I forgot what I was going to say."
Some of our elements include:
- choreography to music as well as to traffic symbols
- a made-up biomechanical training etude called "emergency at the airport," which needs work
- a problem in dealing with stylized vs quotidien movement (i.e. when to use which and whether combining both at all will work)
- spanish tragicomedy (which is sorta like commedia pre-masks)
- a dress made out of a porn mag
- great electro soundtracks created from such sources as purring cats and a washing machine
- images, images, images, images... taped on the body, projected on the body or the set, taped to the wall; they're a total mess
- objects, objects, objects... another logistical mountain. What do you do with all the objects when you finish with them? Every single thing needs a solution. I now understand what I had thought was just a rather trendy "gradual pile-up of complete mess" stage design that seemed to be in a lot of shows that have a kind of kinship with performance art as well as theatre; they save themselves the headache of finishing with the objects.
- the order to develop a combined biomechanics and afro-dance warmup (!)
- seriously, these things just pile up
- The line "before rising to a new level of humanity, please read all instructions and comply with them"
- many beautiful moments and a lot of cheesy ones that need to (perhaps) settle into their stereotypes even deeper so they can become beautiful too
- Not really a clue as to what the costumes or staging are like
But a porn dress! How do you go wrong? Aside from the fact that I can't really move in it and that we need to build a new one every night, you can't go wrong at all!
At the moment the way we work is that the first hour is warmup and training exercises, which are either led by me (biomechanics and working on the etude) or Juha (afro warmup plus his choreography based on movements from our old show), plus a wee bit of work on singing. This is really hard to get through in an hour; I usually find that once you've warmed up the brain and the body sufficiently to do an etude at all, you've got ten minutes left. Which ten minutes, if you know the etude really well, is kinda sufficient since you'll kill yourself if you do it more than thrice in quick succession, but we're still hashing out the shifts of weight and the exact body positions, so it's a bit harried.
Oh, rewind. What's an etude? To make it an extremely short story, it's a training sequence developed for actors, in a similar vein as a kata would be in karate training: an exact sequence of movements to be executed over and over again, striving towards their perfection (which, being impossible, let's just say their improvement). You wouldn't ever use a kata in a fight: you would apply the principles you learn in it. It's the same with a biomechanical etude: you study the etude to learn, very deeply, the principles of balance, weight, mime, rhythm, breath, sensitivity, precision, and visual interest. It's not an aesthetic; it's like a barbell for your actor's body.
The shitty thing about studying biomechanics right now is that there's only a handful of people who teach it, a handful of people who use it, and they're really not in Finland at the moment. So unless I have time and money to travel to a workshop, it's kind of a self-study thing. The really brilliant thing about that is that with Juha and Akseli especially, I've taught them all I know and have quickly come to the end of my expertise, and so doing things like creating etudes for ourselves is an incredibly valuable way to challenge the principles.
I think the fastest I've ever led the warmup was 30 minutes, and I pulled a leg muscle that day. It's amazing how long it takes us. On the other hand, we do have a lot of bits in the show so far where the idea is to push a movement beyond our capacity: to work towards complete loss of power or balance, for instance, and that requires pretty much going all out in a way that spells instant injury if your body isn't prepped like a greased pig. The choreography we made with traffic symbols is one of these. We created movements corresponding to the signs, but the movements had to be too difficult to perform properly every time—more like you stick it once every ten tries. While the movements themselves can be quite pretty, what's way, way more compelling to watch is the look on the actor's face as they will every cell in their body towards stability in a given impossible position, and it's fabulously entertaining when they crash.
What that has to do with drama per se, I can't really say. We're wondering ourselves what the dramaturgical topography is like in Here speaks Elektra, and not so much even like are we looking at a relief map or a political map or whatnot, but what the hell hemisphere is this? Is it drama, theatre, performance art, dance, dance theatre, physical theatre, does it matter as long as you can hold it together? Can you hold it together if you don't really know what it is?
By the way: we finally got a grant. Like, our first real one. We are unbelievably happy about this.