Some months already since the pan-hemisphere rehearsals of Daniel Schlusser’s Ophelia Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. I’ve been sitting on these photos for a while, and as spring lurches across Berlin – as well as some imminent Dasniya and I shibari adventures to be announced – decided if I don’t get them up here now, it will enter the region of unlikelihood. I think all photos are from Daisy Noyes (not sure about the first one, but assuming yes).
Rehearsals via Skype between Berlin and Melbourne as the sun rose in mid-summer. More talking and writing and videoing back and forth in the last months, and suddenly it arrives.
Daniel Schlusser’s new performance, a co-production with Chamber Made Opera and Bell Shakespeare’s Mind’s Eye, for which I somehow contributed Japanese rope bondage, is premiering as I write this, half a world away. Really wish I was there.
You can see it over the next three days …
Sounds of an army massing, or is it trumpets…or thunder? Then a chorus of angels…
O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!
The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword;
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck’d the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatch’d form and feature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
OPHELIA DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
Thursday 24 November 2011 at 9pm
Friday 25 November 2011 at 9pm
Saturday 26 November 2011 at 9pm
At a Private Living Room in Armadale
Ophelia doesn’t live here anymore reveals the story of Ophelia as a monomaniacal botanist – wilful, unpredictable and in love with a self-harming sociopath.
Ophelia doesn’t live here anymore is a cross-artform opera, a collaboration between Daniel Schlusser, composer Darrin Verhagen, video artist Richard Grant and choreographer Frances d’Ath,
with design by Marg Horwell. Performed by Daniel Schlusser, Lily Paskas
and Karen Sibbing in the role of Ophelia, the project will bring together text from Hamlet,
video, physical extremes and Verhagen’s dark combination of music and Noise to create
a new chamber opera performance installation.
In the graben between late night and early morning, while scrabbling small amendments for something of Daniel Schlusser’s I hope I’ll be announcing around Monday, I received an email from him. How two months has passed without my awareness …
Early August, I was rising at an hour that was both refreshing and bleary, to rehearse with him and others via Skype to the opposite end of the world. They in Melbourne, me here in Berlin, teaching rope bondage, suspension, shibari, through a small portal I felt I could quite possibly slide through if I approached it right.
After these mornings, I would find myself alone with the convenient ring hanging from the ceiling, making demonstration videos, messing with my ideas and trying to convey them to Lily, wondering if any sense could be made; if this way of trying to make performance had any substance to it.
The video I found this morning … ah, what to say? Daniel is a theatre director I like very much, and I’m very happy to be working with him on Ophelia doesn’t live here anymore. The videois beautiful.
Unusual for me to go from one project directly to another, let alone three in a row, but this weekend is only a slight pause. I’ve been talking with Daniel Schlusser since 2009 or so, and even spent some time last year while I was in Vienna working with Hans Van den Broeck — and have just spent half an hour across two hemispheres on Skype for his new project, Ophelia Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.
Daniel’s one of my favourite theatre directors, so it’s a many-thrilled thing to be working with him, also to be working more in theatre (I seem to be slipping far beyond dance these days). Lily Paskas is also involved, and we shall be spending the next week with ropes, Shibari, Bondage, Ophelia, Gertrude …
The week-long rehearsal is also somewhat of an unknown as they are in Melbourne and I am in Brussels / will be in Berlin; hence Skype. It seems unproblematic to do it this way, though it is also an unknown—other things to consider, as well as a need for adaption to be able to work together.
I shall try and write a little here over the week also, maybe some photos too.
A rather crazy five days for me, dramas with friends far away and then Lily, Bonnie’s sister coming into the project. Today then was another morning of working on improvisation systems out in the black box (now with grey floor) of the Temperance Hall in South Melbourne (where apparently you can’t drink inside…).
A question of is this process of generating movement dehumanising, does it create dancers who are just interchangeable blobs, or does it lend itself to some radical apprehension of self through movement? Personally, the more I think about this approach to both generating movement and improvising, the more I find in each concept, an endless unfolding brought about by considering what a body is doing when it’s in a particular modality.
We were doing a bunch of 9-point stuff today, which is both rather basic, in the sense of being an exersise or task that intensifies specific understanding of a body or parts of a body in space, and also fiendishly complex for exactly the same reasons. I came to think the term ‘point’ is slightly misleading in that it implies an infinitesimally small dot of only one dimension and as such does not engender a intuitive visualisation of it having a front, back, sides, top, and bottom. So I described it instead as a small box that you could approach with a limb from any path or direction and then with whatever surface of that limb describe one surface of this box. This immediately lends itself to the idea of, say, describing one side of the box while approaching it from another, creating much more complex paths.
Back in Temperance Hall then, and talking about yesterday when Bonnie came out to the Centre with me to be shown around and also to see the VR Theatre. She was really quite awestruck by some of the visualisations of galaxies colliding and 3-D maps of the large scale structure of the universe, and just … I think that’s what’s important for me in this, or really in all my work, to make people feel something and want to know more, and to have that kind of reaction when seeing the visualisations in very convincing 3-D after talking about all this stuff for the past few days was really satisfying.
