Fest — 6 (and other things)

Another week gone, into the fifth week in Vienna, and yesterday it seemed we found the show, Ramadan is into the second week, and I discovered Orphan Black. Yesterday was also our last day for the moment in Kasino Theater. The ImPulsTanz party is there tomorrow, so we’ve scooted back across town to Volks Oper for the next days, hopefully moving back to Kasino early next week as it’s empty and it makes much more sense to be using that space seeing we’ve arrived at set-costumes-lights-sound stage (and with that, Giacomo is also arriving).

Today Ivo veers off to rehearse X-on, which is being performed on Sunday, so my morning and early afternoon is unexpectedly free. Another arrival later this afternoon, is Dasniya, who is teaching Yoga & Shibari this weekend and next week. Hopefully rehearsals will fit that I can turn up also.

The last week in Kasino, then. We’ve made and discarded so many scenes, found several endings and similarly discarded them. Sometimes an idea would work sublimely once and then each subsequent time become more and more forced. The script has been progressively hacked shorter, though still sits around eighty minutes, but for the moment it’s only one part of the third act that falls over. Still, it’s a reliable occurrence that when we get one problem scene sorted, it affects other scenes, usually in different acts requiring more surgery.

Yesterday, Christian Bakalov arrived and watched us run through the whole thing. We’d been working on some ideas all day for delivering the text in the third act in an especially grotesque manner, and somehow – perhaps the desperation of an audience of one – caused everything to fall into some kind of order that for the first time looked like a performance. A very intense, occasionally hysterical performance.

And speaking of performances, Tuesday I got to see Ultima Vez’ What the Body Does Not Remember. Twenty-seven years since its premiere and not looking dated, which is a marked rarity in dance. It was well-impressive also, much throwing around of selves in the way Garry Stewart does at ADT — actually it reminded me of his stuff quite a bit, though more if it was mashed together with mid-’90s Frankfurt Ballet. It was also not infrequently annoyingly heteronormative, which I expect from Wim anyway, but it’s still tiring to watch. I did wish though I’d had that kind of training when I was at VCA in Melbourne, instead of the American Modern (and occasionally Post-Modern) Dance fixation, which never interested me and has had no bearing on what I do (other than avoiding it). Oh, and the dancers were fucking insane, just bloody brilliant, and keeping up that relentless intensity till the end … most impressive, especially from the front row.

Another event in the week was running out of books to read. I finished off Iain Banks’ last one, The Quarry (haven’t blogged it yet), which led to the discovery of Orphan Black. This came about on Sunday courtesy the wonderful Charlie Jane Anders on io9 (yes, I somewhat regularly read this site, but to be fair, mostly I look forward to what Charlie writes), and in the comments was a mention of this series, referencing Torchwood, and seeing I’ve already worked my way through Arrow, I thought, OK, perhaps just one …

Ten episodes later (and four of them last night), and this is now my favourite show. The science is mostly accurate and well-done – far better than most – the ethical and moral issues are handled very cleverly, and the script, the acting … it’s not Game of Thrones, the  universe isn’t that large so it doesn’t require such a monstrous budget, but really it’s the best science-fiction show I’ve seen since Firefly. Better than recent Doctor Who episodes also (and filmed in Toronto!).

I’m especially enjoying it because the lead role goes to a female which is still – especially in science-fiction – depressingly rare, and the main supporting role to a beautiful, makeup-wearing, femme-butch gay boy, Felix. I don’t think I’ve seen a role like his that hasn’t either been written as a caricature or as tragic, especially in the last few years when everyone ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ on TV is trying so very hard to show how very much ‘just like you’ they all are, desexed and only interested in marriage. And he even has sex with a large, black bear of a man; he’s the best bent role since Captain Jack.

Back to Sarah/Beth/Alison/Cosima/Helena/Katja/Rachel/etc, she’s a clone so that explains that, and all the clones are played uncannily by one actor. It’s disconcerting, especially when one plays another, which happens often. Obviously I have a thing for Cosima, who is the best queer-ish female I’ve seen on TV, super smart and so sexy (and her lover Delphine also, and yes, this is the second decade of the 21st century, we see bed action!), and maybe it’s just me, but somehow I think her character, dress, mannerisms, glasses, is based a bit on Lana Wachowski.

