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AIN'T NOTHIN' TO IT BUT TO DO IT COLLABORATION AND REFLEXIVIT Y IN EXPERIMENTAL PERFORMANCE BY CHRISSY MARTIN AND CAITLIN MCMULLEN A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the Sponsorship of Stephen T. Miles
ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would first and foremost like to thank our advisor, Steve Miles, without whom this project would not have been possible Without Steve, New College would not have provided us with the education we needed in order to pursue our passions. We are eternally grateful to him for the support, concern, and friendship he has shown us these past four years. We would like to thank our ensemble members, B ecky Christoforo, Michael Floering, Ariel Hart, Randi Reams and Jeremy Zorn, for bringing such life to our vision. The dedication, creativity and openness these wonderful people embodied shaped our project almost as much as we did. Y ou guys are seriously awesome! We would also to thank our housemates, I zzy Maioriello Gal l us and Tacy Sallen, for lifting us up when we were down. Living in a house full of thesis students and getting out of it alive, with friendships intact, is a true feat! We love you, ladies of the Beet! We would like to thank Randi Reams and Tacy Sallen for being superb camera technicians, as well as the estimable Hannah Brown for her extremely professional photography. Lastly, we would like to thank Professors Leymi s Bolaos Wilmott and Margaret Eginton, who are 2/3 of the reason we were able to pursue performance projects at New College. Their guidance has been crucial and their personal work has been a true inspiration to us both.
iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgementsii Table of Contents...iii Abstract ... v Chapter 1: Introduction ...2 Creating an Ensemble.3 Aesthetic Autonomy and the Avant Garde .. ...4 Cage, Fluxus, Oliveros, and Smith.7 Sound and Movement15 Reflexivity and Ritual: The Efficacy of Art ..17 Social Implications20 Chapter 2: Fall '09 Workshopping and Rehearsals .25 Recruit ing Members..25 Rehears al Structure27 Grounding. .28 Soundscape 31 Leade r/Follower.32 Cons traints..34 Consensus and Conflict ..36 Further Developments38 Interplay of S ound and Movement.38 Connection with a Partner.. 41 Attention an d Awareness...42 Group Ritual...45 Interlude 1: Collaboration ... 51 Chapter 3: January Composing and Directing ... 58 G oals...58 Individual Pieces .60 Interlude 2: Impulse ..72 Chapter 4: Performance and Planning Event .82 A H appening'.82 The Spectator as Participant83 The Holy Moment'.85 Planni ng: Part 187 Planni ng: Part 290 Tes t Run...93 Performance Event ...97 Di scussion100 Chapter 5: Conclusion ...102 Fall '09: Workshopp ing and Rehearsals..102 January Compo sing and Directing103
iv Performance and Planning Eve nt............................. ......................105 Larger I mplications110 Writing Col laboratively.114 Appendix: Chrissy and Caitli n's Thesis Games....117 Works Ci ted...122
v AIN'T NOTHIN TO IT BUT TO DO IT : COLLABORATION AND REFLEXIV ITY IN EXPERIMENTAL PERFORMANCE Chrissy Martin and Caitlin McMullen New College of Florida, 2010 ABSTRACT This thesis is the written component of a performance project co conducted over the 2009 2010 academic year. This project was comprised of fall workshop rehearsals, compos ition of set pieces in January, and a final performance event. Working collaboratively with an ensemble of students, we structured improv isational games and created a distinct compositional vocabulary based on these games. We composed pieces individually as directors for a final performance, which took place on Sunday, January 31 st 2010. We did not begin this project with a specific end p roduct in mind. This process was highly reflexive; we allowed the experience of rehearsals to guide our structure. We constantly received feedback from our ensemble members and each other, as well as our thesis advisor, to ensure that the development of o ur project was based on the reactions of its participants. We argue that this collaborative, reflexive meth o d o f art making provides infinite opportunities, both within our particular work and within the context of the art world. This has the potential t o positively affect the artists and the participants involved as well as influencing the societal function of art in our modern world. Stephen T. Miles Division of Humanities
"Play is the most natural form of meditation." Pauline Oliveros, MMM (Meditation/Mandala Music) "How does a performance relate to life? One may speak of a performance as condensed, distilled, concentrated life an occasion when one's energies are intensely focused. One may also speak of performances as set apart, marked by various signals as distinct from ordinary routines of living. And one must speak of performances as embodying meaning. A performance is not necessarily more meaningful than othe r events in one's life, but it is more deliberately so; a performance is, among other things, a deliberate effort to represent, to say something about something" James L. Peacock, By Means of Performance "Where do we go from here? Towards theatre. th at art more than music resembles nature. We have eyes as well as ears, and it is our business while we are alive to use them. And what is this purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not dealing with purposes but dealing with sounds. Or the answer mu st take the form of a paradox: a purposeful purposelessness or a purposeless play. This play, howe ver, is an affirmation of life no t an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very l ife we're living, which is so excellent once one gets one's mind and one's desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord." John Cage, Silence
2 Chapter 1: Introduction In the spring of 2009, we knew that it was time to plan our se nior thesis projects. We each knew that we wanted to create an experimental performance, having studied and practiced this kind of art making since early in our time at New College. It was clear to both of us that we wanted to create a live performance, sp ecifically within the realm of experimental music (for that is our base of expertise). Live experimental music performance could mean almost anything; creating a strictly scored piece of vocal actions, constructing electronic noise making machines, or plac ing a large group of people in a room and have them all scream for a while (with purpose, of course). At first, the idea of doing a project collaboratively had not occurred to us, but as we discussed our ideas and goals, they seemed to intersect at multip le levels. We both wanted to create a performance piece out of something we practiced and composed ourselves, and we wanted that creative process to be as important as our writing about it. Many of our ideas about creating performance works overlapped, pa rtly due to having worked together on multiple other projects in the past. Because of these common ideas and goals, we agreed to embark on our thesis project together. We also have our own individual backgrounds and interests within the field of experiment al performance, and so we decided to set clear goals for ourselves, which we ended up internalizing to the point that during the actual creative process, we hardly had to think about them. Our basic plan for the project was to work collaboratively, to deve lop an ensemble of performers, to create performance pieces with that ensemble, and to plan and execute the performance event itself. We will now state each goal we set for ourselves and go into a discussion of our thoughts surrounding
3 that goal, including how pertinent theories and artists fit into our conception of the importance of the goal within our own work: 1. Create a cohesive performance ensemble 2. Question the conventions of traditional performance 3. Further develop the ways in which certain experimental artists have challenged these conventions 4. Explore the possibilities of the interplay between sound and movement 5. Balance our art and everyday lives so that the art we produce encourages that same balance for others who experience it 6. Acknowledge and use the inherent social implications of our work as material for our process Creating an Ensemble Perhaps the most important of our goals was to create a cohesive performance ensemble. This necessitated creating a space for explorat ion and play. We believe that it can be extremely limiting for a single artistic director to dictate what every perso n is to do and how to do it. This situation only allows for one person's vision to be brought to life, as every other person involved has t o defer to the director and everything is under that director's control. But when people work collaboratively, visions and talents can combine synergistically to produce something that has the potential to be greater than the sum of its parts. To this end, we set out to create an environment in our rehearsals that would foster creative exploration. We did this especially by framing most of the exercises and pieces we created in terms of games. These improvisational games fostered authentic interaction among st our ensemble members within supporting structures that encouraged the loosening of their everyday social personas, therein allowing the participants to approach the games and each other with more immediacy and interest. When we, the directors, started c omposing our individual pieces as well as the performance event as a whole in January, our ensemble was ready and willing to trust our artistic vision,
4 knowing that they too had a role in its creation. Our project as a whole was open ended in that we did n ot know what we would be doing more than a week in advance, and this made the exploration and play during rehearsals much more significant. The results of these activities helped us in determining where and how to guide the project, as well as how to struc ture further explorations. In this sense, the entire project was one big arena for play, in which we determined the rules as we went along. Out of this op en ended process of exploration we were able to develop a vocabulary with which to talk a bout sound and movement. We were able to use that vocabulary, which was based in the collective experience of the group, to compose set pieces that could be performed as such. Further discussion of this, especially regarding the c onstraint system, will be found in Chapter 3 of this document. Our next goal was to challenge the conventions of western performance, but in order for us to be able to discuss this, we first need to clarify what those traditions are. The following is a brief survey of the theory o f western art as it pertains to our particular project and how its function and production were coming into question in the 20 th century. A esthetic Autonomy and the Avant Garde The theory of aesthetic autonomy is integral to the tradition o f western art. Autonomous art is art that is fully contained within its own rules and bounda ries. The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy defines aesthetic autonomy as "the idea that art has its own sphere demarcated from other human activities and determines its own
5 principles or rules" ( "aesthetic autonomy" ). 1 In his book The Field of Cultural Production Pierre Bour dieu says, "the eye of the 20 th century art lover is a product of history" (256). He states that the level at which a piece of art i s considered "socially useful" depends on how autonomous the art object is. In Bourdieu's terms, all art is defined and considered effective only in its relation to everything in the western art world that came before it. Bourdieu states, "the artistic fie ld, by its very functioning, creates the aesthetic disposition without which it could not function" (257). There is an inherent problem with accepting the idea of the autonomy of art as a universal truth, just as there is a problem with accepting the idea that there is a universal, all encompassing "nature" of art. Peter Brger addresses this very problem in his book Theory of the Avant Garde : "the autonomy of art is a category of bourgeois society that both reveals and obscures an actual historical develo pment. All discussion of this category must be judged by the extent to which it succeeds in showing and explaining logically and historically the contradictoriness inherent in the thing itself" (36). The problem with aesthetic autonomy is that it separates art from the praxis of life,' which essentially obscures the historical and social conditions of the process of art. This can be clearly understood with reference to the historical transition of social organization, from the feudal system of the Middle A ges to the capitalistic/classist organization of the Renaissance. This was a transition of focus from people as an overall society to people as unique individuals, which allowed the artist to separate himself from his art. The ar tist as an individual repla ced his work of art as a symbo l of everything that defined that artist. This Romanticism of art was a process of "replacing the work of art as fetish with the 1 For more information on aesthetic autonomy, it is best to learn from the expert: Adorno, Theodor W., Gretel Adorno, and Rolf Tedman. ""Art, Society, Aesthetics"." Aesthetic Theory. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. 1 20.
