abjection, and taking a break on Friday, we returned Saturday night when it was dark and empty to try some things.

What was left on Monday from this was something that will come together into a couple of sections of the piece.

This week has been a return to early stuff, Kristeva’s abjection and the corporeal stuff we were doing in the first week. Today we got to a point where we’ve learnt most of it, and it’s possibly far too long, though speed and recklessness could help. A few more things to learn tomorrow and to make sure we know it in some form so we can decide what needs to go. I love cutting things, it’s the best part, callously destroying hours or days of work, being merciless and dispassionate. Shame I’m a sentimentalist and leave too much in.

We have another night rehearsal on Friday, and I promise to try harder to blog more, every day even.

pestilence day 3 & 4

Friday and Monday and the weekend at the library.

I’ve been struggling somewhat with this piece, possibly because I’ve been making or researching work since July last year and I’m feeling rather bereft of ideas and creativity and … a little burnt out also, would rather just get up, go to class, go to another class, go for a run, do yoga, do some reading, repeat. And also I’ve found the original ideas for this work, as a third part of extermination and hell and as a study in disease coming from Baudrillard is not quite what I’m thinking of right now.

I spent the weekend at the State Library experiencing disappointment because it’s not the one in Melbourne and have failed in finding almost all the books I was looking for, but reading Kristeva (avoiding the psychoanalytic stuff) and then going back to dancing plagues and manias which led me to Hans Holbein the Younger and his woodcut cycle of the Dance of Death.

Daniel and I spent Friday working on a scene that comes from Lars von Trier’s Epidemic which ends with Daniel in a trace in hysterics. Somehow this set the tone for the entire piece and after seeing Gabrielle’s development Witch/Red on Saturday I started to feel more determined and ready to be submerged in this for the next few weeks. Also it led me to listening to Wagner, which I have no idea where this will go.

Today Daniel and I started with something we played with in all the people i can remember sleeping with… we called ‘grab bite drop’, which is pretty much what we do. So working with Holbein’s woodcuts we spent the day grabbing, pulling, pushing, twisting hair and skin and limbs and biting sensitive places then shoving each other to the floor, maybe to bite a little more. Much saliva and drool was exchanged. Many limbs and joints were squashed, bruises are likely to appear tomorrow. The hardest thing though was getting up over and over, and wondering how some people can do it with such ease.

So the piece is moving more towards Kristeva’s idea of abjection, wherein disease and the manifestations of illness are seen as a part of the horror and revulsion of this. A bit of a discussion of bodily fluids and detritus, and then an evening at Cibo with Gala looking at videos of the Tarantella dance, the ballet and folk dance versions. I started to think it is beginning to make sense and then remember everything I need to do, but it doesn’t feel as empty as it did last week.

pestilence day 1 & 2

There is a reason for not blogging day one of rehearsals and it has to do with being delightfully waylaid by someone. However, yesterday Daniel and I started rehearsals for pestilence, which is supposed to be the third work in a series that began with extermination and followed with hell but perhaps is something else.

I started to read Baudrillard’s Symbolic Exchange and Death again and found after all the theory I was reading last year, Judith Butler and so on, it just didn’t feel substantial enough. So I thought I’d go to Foucault who has always been something of a silent partner in this stuff, and found him a bit boring to read, which I remembered from the first time. Lucky I stumbled back onto Julia Kristeva and began reading Powers of Horror again.

And then while rifling through all my DVDs looking for some Cantonese Opera, some unfinished stuff from hell, I came across Lars von Trier’s Epidemic, and Daniel and I have been watching much of it today and last night.

Also we have been expectorated much drool and spittle, and are having much disturbing fun in Dancecraft’s studios, and experiencing much abjection.

But more profoundly, it was a word that was a crossroads, a bridge, and that took into account [accounted for] Céline’s interest in borderline states: idiocy, rot [rottenness], people’s violence, anger … being mired in vomit, all sorts of phenomena that have to do simultaneously with disgust and fascination.

…I realized that in a certain number of clinical states that we see now, and that we perhaps a bit hastily refer to as “borderline,” the subjects are neither in the classic category of neurosis nor in the more or less classic category of psychosis, but find themselves between two chairs in a way, and what characterizes them is an extreme fragility of their boundaries.

By that I mean corporeal boundaries, for example, the skin, which becomes the locus of different symptoms and somatizations. This can also be different places, borders, or frontiers, of the body, the different orifices, the mouth, sexual organs, the anus, but also ears, eyes, etc. And also the limits [boundaries] between the self [ego, moi] and the other. The borderline [person] is often extremely sensitive to all sorts of threats and challenges to his integrity in terms of the other … creates a sort of territory between the two, which he often inhabits with a feeling of unworthiness or even deterioration [indignity or even rot].

— Julia Kristeva in conversation with Sylvère Lotringer