The previous night I’d been restless with thoughts, trying to deal with concepts that are far beyond my ability to grasp … I was thinking it’s like when you’re really fit from dancing and then go for a run for the first time in ages, and all the muscles are really strong in a particular way, but in running coordination they are so unfamiliar … the next day is pain. This is mostly my brain these two weeks. So I was thinking about Bonnie coming to the centre, and really agonising over where to start everything and the large monsters of ideas that I couldn’t reconcile when I thought it might be rather fun to try mapping the 3-D visualisations onto our bodies while in the VR Theatre.
Watching the animations with Bonnie it was so obvious this was a good idea.
So after two weeks, things are coalescing into … something. There’s a number of … ideas, things, areas, vaguely defined concepts that could become something, and simultaneously an idea of what it could look like when we get into Temperance Hall in late-February.
Firstly there is the literal data mapping, how to get various groups and clumps of data that can be represented in various 2- and 3-dimensional forms onto the rather inaccurate and prone to infirmity sack of bones and goo that is a body. This entails for me at least an endless plummet through research where one three-letter acronym like, say, SPH (that’s Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics) leads all the way back to Kepler and 2- and 3- body problems. mmm … elliptical orbits and eccentricities. That is to say, fun holiday reading.
Then simultaneous with this is the incomprehensibility of these papers and the research here. At best trying to read a paper can be an aesthetic experience where the mathematical symbols are the equivalent of calligraphy and there’s some kind of beauty in the whorls of glyphs and surrounding white space. This led me, circuitously, back to Forsythe and how ALIE/N A(C)TION was assembled. I think here, the interest lies not simply in the mechanisms invoked, but rather the process as alluding to ways to think of how choreography might be generated.
Veering off from this was a couple of days spent re-reading Leibniz’s Monadologie (the – duh – eponymous name of this piece) and being quite stunned by the logical genius necessitated in attributing a mechanical (of some description) universe to a divine creator. Which, via stalking Chris on the internet caused me to remember he also is rather fond of the history and philosophy of science. So there is this third thread that somehow manages to make sense of this, which was I suppose the original conceptual starting point of this piece.
Through this I have rather masses to read on the history of constellations, their mythology, changing cartography, and … Cartography. I suppose the fourth thread that is entwined with the third and also the first simply because in very real terms what is done here is a mapping of the universe on myriad scales, from large structure stretching over billions of light years where there is an explicit temporal duration in the map, to almost humanly apprehensible scales in mapping the barely attained structures of distant solar systems.
Finally there is something of the human in this, sort of like the anthropic principle, that is to say the universe is here because we’re here to observe it to be here. This is both something of the wonder and awe present in looking up and trying to make sense of what we see in the night sky that over millennia has led to astrophysics as it is now, and also the people who work here, who despite their interests that are so far from the mundane as to appear close to witchcraft nonetheless are human.
And with this then is trying to make all this somehow human, something that exists within the realm of what it means to be a person and … I guess this is one of my concerns in all my work.
Yesterday Bonnie was sitting here with me and I played her a video from the Hinode Observatory Satellite showing chromospheric loops on the sun, and had sunn0))) playing It took the night to remember from Black 1 and photos of them in concert …
Kinda good, no?
The past week I’ve been rehearsing with Ivan Thorley and a bunch of dancers for his film Forget me not then getting up at 4am for a dawn shoot and going to bed at 4am after a night shoot that was last night and so I’m feeling peculiarly delirious right now. It’s been lots of fun, Hadean volumes of smoke and haze, so much food I couldn’t say no to, fake blood and real dirt, learning to be crows, getting costumed and make-up’d by Anita from the wonderfully strange and beautiful Bird Girl (and dining on chicken curry and other delicacies) in Fitzroy, playing and dancing and then the filming, Cobie and an awesome crew smoke-machine inferno and Dantean parcans, more eating, freezingness and hysteria in semi-nudity 2am splitter-splttering around puddles and across cobblestones, in and out of an empty warehouse and Dickensian alleys off Moor St, I’ve forgotten quite a few things, but Ivan is flying to Italy, or is it Spain next week, and rumours of a quick cutting of film and then for everyone to see. (Some photos from my now unequivocally antiquated camera I have dropped far too often.)
Eat eat eat eat drink eat sleep beach sleep eat eat sleep eat drink sleep beach sleep eat eat eat … ummmm … I think that was Saturday and Sunday and Monday with all the Paskas family.
Bonnie is back from Sydney, tired and exhilarated after the season of Glow, and as I walked through Faulkner Park this early sun-hazed morning on my way to class I saw a beautiful girl with long tanned legs walking towards me. Of course she would have to be Lily who has only now returned from the distant north of Australia’s east coast. So, a reunion and talk of dance and other things and much happiness.
Not content with sleeping, Bonnie is performing again this weekend in Emily Fernandez and Frieder Weiß performance sense at 45 Downstairs also with Tina McErvale who not long ago returned from Europe and Adam Donovan. There is an audiovisual installation on both Friday and Saturday night at 7pm before the performance at 8 30pm.
I don’t know much beyond what’s on the flier, except Saturday night is also the last night of the Greyhound in St Kilda. I have crawled out of there on occasion (at least once with Luke George), and it has forever been my favourite pub, even though I don’t go there much anymore. I have a memory of arriving in the back bar at someone’s wedding also a karaoke night, and everyone was quite enthusiastic at the extra guests. The jukebox is the best, the carpet is sticky.