6 fetish of th e name of the master" (Bourdieu 258). Artists were seen as creating art from an inwar d subjective standpoint, which cre ated the exclusive myth of the cult of genius.' This further foray into the world of autonomous art ideologically separated the artist and his world from greater society, which in reality has always encapsulated this art world. Brger argues that aesthetic autonomy permits art's detachment from a historical context, and this detachment in itself is a socially conditioned, historical process. Conditions that led to the radicalization of modernity had been in place f or a long time, but the acceptance of modern art as autonomous was a gradual and drawn out process. Only in the 20 th century did people begin to realize that western art was just as socially constructed as non western art. Once artists began to see themsel ves in the context of greater society, they started to ques tion the very institutions that defined them. It was clear from Duchamp's "Fountain by R. Mutt," that he was directly expressing the irony of the art world by legitimizing an otherwise ordinary obj ect as an art object. Brger says that for avant garde art, "apartness from the praxis of life, which had always been the condition that characterized the way art functioned in bourgeois society, now [became] its content" (48). European avant garde movemen ts such as the Dadaism, Surrealism and Futurism attempted to negate the idea that art is unassociated with life. The idea was not that artistic content should be socially significant, but rather that as a whole, art should have a more practical societal fu nction. This would in turn determine not only the particular content of each work, but the effect that art had on larger society. The art world, however, completely absorbed and legitimized the avant garde. In this way, the historical value of the avant ga rde was realized and simultaneously disvalued through that realization. The commodification of art, which also emerged during the 20th
7 century, changed the function of art in society. Commodity aesthetics "treats form as mere enticement, designed to prompt purchasers to buy what they do not need. Here also, art becomes practical but it is art that enthralls" (Brger 54). Brger says that the commodification of art fails because it is a "false sublation of art as an institution," (54) so even though it makes art function as practical to the general public, that practicality is a lie. 2 Telling people they need to purchase something that is not truly necessary to living every day life is a way to make profit; it is not concerned with giving people something prac tical. Cage, Fluxus, Oliveros, and Smith This d iscussion up until now has been a necessary foundation to both understanding and confront ing issues we as artists face in our modern day society. In our study of the avant garde, particularly in terms of experimental music, we have been influen ced by four artists or groups of artists who have similarly tried to understand their position within the historical context of the art world, and question the traditions that have arisen from that context. These artists are John Cage, Fluxus, Pauline Oliveros and Stuart Saunders Smith. Composer, artist, philosopher and writer John Cage (1912 1992) thought radically about the change of music in western society and drew strong conclusions about art as a who le, how it was regarded, and why. Cage's art took the ideas from Integral Serialism to a whole new level. This movement was a response to the general withering of the authority of tradition in modern art. Integral Serialists were starting from a "tabula ra sa," 2 For more information on commodity aesthetics: Adorno, Theodor W., and Max Horkheimer. "The Culture Industry: E nlightenment as Mass Deception." Dialectic of Enlightenment. London and New York : Verso 1997 120 167
8 or blank slate, 3 by intentionally controlling every aspect of their compositions. They also tried to remove all intention from their work in order to question the assumption that art can have meaning outside of itself. The art world has continuously b een involved in a process of rebelling against what was previously understood. The next step in the modern direction was to completely relinquish the control of the artist's sensibilities over compositions. At the time when Cage began composing, th e exclusive aim of art was for artists to be "able to affirm their mastery over that which defined them, that is, the form, the technique in a word, the art" (Bourdieu 265). Cage believed in relinquishing control, or trying to let sounds be themselves. He did not want to produce a clearly defined art piece. In fact, he did not want to control any aspect of how his works were received. Cage tried to remove the intention of being expressive in his compositions, attempting to completely negate emotional expre ssion. His pieces may provoke emotion, but they are not intended to provoke a specific emotion. Cage emphasized the "here and now" when performing, that the performers and the audience should be more focused on the moment in which the performance is occurr ing and not what the performance should mean. Cage believed in chance but not randomness, and he blurred the lines between what is and is not considered "art" with pieces such as 4'33 (1952) 4 and the Song Books (1970). 5 Cage was interested in discovery, n ot in expressing what he already felt. He wanted to create 3 For more information on Integral Serialism: Morgan, Robert P. Twentieth Century Music: a History of musical style in Modern Europe and America New Yo rk and London: WW Norton and Company. 1991. 333 4. 4 This piece is a three movement work, for any instrument, in which the performer is instructed not to play their instrument for the duration of the piece. 4'33" refers to the duration of the premier perfo rmance of th is work by pianist David Tudor on August 29, 1952, in Woodstock, New York 5 The Song Books is a collection of 92 solos of four types: songs, songs with electronics, theatrical per formances, and theatrical performances with electronics. The score employs various nonstandard notations, most of which require the performer to interpret and realize his own version of the solo.
9 circumstances that would help him experience something that he himself could not have imagined. He tried to withdraw his subjective will from the compositional process. He fully believed "that whic h simply occurs is richer than what is planned" (Brooks 63). Cage rejected philosophical idealism, or the idea that art is universal. Asserting that western art is universal assumes the privilege of being familiar with the institution of that particular ar t world. Cage was trying to free himself of this idealistic view of western art. Experiencing a Cage piece requires "a kind of listening that brings no expectations to the sounds other than allowing them to simply be" (Shulti s 32). Cage wished to expel the control of intention and the denial of the existence of non intention. His pieces always involved an element of discovery through the discipline of the performer. He said that "one may give up the desire to control sound, clear his mind of music, and set about discovering means to let sounds be themselves rather than vehicles for man made theories or express ions of human sentiments" (Cage 9). In actuality, there is no way to completely remove all intention from a piece of music or art, because the very na ture of art is that it is meant to express something which ordinary communication cannot express. In the end any choice an artist makes, even if the choice is to have no choice, is a manifestation of intention. However, in trying to negate intention comple tely while still working within the confines of the art world, Cage was questioning the definitions and presuppositions of the nature of art. Cage was reacting to all that he previously knew about the art world, that the move of art "towards a greater auto nomy is accompanied by a sort of reflective and critical return by the producers on their own production" (Bourdieu 264 265).
10 Cage remained an artist who produced "art work;" his performances and pieces were sold for profit, but the artists of the Fluxus movement, on the other hand, not only questioned but rejected the idea of commodification of art outright. Fluxus works commented on the idea that art is a product of life and of society and it will never be totally separate. Dick Higgins, a compos er, writer and member of the original Fluxus group, founded in the 1960s, explained the stance of the Fluxartist in comparison to other more traditional artists: "we chose to leave life alone, to observe it as a biological phenomenon, to watch it come and recede again, and to comment on it and enrich it in or with our works" ( A Fluxus Reader 222). In Fluxus works, there was almost no distinction between art life and real life, and this was underlined by elements of ironic playfulness. Fluxus works usually h ad non traditional written scores that were focused and simplistic: 1969 Something Else Press These works usually did not contain any intentional social implications. The above sco res are taken from Dick Higgins' essay, Games of Art which gave th e rules and let the individual performer work out his or her own performance, since he believed the performer had a better handle on what he was capable of than the director. The idea was to "establish a community of participants who are more conscious of behaving in
11 similar ways than they would be if they were acting in a drama" ( foew&ombwhnw 39 40). Higgins expressed a strong dissatisfact ion with the reception of avant garde art because it necessitated previous knowledge of art history and theory; essenti ally, most avant garde art was still blatantly defined in terms of its aesthetic autonomy: "For most avant garde art, one needs to know quite a considerable amount of art history and even technical procedure in order to get one's bearings enough to be able to fuse one's horizons and experience pleasure" ( A Fluxus Reader 234). Fluxevents, Fluxfeasts, Fluxconcerts, Fluxfestivals: all works created by Fluxartists were meant to be completely accessible to the general public. Higgins coined the term intermedia which differs from mixed media in that media are fused together to create a completely new form, rather than juxtaposing two or three forms in one art piece, such as in a ballet, opera or play. These intermedia works fall between sculpture and theater, or music and installation, which allows for more portability and flexibility. Higgins states that intermedia is already present in all fine arts; a play involves bringing separate forms together to create a whole, such as acting, set design, cos tume, and lighti ng. However, for Fluxartists continuity rather than categorization is the hallm ark of our new mentality" ( foew&ombwhnw 27). And so it is more "reasonable to regard the use of intermedia as an irreversible historical innovation, more compar able for example, to the development of instrumental music, than, for example, to the development of Romanticism" ( A Fluxus Reader 233). Pauline Oliveros is another artist who strives to transcend the norms of conventional art through her work Sonic Meditations (1973) is certainly one of her most revolutionary compositions. Through this work, Oliveros attempted to favor experiential
12 utility of the piece over its aesthetic autonomy. Sonic Meditations is a series of sonic games that can be consi dered concentration or meditation exercises more than performable pieces of music. The games are meant to focus the players' particular attention to a certain task or idea and overall awareness of their sonic environment. Through Sonic Meditations Olivero s invites participants to both imagine sounds and to notice sounds as they are occurring. This collection of compositions, like many other experimental music pieces, creates a potential space in which its participants can play and explore. Oliveros' projec t was to create a performance environment and experience that was reflexive for both the audience and the performers in that it negated that dichotomy and treated all involved as participants. The following is an excerpt from the introduction of Sonic Medi tations : With continuous work some of the following becomes possible with Sonic Meditations: Heightened states of awareness or expanded consciousness, changes in the physiology and psychology from known and unknown tensions to relaxations which gradually b ecome permanent. These changes may represent a tuning of mind and body. The gr oup may develop positive energy which can influence others who are less experienced. Members of the Group may achieve greater awareness and sensitivity to each other. Music is a welcome by product of this activity. 1974 Smith Publications Sonic Meditations invites engagement with objective space and sensation as well as intersubjective social relationships. It necessitates both internal processing an d contact with the empirical world. "The meditating subject is called out into relationship with the other and music moves beyond aesthetic absorption to social engagement" ( Miles 11 ). She includes meditations and games for both groups and individuals in d ifferent
13 combinations of objectivity, subjectivity, and intersubjectivity of the players ( Miles 5). 6 This composition in particular does not lend itself to actually being performed in front of a separate audience. Sonic Meditations has usually been presen ted either in the form of an interactive lecture or a group workshop, which again lends itself more to participation rather than separation of participants (performers) and non participants (audience). Stuart Saunders Smith is a composer and musici an whose work goes one step further than Fluxus in terms of intermedia, creating what he terms trans media compositions': T rans media compositions, which extend beyond the multi mixed and inter media types, notate only process leaving materials and th eir detail to the pe rformer/composer... It' s like inventing a lang uage of only verbs, no nouns...' Smith's analogies to verbs (process) and nouns (sound, form, movement, text, etc.) clarify that trans media composition is directe d at how' art is put toge ther (Welsh, 97). Transmedia compositions, such as Transitions and Leaps which we have performed in two different realizations, invite performers to become composers, in that they must bring their own material to a score of abstracted processes. This ki nd of composition, which uses the creative process as its material rather than musical notes or specific body movements, is as such extremely reflexive in terms of the norms for making art, but also in terms of the individual's creative process. Smith als o delineates three different kinds of thinking that are very useful for performers: Fast Thinking gets us out of the way of trucks barreling along as we cross streets. Fast Thinking is nonverbal, intuitive thinking... Such thinking must be non verbal. Wor ds would slow down our reaction time. The side benefit of such thinking for creative people is it can also be used 6 For further discussion of these concepts an d their applica tion to Oliveros' work, see Miles' "Objectivity and Inters ubjectivity in Pauline Oliveros' Sonic Meditations" Perspectives of New Music Vol. 46 No. 1 (Winter 2008): 4 38.
