Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Sunday, 2 November 2008
It is a different project in a different city / country every week for most of this autumn. Two weeks ago was The Lad Lit Project at the new Pazz Festival in Oldenburg. A excellent festival, particularly for a first incarnation, and a great time had by all.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Sunday, 21 September 2008
Monday, 15 September 2008
After seeing the show my friend and colleague Annie says: “What I like about it most is that I can see the ghosts of the other men on stage - the men who aren’t in it.”
My first guess is that she means the performers who aren’t in the show. But on further reflection, I think she is also referring to the men who’s stories are told, but who aren’t physically present. The men who inhabit the empty chairs lined across the stage. The men who the audience are invited to imagine themselves in the position of.
This puts in my mind the idea that I am a ghostwriter for these men. I interviewed A. and then retold his story in much the same way as a ghostwriter would when researching an ‘auto’biography. So in one sense, I am his theatrical ghostwriter.
But I didn’t go to him for his story. I went looking for our shared stories. I knew I wanted this particular chapter, a chapter about being excluded. I didn’t know it would be his.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Sunday, 31 August 2008
A nice week in Glasgow last week at the Sibmas Conference, discussing the problems associated with documenting and archiving intangible cultural heritage, specifically live performance.
4. Some Problems With Documentation
From the outset, an ongoing company debate about the documentation of live performance. We need to produce full length videos of our performances for promoters, archives and educational establishments. We also need 5 – 10 minute samplers to show when giving lectures about our work. We require them, practically, but these video documents don’t satisfy us creatively. They're constrained by having to represent the performance, but are some distance from the experience of seeing the work live.
Senseless 02:47:18 opened a door for us. We realised that we could carry on exploring the ideas and themes of a live project, even as we are fixing it in the process of documenting it.
The process of making these shorts has much in common with our process of making our live work. The core of Third Angel is the two Artistic Directors - Rachael Walton and myself. For each project we draw together a group of collaborators – performers, sound recordists, composers - some familiar and regular; some new. Christopher Hall, now Associate Artist, has been working with us since we set up in 1995.
In devising the work we map out a territory, an area of interest, set an agenda. We ask our collaborators to explore that territory with us, respond to what we've got, bring in new ideas. We generate far more material, more ideas, than we can use in the final piece. Many of these ideas will not be used because they don’t work, aren’t interesting enough, aren’t good enough. But some of them just don’t fit, through time or formal constraints; some are the beginnings of something else.
So even when a project is ready to start meeting an audience, there are still loose ends to be used, or new ideas nagging at us. Even as we tie a live performance to video in making the documentation we need, we are able to continue devising, trying out ideas in relation to the themes we are exploring, through making a digital short inspired by it.
We go in to the edit suite with rushes, much in the way we go into rehearsal with a bit of text or an idea for a section of the show. Rachael and I have already set a territory by making the live work; Chris begins his exploration within that territory, sometimes responding to seeing the work live, sometimes responding to making the documentation of it. He sets out to find something that interests him within the territory we have laid out.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Monday, 11 August 2008
Saturday, 9 August 2008
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
We’ve just agreed to revive Class of ’76 this August. Very quickly another couple of possible gigs fell in to place for early 2009. So, here I am, 8 years after the original process of tracking down my old classmates, still talking about it. Still telling the story.
Of course, it is very flattering to be asked to present the work after all this time, but we have said several times that *this* is the last time we perform this piece. So, why…? Well, I realise that it still speaks to me. And it seems to be in demand. The subject matter seems to endure. And it will be updated - a ‘revised edition’ - when we present it at the end of August.
Also, there seems to be a lot of it about at the moment. Unsurprisingly, when it was first touring Class of ’76 did get compared to Dave Gorman’s work. There seemed to be a developing area of ‘is it live art or is it stand up comedy’ work.
So, it was only matter of time before someone (thanks Noel) pointed out Friends Like These to me. Danny Wallace, who co-devised/wrote Are You Dave Gorman? has been looking for his old school friends. Interestingly, from our point of view at least, because he moved around a lot as a kid, he’s not using one class photo, but instead an old address book – and in Class of ’76 we compare the urge to track down down the kids in the class photo with the urge to phone people found in an old address book.
I liked Danny Wallace’s Join Me project very much, so I’m intrigued to know how Friends Like These turns out [I’m 50 pages in at the moment].
I’ve just started working with Mole Wetherell from Reckless Sleepers on a possible response to Class of ’76. We’ve been talking about how this idea of getting back in touch with school mates won’t be relevant to kids at school today – or indeed people who have left school in the last 5 years or so - because through Facebook, Twitter, personal mobile phone numbers (as opposed to numbers for parents’ houses) they’ll just stay in touch. Digital Natives.
When we started making Class of ’76, when I was finally getting to play detective, Friends Reunited didn’t exist. School Disco hadn’t become the "clubbing phenomenon of the new Millennium" yet. Logging on to Friends Reunited now [and finally even putting up a profile], I see that it would have been only limited help in finding my 1976 classmates now. But it would have got me started, and it would have made it easier, as the idea is so much more familiar.
Oh, and a few years ago there was a TV drama with Robert Carlyle called Class of ’76. That was about tracking down your old school mates, but by a serial killer, so there was only limited similarity.
Working with Mole on ideas for this project, we’ve been to visit his junior and secondary schools. Walking round both of them I was aware of the difference in experience for the two of us. For Mole these were the sites of specific personal memories; for me they were more neutral, generic. But they still sparked memories for me. Walking round someone else’s junior/infant school felt very familiar to me; I felt, yes, I’ve done this project, I’ve scratched this itch. I have my project through which I can talk about this. What surprised me was how different walking round a deserted secondary school felt; I had a real urge to go back to my secondary school, to walk through empty corridors and classrooms. This felt like a different project, a different itch.
We talked about the difference between those school experiences. How, although you change, you go into infant school a child, and come out of juniors still a child. Memories of this time are mainly of moments, repeated patterns perhaps. You go to secondary school a child, but come out, not an adult, but certainly a step closer to who you are now. A different person. Memories of this time are more of events and narratives. Changing relationships. Friendships. Infatuations. Love affairs, even.
As Mole told me these stories from his school days, I was aware that although we were in the school they took place in, I was picturing them happening in my school. Spending 7 years at the same school, at the time in your life when you are physiologically programmed to be absorbing information and learning, really etches that place onto your memory.
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Sunday, 6 July 2008