Anyway, Ramadan is into its second week and I’m still performing it in a pretend way, fasting as much as I can, doing Iftar, reading some about Islam, and yes, it’s basically Christianity (in any of its forms) or Judaism with the names changed, and the adherents behave in much the same way, mindless fixatation on social policing, obsessional literalism, hegemonic absolutism, the usual amounts of misogyny, heteronormativity, xenophobia … religion, basically. Amidst all this pathetic dross is something beautiful, an attentiveness to life, to self, the people around one’s self, to the physical world, to the philosophy of being, to restraint, humility, care, to pleasure, to joy. Ramadan carries this within it precisely because it’s an act that’s been performed in a codified manner by billions of people for thousands of years, which is why just doing this at any old time doesn’t have the same weight; it’s the sense and awareness of social participation that makes it such a profound personal experience. It’s also caused me to cook far more diligently, seeing there’s only one chance in the day to stuff my mouth.

Off to rehearsal now.

“Zürich is boring because I am not there and your unbuggered arse is missing me somethin’ rotten”

Oh beautiful darling Nigel, what can I say? I think you’d hate all the grief (but be secretly fucking smug at it all, or maybe want to know why you didn’t knock the Olympics off the front page), and I’ve got you in my guts like a plague so you’ll have to hear it from me also. If you’re not too busy rotting, that is.

I’ve been reading your emails. God, but I was vacuous. I probably should have been a little more attentive when you bought a glass of orange juice in a heart-shaped glass in the morning after all those weeks of chaos, and why the fuck I didn’t jump on a plane to Helsinki and miss some days of rehearsing?

It was the last day of teaching in ImPulsTanz (I wonder what you’d say about that? Probably that I had become a sell-out reactionary of the bourgeoisie, and did I think I was better than you? Something unprintably and laughably offensive anyway), and lunch was being assembled when I heard the quiet, excited clamour of a death. “Who?” I asked, when the huddle had turned itself outward, and the person behind me said your name.

Was it you who unzipped my top that first day, when we were rolled and pulled around the (now also gone) loft studio in Tanzhaus Wasserwerk? After a mere 10 days you’d teased out not a small amount of my life, secrets, loves, desires … and yes, all that we spoke of over rosehip tea on the Sunday Zürichsee ferry you gleefully announced I would make theatre out of on the Wednesday. It became all the people… and probably the best 15 minutes of performance I’ve ever made.

I don’t think anyone has had such an effect on me and my messing around in dance, personally, as you, and you are responsible for so much of my work since those weeks in Zürich — I even thought voice work was rubbish until you came along. I’m embarrassing you now, aren’t I?

Or maybe … I hadn’t really thought of you that much since the last time I was in Vienna, and saw a work of yours, hoped you might be in town also. Or rather, I’d thought of you often, talked about you and how you’d inspired me and pulled out absolutely the best work I’ve done, talked about how various things I might be working on came from you in one way or another; but really thinking about you … I just expected you’d be around until you were old and crapulous.

Your emails, god they are eye-wateringly, obscenely hilarious. And not enough. Fuck, Nigel, way too soon. Who’s going to save dance from the endless, turgid, dull hippy hell now that you’ve sodded off? You were a step into a bigger world for me, and I never want that to end.

I MISS NOTHING.
I AM NOTHING.
I AM BEFORE DEATH.
I’m poor and unemployed and unemployable. Loving it.
Fuck me when I’m ninety?

feasting on flesh

Direct from hanging out with Dita von Teese at some Russian socialite’s party in New York, the delightful Gypsy Wood is in Sydney at the Opera House Studio for Feasting on Flesh. Besides that I love Gypsy very much and know she is a kooky genius, she just looks so hot on the poster. Go and see it if you are in Sydney.

Feasting on Flesh

8 – 18 November
Presenter: The Studio at Sydney Opera House in association with Strut&Fret and The Famous Spiegeltent
Venue: The Studio

Join some of Australia’s foremost circus and physical theatre performers to devour a degustation menu of sautéed acrobatics, macerated music and freshly whipped visual delights.

Mouth-watering morsels of text by word-chefs including Humphrey McQueen, Stephen Sewell and Eddie Perfect will be served against a sumptuous backdrop of ultra-lavish sounds by Triple J feature artist, Gotye.

“Sinister cinematics and feelgood cocktail-bar soundscapes in this collage of noir jazz, French pop and lounge.” Sydney Morning Herald

This will be the most strangely amusing dinner you’ve ever attended. Mop up the gravy of laughter, suck on your funny bones and prepare to be pleased by performing zucchinis.

Here we cater for all tastes, persuasions and perversities, in a night of depravity where Peter Greenaway meets Peter Russell-Clarke.

— Sydney Opera House Studio

feasting on flesh
feasting on flesh