14 for non linear, instantaneous comprehension of a whole. Such thinking radiates in all directions with extreme speed. Fast Thinking can help u s leap great conceptual distances between ideas. In Fast Thinking all implications are comprehended at once. Slow Thinking is verbal, logical, linear, rational thought. Words slow thinking down. Words are like weights. Words follow a line like an army sing le file. Slow Thinking is wonderful for detail work and developing Fast Thinking. We often start a composition with Fast Thinking and use Slow Thinking to develop and finish it... Taste Thinking is the intelligence of the senses. Taste Thinking is used to check if a n idea is sensuously compelling (Transitions and Leaps, 16 17). These different ways of thinking balance out the creative process. In making any piece of art, both planning and execution are necessary. Planning involves fast thinking, to get thi ngs jump started, but mostly involves slow thinking, which allows for details to be worked out and structures to be made. Once the initial plan has been laid, fast thinking tends to take over; the artist has to, working within the plan she created, make qu ick, intuitive decisions about what to do and how. If everything an artist did was slow thinking, very few artists would actually ever finish anything because deciding every minute detail in terms of logic and rationality is very time consuming. Of course the creative process is individual to every artist, but almost always, there is this dialectical balance between fast and slow thinking, between logic and intuition. Taste thinking is the ruler of all these decisions. Taste thinking is that indescribable, unquantifiable force that makes us like certain things and disdain others. No matter what solutions slow thinking and logic provide, taste thinking often overrules them in the final moment. For an artist, taste thinking is the aesthetic compass, pointing t he way and providing perspective. There are those who have questioned the benefits and even legitimacy of allowing taste to be such a large determining factor in creating art, namely Cage. However, he could never fully succeed in his attempts to neutraliz e and remove his own taste and
15 intention, because simply deciding to compose a piece of music is a manifestation of intention. No matter how much he left up to chance, he had to make decisions about certain parameters of his compositions. It could be said that his taste (certainly his intention) involved negating his own aesthetic sensibilities. We do not see the same necessity of striving to overcome our own intentions. For us, taste is what we rely on to guide our work, of course balanced out by slow and fast thinking. We used a lot of fast thinking and taste thinking, especially in rehearsals and in creating our pieces. The slow thinking, for us, came as we planned out the rules of our games, and the overall arc of the development of our project. Sound a nd Movement In the context of western performance art, sound and movement have not sustained a very dynamic relationship. Typically, a piece of music is written, and then a dance is choreographed to fit it. In social forms of dance, the dance and the music co evolve to inform each other, such as in salsa, ballroom dance, etc. In more non traditional performance, the relationship is not even this direct; the music and the dance are composed separately, and then fitted together, such as the piece Points in Sp ace (1986). In this piece, choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage created their pieces separately, without knowledge of what the other was creating. The only parameter the artists shared was the duration of the piece; the dancers rehearsed t he piece without ever hearing Cage's score. The two pieces were put together only at the final performance. In this type of relationship, there is no communication between the two art forms, so when they come together it is more of a juxtaposition than a f usion. In the more
16 traditional form, wherein either music or dance is created out of or in response to the other (think of Swan Lake ), there is a sort of unidirectional communication. The dance takes a certain amount of its qualities from the music. This i s a perfectly fine way for sound and movement to interact, but in light of our experiences with less conventional performance, we began to ask ourselves whether there could be more of a dialectical relationship between the two. This arrangement has the pot ential to beget far more interesting results than the simpler version of the exchange. In exploring this idea, more questions arose: What qualities do sound and movement share? What is the difference between sound and movement as phenomena? At what point d o sound and movement become indi stinguishable? How do we define sound' and movement' ? Can a translation between sound and movement yield intelligible results? Many of these questions we explored through the creation of our games. Almost all of our games allow a dialectical relationship between sound and movement, a kind of translation from one to the other. This relationship is demonstrated in the process of continuing and prolonging the relevance and immediacy of a single gestural impulse. This gesture, expressed, for instance, through sound, can be perpetuated indefinitely by repeated translation from sound to movement and back. This kind of exercise was a completely new experience to almost everyone in our ensemble, which made our process more exciting enriching, and challenging for all. This interplay between sound and movement helped us as directors to create a distinctive vocabulary with which we were able to develop our games even further.
17 Reflexivity and Ritual: The Efficacy of Art The rehearsa l process is often designed specifically to transform individuals into a cohesive, comfortable group. But also through this process arises the potential for personal transformation of individuals. Richard Schechner a n experimental theater director who has written on performance theory cross culturally, bringing his work into an anthropological context, describes a continuum of performance with entertainment on one end and efficacy on the other. Efficacy here refers to a performance that is intended to brin g about a transformation, usually of the participants involved. The continuum is not mean t as a strict binary definition; rather it is a framework within which to situate any given performance, ritual or otherwise. Every performance has elements of both ef ficacy and entertainment, but usually one is highlighted over the other ( Performance Theory 130). Schechner's efficacy entertainment' braid, shown in the historical co ntext of western theater.
18 In the above diagram ( Performance Theory 133), Schechner broadens this framework in order to look at the history and development of we stern performance fr om the 1500' s through to the present. He asserts that efficacious performance always ex ists, and so does entertainment based performance, but that one usually has ascendancy over the other in general withi n larger society. He states, "W hat the braided mode l [of efficacy and entertainment] depicts is a dynamic system yielding change, not necessarily improvements or decay. At all times a dialectical tension exists between the efficacious and the entertainment tendencies" ( Performance Theory 134) Many artists in the last half century, including those discussed previously have striven to move away from autonomous art and toward art that is infused with, not separate from life. T hese artists are concerned with moving towards the efficacious side of the efficac y entertainment braid, and in so doing sweeping others along with them. We have placed ourselves within the context of these artists in doing our project. One means of re approaching art in order to bring it back towards efficacy is an active engagement i n reflexivity. A performance which bring its own means of production into the thematic material of the presentation, or even goes so far as to comment on the historical and social context of art making in which it exists, can be both self referencing as we ll as connected to a larger cultural critique. Schechner refers to Gregory Bateson, a British anthropologist, in his description of this trend in performance: This self referencing, reflexive mode of performing is an example of what Gregory Bateson called metacommunication' signals whose 'subject of discourse is the re lationship between the speakers' ... As such theater's reflexive phase signaled loudly that the spectat ors were now to be included as speakers' in the theatrical event. Thus it was natural that reflexivity in theater went hand in hand with audience participation. Furthermore, all this attention paid to the procedures of making theater
19 was, I think, an attempt to ritualize performance, to make theater yield efficacious acts ( Performance Theor y 131). Schechner introduces two key ideas in this quotation. One concerns the role participation plays in helping an audience to experience a performance with more consciousness of the event and its creation, as well as their own role within it. Sometim es this is explicitly stated to the audience, as it was in our performance. We did this in an effort to encourage our audience to actively find their own understanding of how they fit into the event. This is in line with our priority of questioning perform ance conventions, and helping others to do the same. The other key concept Schechner refers to is the ritualization of the ater. He asserts, "T he essential ritual action in theater takes place during rehearsals" ( Performance Theory 203). This is due to the rehearsal process of continually reworking and reconfiguring the m aterial of a performance until natural sequences' of behavior are transformed into composed sequences' (207). It is through this process that performers experience personal transformation. And depending on the kind of activity undertaken in rehearsals, this transformation has the potential to reach beyond the performance work at hand and into the rest of a performer's life. It is this sort of experiential learning, balanced between art maki ng and living life, that we are interested in fostering as composers and directors, and this is a major way in which we are connected to those experimental performers who have worked to bring art back to life. The f ollowing excerpt from Schechner' s Between Theater and Anthropology expresses the way in which our thesis project is a two fold expression of our artistic sensibilities; the compositions, and what we chose to transmit to our performers:
20 The way a particular teacher passes on what is learned, modif ied by his/her own experiences, is the way oral traditions conserve and modify their substance simultaneously. Teaching by direct acquisition means teaching only what one has actually, physically, concretely learned or invented, and that means sharing and transmitting a particular style. In this way, the 'self expression' of a particular artist is bound up as much in how and what he teaches as it is in his performing. And often enough... this self expression, this style, is a way of living just as it is a w ay of performing. It incorporates an outlook on the world... so that it is not only an aesthetics but a sociology, a cosmology, and a religion. These values are transmitted directly a s part of performance knowledge (240). In this way, what we taught our performers, and the way in which we shared this knowledge, was as much a part of the making and expressing of our art as the final performance was. 7 Social Implications Another one of our goals was to acknowledge and bring attention to the various social situations and implications inherent in our work and in every day life. Sociologist Erving Goffman has greatly contributed to social theory through the study of symbolic interaction, with particular connections to dramaturgy. In his book, Behavior in Publ ic Places: Notes on the Social Organizations of Gatherings Goffman explores what is considered socially acceptable behavior and what is not, and how the two inform each other. Goffman is particularly adept in his descriptive analysis of symbolic social si tuations, and has therefore been very useful in our endeavors to acknowledge the social dynamics present in our process. Goffman's definitions of his own terms must be discussed before going any further: 7 For further discussion of efficacy entertainment, see "From Ritual to Performance a nd Back". This essay is from and overlaps with the other essays in Schechner's book Performance Theory For further reading on the experience of the performer and spectator, as well as performance training and preparation, all considered through the lens o f several different, culturally specific traditions and productions, see his earlier book, Between Theater and Anthropology
21 gathering a set of two or more individuals in each others' immediate presence (18) situation a "full spacial environment" in which any person who enters will become a member of the gathering within that space (18) social occasion provides a structuring social context in which many gatherings and/or si tuations can occur (18) face engagement all those instances of two or more participants in a situation joining each other openly in maintaining a single focus of cognitive and visual attention what is sensed as a single mutual activity, entailing prefe rential communication rights" (88) What Goffman cal ls an accessible engagement is a situation in which a face engagement must be carried on in the presence of uninvolved bystanders. This means that no physical, conventional, or situational bound ary is present that would cut the engagement off from nonparticipants. From Goffman's perspective, we can give an example of two women striking up a conversation while waiting in line to use the bathroom: a common situation in everyday life. This particula r engagement could be accessible because the women are in a public space, and their proximity to other women in line could potentially open up the conversation to include more women. This potentiality for openness is the key; it is neither obligatory nor p rohibited that any other woman enter into the conversation, or even listen in for that matter Goffman says that when there is a face engagement acc essible to nonparticipants, these bystanders are inevitably participating in the event, even if they are not sharing the same facial engagement The woman next to the two who are having the conversation in line will inevitably hear and see what is going on, and she also has the ability to be heard and seen herself. Each person present in the accessible engagemen t is transmitting information about herself to everyone else while at the same time receiving information from all others present. "It is this possibility of widely available communication, and the
22 regulations arising to control this communication," say s G offman, "that transforms a mere physical region into the locus of a sociological ly relevant entity, the situation" (154). Any space in which there is an open interaction occurring between two or more people turns into a sociologically relevant happening be cause of its potential for further engagement. Goffman says that "by maintaining accessibility to all those present, one shows that the gathering is significant enough in itself to ensure that any participant, merely by virtue of his participation, has a r ight to obtain attention and an obligation to give attention to any other participant" (195). So even a chance encounter between two women in a bathroom line creates both a situation and social significance to that situation which is inherently understood by every other person present. In creating a potential space for play and exploration, forming a tight knit group of performers, and then presenting what we created to a room full of nonparticipants,' we were trying to make our process wholly accessible t o each sphere of social occasion in which we were presenting it. The way an individual is obliged to demonstrate involvement in a situation is through modulations of her involvement within a situation. In using the interaction of sound and movement as a me dium of communication in our games, we were trying to embody the reality of the social situation it created. In embody ing this reality, we were attempting to bring awareness of these accessible engagements (the games we played and the pieces we performed) to everyone present That knowledge could then potentially carry through to everyday life, where in any gathering, situation, or social occasion, "the joint social life sustained is the embodiment of the occasion itself" ( Goffman 196).
23 Thus, our project r eflects upon itself on multiple levels : the embodiment of communication through the media of sound and movement, the awareness of the social situation each game brings to its players, bringing awareness of the embodiment of these social situations to the a udience, and the potential for further awarenes s of social situations in every day life. "A common distinctive character is given to the social life sustained in situations, regardless of the uniqueness of the larger span of social life in which each gather ing is embedded and of which each is an expression" ( Goffman 197). Through our project, we attempted to bring attention to the universality of the social situation through engaging everyone present, whether in group rehearsals or our performance event, in multiple levels of social awareness. Although we had all of these ideas in mind at the beginning of our project, we in no way defined them as clearly then as we must now, in order to make our intentions understood. While ou r process was very reflexive we spent little time managing our progress in terms of these initial goals and concepts. We basically trusted that whatever we wanted to have happen through our project would if we truly intended it to happen We did not have to worry about o ur intentions showing through our process because in the end, we wanted our process to speak for itself. Up to this point we have discussed much theoretical context for our project, but it must be understood that all of these ideas came naturally to us; w e had already internalized all of these goals before we even started. Only upon reflection have we been able to fully understand where our ideas came from, why they were so important to us, and how they manifested through our process. We have realized tha t all of our initial intentions, whether they were conscious or unconscious, came from what we have learned throughout our studies these past four
24 years. In the next chapters, we will discuss our personal experiences with our particular process as well as insight we gained from our ensemble and our audience in the final performance
25 Chapter 2: Fall '09 Workshopping and Rehearsals In this section, we will discuss the progress of our group rehearsals during the fall of 2009. We w ill first discuss the process of recruiting our ensemble and structuring our rehearsals, including specific games we created that hold particular importance. We will then go through the concepts we worked with and the skills our ensemble developed. This w orkshop phase of ou r project was the mos t gratifying and exciting phase. Recruiting Members The first step of our project was to recruit members for our ensemble. Because New College of Florida has a rather small student body, those involved in performanc e are few and far between, and since we are personally familiar with most of those students, it was relatively easy to narrow down our choices. We hand picked our ensemble according to their talent, interest, commitment and level of experience with experim ental performance. We chose three women and two men, which along with the directors made seven ensemble members. Out of the initial five that we chose, only two stuck with us until the final performance at the end of January. One of our women dropped out a lmost immediately one of our men left us about half way through the fall semester, and another of our women unexpectedly had to step out at the beginning of our January rehearsals. Finding and recruiting suitable new members became a logistical issue cent ral to our main aim of creating a cohesive and coordinated ensemble. Just as helping the initial group members feel comfortable and willing to reflect openly about our process was extremely important, it was almost even more important to carefully initiate new members so that they would not feel excluded upon entering an
26 already established group The first female replacement went relativ ely smoothly, as we had only held one or two rehearsals before having to find a new member. It also helped that we had wo rked with this new member in creative artistic s ettings previously, so she was com fortable working with us Recruiting the new male member was more difficult, however, because we did not personally know anyone that could replace our old member. By the time we needed him, we were already 2 months into our fall rehearsals, so we knew t his new member would be a few steps behind the rest of the group at first. This slowed down our creative process as directors and the development of the group's comfort with th e games we had already created, as well as any new games we wanted them to try. Thankfully, through pitching our project to one of our professor's experimental music classes, we were able to find a male who was both open minded about our project and extrem ely interested in the concept of process based performance work. The collective development and growing maturity of our preexisting ensemble helped our newest member acclimate to the work much more quickly than t he original members did at the beginning of the semester. As for the last member to drop out of our group, she left us so abruptly and so late in our process that we decided it would be best not to accept a new member. S o we started out with an ensemb le of seven members and ended with six. These t hree personnel turnovers taught us to be flexible and willing to accept setbacks that were out of our control We had to set up our group to accommodate these uncertainties. We were all consistently reflecting on the process, during as well as outside of r ehearsals, and consequently feeding information back into the group through this reflection. This meant that the constant flux of ideas, games, and ensemble members
27 progressed with a certain fluidity that other more traditional performance models would sim ply have been unable to withstand. The next step in planning and carrying out our project after establishing a solid group was to brainstorm raw concepts of how we wanted to start this process. Raw is a key word here because we knew from the beginning tha t our initial ideas would develop and change rapidly with each new rehearsal, meeting with our advisor, and conversation with each other. Rehearsal Structure In the fall of 2009, we held weekly rehearsal s that revolved around playing the games we created and were creating for our group. There was a brief period of warm up, then we would perform the "Grounding" ritual (explained later in this chapter), and star t playing our games. At the beginning of the semester, we, the directors, usually play ed games along wi th the rest of our ensemble. Near the end of fall, we were more focused on watching our ensemble play than participating with them. After each rehearsal, we would ask our ensemble members questions about their opinions on specific games, ideas, or concepts. Then, at the beginning of the next rehearsal, we would sit down with our group and ask for their feedback from the last rehearsal. In this way, every rehearsal started and ended with receiving or giving commentary, critiques, and general opini ons about what we were doing and why. This greatly informed our process It ensured that we were doing well as directors in the eyes of our performers, but it also broke down the separation between us, the directors, and them, our ensemble members. It ga ve each
28 individual in the group the chance to voice his opinion and maybe change the structure of a game or the way the instructions were written. It should be noted here that we, the directors, did not tell the rest of our group our underlying concepts for the process we were creating together. Part of the reason for this was that we were creating these games without much emphasis on the concepts behind them; we simply wanted to use the materials that were available to us in the given moment, and not so mething that was completely pre determined. We wanted our process to be malleable. But we did not tell our group everything about this process because part of its efficacy, for us, the directors, would depend on how much our ensemble members would be able to understand our concepts through the experience and the practice of our games. We wanted the meaning of our structure to show through its realization rather than its definition. This, again, takes us back to the idea of process as product; we wanted o ur process to speak for itself, and so the best way to test this idea was to see if our performers could understand where we were coming from not through words or explanations, but through action. So the feedback they gave us was absolutely essential to t his process, not only to make sure we were showing them what we wanted to show them, but to inform and guide our structure as we were creating it. Grounding We decided that the first thing we should do at every rehearsal would be a warm up we called "Grou nding." The goal of this warm up is a gradual shift from individual meditation, to connection with each group member individually, to a realization of the group as a whole. This was the first step in creating a performance grounded in the ritual
29 of rehears al. Having rehearsals at the same time every week in the same place was already a ritual, a practice to which traditional performance groups usually adhere. It is a necessary and almost sacred enterprise for a performer one rehearses hours and hours longer than the actual length of time it takes to perform whatever is being rehearsed. We w anted to highlight this practice by standardizing the beginning of each rehearsal. Through the exercise "Grounding," we were telling our ensemble that they were entering a sacred space separate from everything else going on in their lives. The meditative aspect of this ritual helped our performers be calm and supple for any new ways of thinking or acting which we could introduce to them. It forced members to stop and focus on receiving information from their bodies, minds, and overall environment. This focus has been one of the most important aspects of our process. In "Grounding," once an individual feels centered and relaxed within herself, she must sit u p and hold each e nsemble member' s gaze for as long as she feels comfortable. In everyday life, holding someone' s gaze while not conversing with them is generally uncomfortable for both parties: think of being in a subway car and staring at someone until he catches your gaz e. This usually leads the initial starer to back off and focus his gaze somewhere else. It could be considered socially unacceptable for someone to stare you straight in the eyes without initiating some sort of talk, which would most likely lead to embarr assment of one or both parties. In his book, Behavior in Public Places, Erving Goffman states that the eye has a uniquely sociological function: "the union and interaction of individuals is based upon mutual glances. This is perhaps the most direct and pu rest reciprocity which exists anywhere" (93). We wanted our performers to stare at each other in the face without talking in order to make them feel intimate with each
30 other in a unique way, a way that they would perhaps never do otherwise. We wanted the m to feel comfortable with doing something socially taboo; this would hopefully challenge their boundaries of acceptable social interaction and prompt them to question how communication can be manifested We created "Grounding" specifically to be a ritual that we would perform at the beginning of every rehearsal, and that would bring us together as a group. At the end of the fall semester, we asked our ensemble members several questions concerning their experience over the semester as a whole, and one membe r wrote specifically about "Grounding : During the "Grounding" at the beginning of every rehearsal my mind tends to run through whatever is going on in my life at the time. Sometimes the thoughts start to quiet down before I sit up, sometimes they never s top so I just sit up anyways. But once I start to make eye contact with people, I always begin to focus on the moment and connect to the group. It was amazing to me how difficult it was the first time I had to make eye contact with everyone. Generally, we try to avoid showing people that we are observing them for any length of time (e.g. it's not socially acceptable to stare), so it was uncomfortable to break this habit. It took some willpower, and it was easier with some people than with others. The e ye contact is one of my favorite parts of rehearsal, partly because it is interesting to me how much looking directly at another person focuses my thoughts and prevents my mind from wandering to external things, and partly because it is just interesting to look at people (which is p robably why it makes me focus). In his essay "On Face Work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction," Goffman asserts that most interaction is only on the surface, involving one's persona, or an outward repre sentation of the self, rather than being an open and deeper interaction: one that might have an affect on an individual's thoughts, ideas or opinions. Goffman states that face to face interaction "tends to be based not on agreement of candidly expressed he art felt evaluations, but upon a willingness to give temporary lip service to
31 judgments with which the participants do not really agree" ( Interaction Ritual 11). Extended eye contact encourages, if not necessitates, the relaxing of the external persona, an d through that loosening, allows for people to really see one another. Every time we performed this ritual, the eye contact between ensemble members became deeper and more drawn out. As the months progressed, and especially as we got further into January the length of time we held each other s gazes increased drastically. Through this practice, we learned that extended eye contact cannot be experienced without a raw hones ty not usually present in every day interaction. Whereas it began as an interesting co ncept, it became a very real, meaningful experience, and an integral part of the work we did together. Performing "Grounding" at the start of every rehearsal was like delineating that this moment, starting now, with this ritual this is a moment to be app roached with the utm ost focus, respect, and care. B y the end of our practicing this exercise, it had become exponentially more meaningful and focused. Soundscape "Soundscape" i s another game that we created within the first few rehearsals we ha d with our group. This game was different from most other games we developed in that it i s a piece within itself. It has a begin ning, middle, and end, and can be performed by itself with no other supplemental material added. This game, like "Grounding," wa s built from the concept of an initial individual component followed by an interaction with or focus on each other participant in the piece, with the necessity of extending awareness to the group as a whole in order to end. The idea behind this game was to gradually expand our focus outwards while at the same time creating a collaborative sound object.
32 This game harkens back to Cage' s idea of a piece of art whose purpose is its practice and reception, or Oliveros' work whose purpose is the experience of it rather than how it relates to the rest of the art world. T his game challenges its participants to spend ample amounts of time on each of the three sections, making sure to focus awareness in a specific way in each section and to find a balance between in dividual exploration and alliance with the rest of the group. Just as "Grounding" is both a representation and a physical manifestation of the ri tualistic aspect of a rehearsal so is "Soundscape" meant to be reflexive for both the performers and for the a udience. T he performers would be literally carrying out the actions that were in a sense representative of their own processes within our project, in such a way that a discerning audience could see the process unfold. This game became one of the easiest fo r our group to perform, which is why w e chose to invite the audience to perform it with us in January. Leader/Follower "Leader/Follower" i s one of our most basic games, which gave way to the majority of the other games we created for ou r group. While we d id not come up with this game ourselves (it was taught to us by Margaret Eginton, the acting professor at New College), we did create several variations and developments of this game, each time making the power dynamics m ore complex. The game is played in pairs, with one person as the leader, the other as the follower. The idea behind our using this game so fundamentally within our project was to highlight the importance of both players; the follower role is just as important as the leader role, and vice ve rsa. We wa nted to sharpen each individual' s leadership skills as well as develop her ability to completely focus on
33 her partner with no outside interference while follow ing The more in touch the players are with each other the more captivating it is to w atch the ir interaction, and the more engulfing the game is to play U sing the translation of sound to movement or movement to sound as an effective communication tool is another important component of the game. J ust as the games "Grounding" and "Soundscape were meant to demonstrate the very concepts that the players were actually carrying out through their performance "Leader/Follower" manifests concepts of communication and the interdependence of communicative interaction through a structure removed from every day human relations. We were trying to show that while in one sense, a truly mutual exchange is impossible, because someone is always leading an interaction while the other is always following, in another sense, such an exchange is also mutual, beca use it takes both a leader and a follower for an interaction to take place Apart from the intended interaction or concept that each specific game was to convey through its realization, there were specific skills we wanted to cultivate in our performers. We wanted our ensemble to develop comfort with improvisation through sound and movement as well as within a group setting. Upon watching "Leader/Follower ," the most basic game in our set, the distinction between sounder and mover is immediately clear. Eac h member of our group had different strengths and weaknesses as far as sounding and moving goes; some had formal training in vocal music or dance, some had informal training, and some had no training at all. There was a certain amount of open mindedness ne cessary to performing our games that some members, especially those with little to no formal training in traditional art forms, possessed more than others. We tried to allow each member of the group to practice for equal amounts of
34 time in sounding a nd mov ing in order to help them a chieve the same comfort level with both. We observed that the more we practiced focused interaction, the more natural and comfortable our ensemble was with improvising. Constraints As leaders we not only w anted to create games that used the interplay of sound and movement, but we also set out to hone the skills of our performers' improvisational creativity in these realms. The group gradually developed rather well, but at some point near the end of our fall rehearsals it seemed that everyone had mastered certain ideas about the game "Leader/Follower" to the extent that it became stagnant. This made us as directors realize that we neede d to create a system of filters in order to challenge our ensemble' s crea tive impulses and develop their ability to focus on a specific facet of sound or movement, instead of letting them have all the freedom of open interpretation Cage firmly stood by the i dea of a bal ance between law and freedom, the control of structure and the grace of interpretation if there was only freedom present in his pieces, that is, a complete absence of structure only the subjective will of the performer would be apparent. With only law, there would be no freedom of expression ( Silence 19 21) In order to find this balance in our own work, w e decided to go about creating c onstraints, a process in which we allowed the whole group to participate. We ended up creating some constraints that were only applicable to sound, and some that were only appli cable to movement, but most of our constraints could be mapped onto both actions. Each constraint had a scale through which it could be performed; for example, the constraint level which is purely a movement constraint, is on a scale from low to high.
35 S o when the performer is given the level constraint, he must work to pay particular attention to how low or high his body level is, and how to better accentuate that facet of his movement: Sound Both Movement Volume soft loud Friction loose tight Level high low Pitch high low Conviction apathy certainty Size big small Timbre dark light Weight light heavy Employment one part whole body Emotional temperature 8 sorrow anger Tempo slow fast Rhythm non meter strict meter This system of constraints is similar to Viewpoints, which is an improvisational structure created by Mary Overly and expanded upon by Anne Bogart and Tina Landau. Viewpoints is a system of "the natural principles of mov ement, time and space. [These director/authors] have simply articulated a set of names for things that already exist, things that we do naturally and have always done, with greater or lesser degrees of consciousness and emphasis" (Bogart 7). Viewpoints is used as a structuring technique in creating set pieces in dance and physical theater. 9 While this is a very useful and insightful system of categorization of universal aspects of movement, sound is somewhat less emphasized. Many of the Viewpoints could be mapped onto sound, but this 8 Although our group was able to agree on a definition and continuum of "emotional temperature" (in which "happiness" was in betwee n the two extremes) in theory, the practice of it proved to be too difficult. We ended up not using this constraint because of its theatrical implications and the inability of all of our members to agree upon a shared enactment of each emotion. 9 For fur ther reading on the original Viewpoints system: Overlie, Mary. "The Six Viewpoints." Training of the American Actor Ed. Arthur Bartow New York: Theatre Communications Group 2006. 187 221.
36 application would, for some of the Viewpoints more than others, be somewhat of a stretch. The main reason we decided to create our own system of constraints, rather than simply adopt and teach Viewpoints to our ensemble members, is that sound has been just as important as movement to our project, and we wanted to use a vocabulary for composition that would pertain specifically to sound, as well as to movement. Another reason we opted to create our own system of constraints is tha t it came directly out of the experiences of our group. This made it so that the constraints and their creation were directly meaningful to each group member. They had all helped in deciding what constraints to create and how they would be defined. Constra ints structured our improvisational games even further, which in turn challenged our group to stretch the boundaries of their creative ideas and step outside their improvisational comfort zones. By the end of our fall rehearsals, we had effectively hone d b oth our group' s ability to improvise individually and as a unit. We originally created constraints because our group was having so much trouble sharing a d efinition of "opposing" someone' s sound with an opposite movement, or vice versa. Consensus and Con flict There was a clear distinction in the games we created between focus on agreement, or consensus, and focus on disagreement, or conflict. Because we started out creating games having to do with consensus and agreement and because this skill is generally easier to work towards than purposeful conflict, we decided to spend more time developing the former than the latter. The games "Soundscape" and "Leader/Follower" as well as the game "Consensus," which effectively demonstrates its name, all f ocus on the
37 agreement of the group. In "Leader/Follower," the follower must agree to any sound or movement the leader makes and translate that information. In "Soundscape ," the group must agree on a sound object that is pleasing to all members before it ca n end. In "Consensus ," only when everyone in the group agrees on performing the same movement phrase is the game allowed to end. These games focus on positive cooperation between partners or among members. Within the dynamics of our group, it was easier fo r our ensemble to agree to the style and format of the games and rehearsals we structured while we were playing only consensus based or agreement based games. As soon as we introduced the concept of opposition or disagreement, it created a bit of turmoil within the group. All of a sudden, we were asking the m to do something that was not only more difficult (how do you oppose a sound with a movement?), but was more uncomfortable. In giving them games wherein they were able to disagree with each other, we al lowed them more agency which in turn translated outwards to the dynamics of our group. Members became more comfortable with questioning our methods and expressing issues or difficulties with our games. When disagreement was introduced into the group, it ma de everyone' s experience more of a challenge. Because we as directors were pushing our ensemble, they pushed back. We could have spent twice as much time with games focused on disagreement than agreement based games and probably still would not have felt a s comfortable with them as we did with "Leader/Follower" or "Soundscape." Although conflict based games were perhaps the most difficult to develop and manage, they were also the most interesting and complex games we created. T ime was the only thing restrai ning us from developing these games further as a group, and there is still much to be discovered about these issues.
38 Further Developments As the months progressed, we realized that "Leader/Follower" was just a jumping off point to make way for games with m ore interesting power dynamics and social implications. While games like "Conversation" and "Opposition" developed the power play between two people, games such as "Reverb" and "Chain reaction" allowed more people to be involved in the interactions, effect ively creating a group impulse that traveled through each member in turn, and wa s easy to discern from a viewer' s perspective. "Leader/Follower" also led us to create games focused on a conflict model as opposed to a consensus model, games where the idea w as to oppose the leader instead of agree with him or games where the follower almost has more power, where the follower can choose to agree with or oppose the leader, or find a new leader to follow, while the leader is fixed in her role. "Reverb" is a ga me in which the basic, unidirectional translation from sound to movement or vice versa is extended into an ever developing sound movement sound movement loop. Let us assume that the person who initiates the game starts off with making a sound. The next per son in the circle translates this sound into a movement. The next person translates the movement back into sound but not into the original sound she work s only off of the person immediately before her in the circle. This game can be very difficult, bec ause each person is effectively both leading and following at once. Interplay of Sound and Movement Through many of the previous performance projects we have taken part in, we have developed an interest in the interplay between sound and movement. This interplay, even
39 interaction, is in juxtaposition to sound and movement simply coexisting, as in a traditional art form such as ballet. W hat we as humans experience as sound' is really only one very small range of the spectrum of wavelengths. Most ev eryone has experienced sounds that are so low pitched that they are more felt than heard. There is a line regarding Nikola Tesla, the Serbian physicist and electrical engineer, in the movie Coffee and Cigarettes (Jim Jarmusch, 2004): "He perceived the eart h as a conductor of acoustical resonance." This concept, together with our project's emphasis on finding a means of dialogue between sound and movement got us wondering about where replacing the word earth' in the above quotation with person' would lead In one sense, the sentence holds quite literally. The human vocal chords vibrate to produce sound. This sound travels out into the space around us. Our entire bodies receive acoustic information, but our eardrums are our apparatus for testing this inform ation and sending the results to our brain, which makes sense of it. This led to an interest in the more figurative applications of the idea of a person being a conductor of acoustical resonance. The basic premise of "Leader/Follower," as well as most of our other games, is the translation between sound and movement. When a sound is translated into movement, it obviously becomes something new, as it is now articulated through the body and is witnessed by visual rather than auditory means. Yet it can also r etain something of the original gesture, so long as both of the people involved in the translation are well connected and comfortable with such an endeavor. The secondary manifestation of the gesture, a movement, can again be translated back into sound, as in "Reverb." Although this third gesture is a sound, like the first, it will not be the same sound. But, if the translation has again been effective, it will retain some quality of the original. This
40 translation from sound to movement and back can continu e for as long as the participants' attention span permits, and there will still be some aspect of the original sound intact, even after it has long since faded. Let u s now take a closer look at the game we created called "Reverb ." The Oxford English Dictio nary gives th is definition of reverberation : "Repeated echoing or occurrence of a sound; temporary persistence of sound without perceptible distinct echoes, resulting from repeated reflection from nearby surfaces or produced artificially." This is actual ly a very good way to think about the game. In a sense, the people in the circle who are moving act as conductors of sound between the people on either side of them (both of whom are sounding). This also means that those people sounding are acting as condu ctors of movement between the movers on either side of them. The effect of the continual translation between sound and movement in "Reverb" is that the original impulse continues to travel around the circle (since after it comes full circle for th e first time and reaches its originator, she in turn begin s to follow the person before her and the circle becomes a feedback loop). The original sound is nowhere to be found, and yet something continues to move around the circle, being translated from so und to movement and ba ck again, for as long as people' s attention span will permit. Referring back to the definition of reverberation, each person in the circle becomes a surface for reflecting the original sound, and the circle as a whole is the closed sp ace within which the sound travels.
41 Connection with a Partner Through the set of games based on "Leader/Follower ," we meant to develop our group's ability to distinguish the role of leader versus the role of follower. The leader should take care of the follower, while the follower has to be totally in touch with the leader. Taking a leadership role does not mean doing whatever one pleases, and similarly the follower role does not mean blindly following the leader without thinking; that would be tyranny. We wanted our group to understand that leader and follower are two sides of the same coin, that each must be equally focused on the other. O ur group members eventually internalized these ideas: the following is a quote f rom one of o ur ensemble members. Perhaps the most challeng ing thing about this exercise," Leader/Follow er," especially from the leader' s standpoint, is just maintain ing your sense of authority. It' s very easy as leader to become completely absorbed in what the follower is doing, and start to respond to that. You just have to remember that as leader, it' s your job to be independent and assertive, and that it is the follow er who is interpreting what you' re doing, and translating what you are doing; translating what you' re doing with your voice to gesture in th e body, or translating what you' re doing w ith your body, the movement you' re making, this time with your voice. Extremely important to this interaction is the connection with the partner. The "Leader/ Follower" based games in particular necessitate such an obsessive focus on the partner that awareness of the self become s secondary or even unnecessary, and so it is of the utmost importance to stay connected with the partner. In fact, it is only by focusing on the partne r that his role in the game is validated or appreciated because the indi vidual does cannot focus on him self. With games such as "Reverb ," where in each person is both leading the person behind her in the circle and following the person in front of her ther e is an almost complete disregard for the self (and one's own role as leader for the next
42 person in the circle) and in turn a sole focus on each respective leader. This means that the conscious mutual connection between leader and follower is abstracted an d enlarged to encompass the entire circle. Games such as "Reverb" forced our ensemble members to focus on their partner so much so that the relationship between partners in "Leader/Follower" became almost second nature in its simplicity. Attention and Awa reness With the exercise "Grounding" as well as the game "Soundscape ," we tried to encourage residing in the individual and the group center. Finding and staying focused in the individual center is comparable, in this case, to meditation, which can take a lifetime to practice and fully develop While we spent at least 5 10 minutes of every rehearsal working on this ability, we could have easily spent two hours a week trying to stay centered and calm within ourselves and still would have had mu ch to work on. The purpose of finding the individual center within our process was so our performers would be able to rehearse our games without interference from thoughts, anxieties, stress, or expectations presen t in their daily lives. In this way, we did help our group achieve a state of calm enough so that they were able to focus purely on tasks we set for them. This skill is very important for performers to develop throughout their lives so they can be as malleable as possible for whatever artistic e ndeavor they pursue. Oliveros was particularly interested in heightening the ability for sonic awareness and attention, particularly through her piece, Sonic Meditations, written i n part by and for the E nsemble in the early 1970s. She frequently refers to the following figure to explain her th eory of attention and awareness:
43 In this figure, the dot represents focal attention: an exclusive, linear process, which can be utilized to concentrate o n a specific subject, task, or idea. She says "we use it to see detail in an object, to move toward a goal, to hear a melodic line in a Bach Fugue, either in imagination, memory, or in the external world" (216). The circle represents what Oliveros calls g lobal awareness: a non linear, inclusive process, which we use to sense context, orientation in a space, and an awareness of our general environment. She says that focal attention and global awareness are complementary states that operate in each of the h uman senses. For Oliveros, meditation is the fusion of these two processes and can be used not only to calm the mind and body, but to refine one's own senses "Meditation," she says, "is the interplay of focal and global process with inner and/or outer w orld, an d is usually characterized by singularity of purpose which may result in heightened or enhanced awareness or perception" (217). Attention can intensify awareness and vice versa, just as both focal attention and global awareness can be honed to an i nfinite degree. In her essay "On Sonic Meditation ," Oliveros says, "A wareness can expand, without losing center or its balanced relationship with attention, and simultaneously become more inclusive. Attention can be focused as fine as possible in any direc tion, and can probe all aspects of awareness without losing its balanced relationship to awareness" (141). But at the same Pauline Oliveros' diagram representing focal attention (dot) and global awareness (circle).
44 time, focusing too much on either will interfere with the other. I t is important to practice and intensify both of these skills in t andem in order to truly gain knowledge and meaningful experience through these processes. Finding the group and individual centers have very much to do with attention and awareness in the way Oliveros describes them. The diagram can again be used here, w here the dot is the individual center and the circle encapsulating it is the group center. The individual must be centered and grounded in herself at all times in order to fully recognize and appreciate the group center. At the same time, at least within our games, paying attention to where the group is centered can inform the individual center. We tried to help our group achieve a solid center as a unified whole. By a unified whole, we mean that each individual is calm, aware, and attentive enough in his own body and mind to be able to expand that outwards to the other members of the group In the second and third parts of "Grounding ," each member has to acknowledge each other member of the group and then acknowledge the idea that the group can act as a wh ole. This knowledge of the group center is also necessary at the end of "Soundscape" and through out certain game s we used from Pauline Oliveros' Sonic Meditations such as "T each Yourself to Fly" and "Zina' s Circle." The idea of finding a group impulse to start or end a piece was always present in our rehearsals and carried on through January to our final performance Centeri ng oneself in the group i s also necessary for games such as "Chain Reaction," "Reverb" and "Grapevine : games in which most everyone i n the group i s participating and the progress of the game i s contingent upon each person involved responding as quickly and accurately as he can to his partner. The task of being centered in the group, again, could take an indefinite amount of time, being that there are
45 multiple levels of focus on a group as a cohesive unit. This goal, like that of finding the individual center, can always be more developed. But from the time that we started our group in the fall to the time that we finished our final perf ormance at the end of January, our ensemble's ability to focus on the group as a whole improved by leaps and bounds. Group Ritual We wanted to create a group workshop/rehearsal process that would be ritualistic in nature. We mean to say that t here would be elements of ritualized behavior present (namely "Grounding"), but also that the experience would effect a transformation of each individual involved, as well as a transformation of the group as a whole. Some definitions of ritual refer to a s pace and time that is delineated from the everyday, that is approached with a different mindset, and viewed w ith special significance (Dirks 484). Through our rehearsal process, we wanted to foster a time and space in which to release thoughts of everythin g external to the performative tasks at hand, to the creative improvisation, and to lessen the typical built up social barriers existing in everyday life. At the same time, we wanted our rehearsals to have a n impact on our ensemble member s everyday lives. We wanted them to develop a concentrated focus on a single task, even to the point of entering into that state referred to as flow while at the same time develop an expanded awareness of their surroundings. These seemingly contradictory states can a ctual ly be mutually supportive. In her essay, "The transformation of consciousness in ritual performances: some thoughts and questions ," Barbara Myerhoff discusses these states and their relationship to one another and to performance:
46 Csikszentmihalyi has des c ribed flow' as the state where action and awareness merge, destroying a dualistic pe rspective; a performer becomes aware of his actions b ut not of the awareness itself.' Heightened concentration and focus on a delimited aspect of reality has the effect o f excluding all but the central experience; this obliterates ordinary consciousness: critical, cognitive, perhaps even cynical and solipsistic the very attitudes that destroy the possibility of belief. Thus it has been suggested that the attitude of fl o w' is the opposite of reflexive awareness. But this leads us into a paradox: many rituals induce reflexive awareness just as they invite the fullest participation and concentration that brings about flow. Rituals' perpetual play with mirrors and masks, wit h borders and transitions, make self reflection nearly inevitable, telling the individual what s/he is and is not at once. Another state may come about: transcendence, where one is aware simultaneously of being in flow as well as aware of his/her actions.. A dichotomy between flow and awareness may be misleading, then, for surely they are in a complex dialectic relationship (Myerhoff, 247). This is very much in line with Oliveros' concept of a sphere of global awareness encircling a central dot of focuse d attention. One heightens and reinforces the other, creating a whole experience that is greater than that which either one aspect could give on its own. Oliveros also extends the metaphor to another level in which "the relationship of conscious observatio n to unconscious observation might be similar to the relationship of attention and awareness" (153). This means that the central dot would be the conscious observation of one's own state of attention and/or awarenes s, and the circle surrounding it would be the unconscious observation, i.e. the experiencing of the state itself. As the fall semester went on, it became clear that this intention of fostering the learning of these two states of focus and awareness in our ensemble members was working, both through watching their progress in the games, as well as in hearing their feedback. At the same time as this individual learning process within our rehearsals was unfolding, certain members of our ensemble began to talk of the focus they were learnin g throug h our games, and how they wished to bring that focus into the rest of their lives.
47 This was the beginning of the transformation' that Schechner refers to in a transformation/transportation duality. He posits that there are two kinds of experiencin g a performance or ritual: one is transportation, in which a p erformer or audience member is transported' into a different state of mind for the duration of the event than they usually experience during every day life. Once the event is over, they revert b ack to their normal state. In performances/rituals that transform, however, individuals experience a lasting change as a result of the event ( Between Theater and Anthropology 125 6). Schechner largely refers to transformation in the sense of coming of age and initiation rites, or other events during which a change in social standing is recognized, performed, and effected. Myerhoff, however, brings the issue of transformation into an internal arena in her essay by asserting that a ritual performance can bri ng about "a n ew perception of oneself or one' s socio/physical world, a conversion in awareness, belief, sentiment, knowledge, understanding; a revised and enduring emergent state of mind and emotion" (245). As our ensemble members began to internalize thei r experience within our rehearsals they brought their heightened sense of awareness and a ttention into their everyday liv e s At the end of the fall semester we received this written reflection from one of our members: This entrenchment with the subjects of communication, what information is meaningful, and performance... [are] quickly becoming what might be life long preoccupations, not just in some removed academic sphere but in my movements through any given day." The emphasis this particula r ensemble member felt on communication was not consciously a part of our plan for the project. However, the work that we were engaging in during rehearsals, as we have discussed, was involved in creating a group of
48 performers who were comfortable with eac h other and w ith their own creative impulses, which necessarily brought communication into play There are many different levels of communication we could discuss, but the one that will be the most applicab le here is socially comfortable nonverbal communic ation between two or more people. The feeling of being more at ease with another person often comes hand in hand with feeling better connected with that person. In this sense, the idea of communication can be connected with a word that come s from a common root: commune. Communicate' and commune' have somewhat different connotations, the former having to do more with imparting knowledge or ideas, and the latter implying a connection of a more profound quality of intensity or intimacy. Yet these words both approach the same sharing tha t the root of the word suggests: seeking or experiencing a mutual understanding, insight, or viewpoint. T hroughout our project, we sought to find and share a common understanding of what it was that we were all doi ng. This partially came about through the "Grounding" ritual, but also through gathering each week to work and play together, and the subsequent bond that formed among st all the members of the group. This is yet another form of transformation: the metamorp hosis of a co llection of individuals into a cohesive and well connected group with a shared experiential vocabulary. This sense of transformation is one that much experimental performance work over the last half cen tury has striven for. In his book, Perfor mance Theory Schechner discusses some of th e reasons behind this trend : In industrializ ed societies east and west workshop' has developed as one way of re creating, at least temporarily, some of the security and intimacy of small, autonomous cultura l groups. The workshop is a way of playing around with reality, a means of examining behavior by reordering, exaggerating, fragmenting, recombining, and adumbrating it. The workshop is a protected time/space where intragroup relationships may
49 thrive withou t being threatened by intergroup aggression. In the workshop special gestures arise, definite sub cultures emerge. The workshop is not restricted to theater, it is ubi quitous. In science, it is the experimental method,' the laboratory team, the research c enter, the fieldwork outpos t. In psychotherapy, it is the group,' the rehabilitation center, the therapeutic community.' In living styles, it is the neighborhood, the commune, the collective... The aim of the workshop is to construct an environment where rational, arational, and irrational behavior exist in balance. Or, to put it biologically, where cortical, brain stem, motor, and instinctive operations exist in balance, leaving to expressive, symbolic, playful, ritualized, 'scripted' behavior. It is my opinion that workshops are more impor tant than most people dream of (110). It has been our experience through past performance projects that those Schechner describes, that foster this kind of honest, supportive and stimulating community of players are t he most enjoyable, as well as the most creatively fruitful. In this kind of situation, connections are developed and sustained through people feeling comfortable with approaching each other with all of the energy and excitement that is bubbling behind thei r socially defined personas. As a result, creative momentum can be found, and this can be applied to art making or to community benefiting endeavors, or both. Schechner asserts, "O rthodox dramaturgy the theater of plays behind prosceniums, in fixed sett ings, for a settled audience, relating stories as if they were happening to others is finished. At least this kind of theater doesn't meet the needs of many people, needs as old as theater itself, combining ritual and entertainment. These needs also incl ude group interactions as one of the remedies for runaway mechanistic technologies" ( Performance Theory 162) This is relatively strong language, but we agree with the sentiment. Our biggest goal for the project was to form a cohesive, comfortable group of performers, and this is in one sense how we are situated in a whole counter tradition of performers and composers working to swing the balance of entertainment and efficacy in performance further toward efficacy.
50 Throughout the fall semester we formed our group and structured our games and rehearsals around that group. W e grew as individuals and as a collective; there was no pressure on the situation at this point, only play and exploration. This portion of our process could have gone on in definitely, with no need to stop or create a performable composition from what we learned. As artists, we want to explore using the workshop as a medium for a longer period of time, but because we were working on a deadline, we had to continue to the next phase of our project, which was the creating and setting of a composition for our ensemble to perform
51 Interlude 1: Collaboration We decided to write this section because collaboration was one of the biggest determining factors in the unfold ing of our process. We define collaboration as the act of two or more people combining their efforts towards a common goal. There can only be collabo ration if there is difference in vision, opinion, knowledge, or skill. There have been multiple levels of collaboration at work in our project: collaboration between the two of us as conceivers and leaders, between the lea ders and the group as a whole, amongst group me mbers during the play/exploration of our rehearsals, between ou r thesis advisor and us, and f inally, between performers and audience members during our performance event. Collaboration is striving for mutuality. We as leaders have tried to retain completely equal voices and authority throughout this project. Occasionally, one person 's idea will do minate the other' s at a given moment, but we must see this within the larger scope of mutuality and collaboration over time. Absolute mutuality in any one given moment is virtually impossible. One person is always going to be leading the conversation, proj ect, or idea, and the other following, but over a longer period of time, those roles can shift between collaborators, essentially creating a relationship that is mutual over time but not necessarily mutual at any particular moment. A good example of this i dea is the game "Leader/Follower:" in order for the game to work, the follower has to agree with the leader, just as the leader has to stay in tune with the follower. Even though the leader is deciding what material the follower is allowed to work with, it is not a tyrannical relationship. The idea is not for one person to have complete control over the other, but for both to be active in their roles. If one player
52 becomes disengaged from his a ction, the game stops, even if h e is still nominally playing his role. The name "Leader/ Follower" is meant to describe and compartmentalize the actions of the game, but each player must put forth an equal amount of effort. This game reflects our aim for the larger scope of our project, in which we are the leaders and our ensemble members are the followers. Throughout our project, we have endeavored to lessen the agency gap between ensemble members and ourselves and between our ensemble and our audience. We wanted to highlight the idea that any experience of a performa nce is a collaborative one, so that everyone would be present and actively engaged in the experience. EVEN RIGHT NOW, as we are writing this section on collaboration, collaboratively, one of us is thinking aloud while the other types! We are each contribut ing separate but equal parts to create a whole. Just as in "Leader/Follower," we cannot both be doing the same amount of the same work at the same time. Instead we are dividing the roles and activities between us. We are both contributing different but equ al amounts of energy, time and ideas to create an undifferentiated whole that in quality surpasses what either of us could do alone. Although we can agree on the same ideas we each personally have something different to bring to the table so that our work is synergistic. There is inherent compromise in collaboration. We have had to let go of some of our personal preferences and intentions at times in order to make our project work. This is not to say that we have been at odds throughout the project, but fr om the very beginning, we had to figure out how to make both of our voices, visions and perspectives into one. Chrissy was very interested from the beginning in the social dynamics of our
53 group and how that could translate into our games and pieces. She ha d initially planned to manifest that through the study of theories and experiments concerning small groups, and reflect that study through our process. But beca use the actual rehearsals and creation of our games took more time than she had initially expect ed, the study of social psychology had to be put on the back burner. What resulted was a more organic demonstration of social dynamics simply through the creation of a group and working within that group. While social dynamics were still fore ground ed, Chri ssy' s vision for imposing social dynamics thematically had to be compromised in favor of what both of us were interested in and what was needed to push the development of the group further. What was Caitlin's experience with compromise? From the get go, sh e was much more interested in games and structures that were looser in terms of power dynamics. Because we started with "Leader/Follower" and because of Chrissy's intense interest in power dynamics, we ended up creating games that had much stricter dynamic s than Caitlin had envisioned. She would have used a more improvisational structure for the games, allowing relationships between performers to develop naturally i n each incarnation of the games. This method more involves creating a potential space for ope n ended play. The hi ghlight on social dynamics downplayed one essential quality of almost all of our games: the interplay of sound and movement. What came out of this compromise was a completely cohesive project that was both reflexive and self aware. Al though neither of us could have created this project individually what emerged from our collaboration was true to each of our individual intentions. Although we each had specific ideas that we were unable to fully explore, we did agree upon the process of our project throughout.
54 In the beginning, we agreed upon the amount of shared responsibility between the two of us. We agreed that no matter what we had intended, we would truly be led by what happened in our rehearsals, in the present moment with our g roup, rather than our preconceived notions We agreed that communication was absolutely essential: between the two of us, our thesis advisor and us and between our group and us We agreed that our method would evolve along with our project over time, rath er than starting out with a plan that we would devote ourselves to carrying out, regardless of what happened during rehearsals. In this way, our preferences and values emerged gradually up until the performance. We agreed that we were not going to impose a nything in particular beforehand, that instead; anything that we set was something that came out of our a ctivities. Similar to John Cage' s intention, "purposeful purposel essness (12 ), our only decision was to not decide on anything until it happened. This paradox is a key to experimental performance; it is a malleable form that grows along with its creators. Through our collaborative process, along with many other more experimental and fluctuating principles upon which we have based our project, we are pos ing that art can never be separated from the historical or social context in which it is inevitably embedded. We are posing that art should not be defined by its ability to fit the description of "art," but rather how much participants can gain from e xperi encing it. We also want to use our knowledge of history and social reality to enrich our art. Art can build a community of individuals, all of whom can learn and grow through the experience. It can be enlightening for all involved: creators, performers, au dience, etc. Any performance group, whether collaboration is a theme or not, is by nature of its social reality going to be collaborative. We particularly wanted to highlight this aspect
55 of group performance. Our main concern was creating a cohesive ensemble that was well connected and comfortable with each other, and because we were so dedicated to allowing what happened in rehearsals guide our process, the fact that we were creating exercises and games that would foster a sense of group coh esion eventually meant that group cohesion and collaboration became thematic. We continued to create games that highlighted group cohesion and collaboration because it was actually occurring in our rehearsals. I n her book Space in Performance Gay McAuley observes that a performance event requires an audience just as much as it requires performers (235). We wanted to confront our audience with that idea. In being up front about this co creational process with our audience, we hoped to foster a greater degree of engagement in the space with the performance on the part of our audience members. As it stands in today' s theaters and performance spaces, most spectators are not held accountable for their presence in a performance situation. The effec t of dimming the lights on the audience in a traditional proscenium theater is to make the audience more at ease, more resigned to their experience, and less accountable for the events at hand. However, dimming the house lights only separates the audience from the performers so much. Even when the performers cannot see their audience, they can still feel whether the audience is engaged, and how they are receiving what the performers are presenting. Any performer knows the difference between a live audience and a dead one. In this way, the audience is just as responsible for the energy of the performance as the performers themselves are. This is the sense in which Gay McCauley describes spectators as co creators of a performance. In signaling to our audience that they were just as important a part of this event and
56 process as we, the performers were, we were trying to communicate that they were accountable for what occurred in the space during the event. There were certainly obvious moments during our performa nce event when the whole audience was contributing significantly to the performance such when we invited them to perform "Soundscape" with us But even during the portions of the performance in which the audience was least involved, such as our set pieces they were contributing as much energy to the experience as the performers were. All of this was our intention: to make the audience aware of how contingent the experience was on their own input, and to encourage that input. In some sense, we had more age ncy than the audience did, because we were framing this experience for them, but that does not negate the agency and power they had as spectators over the event as a whole. In this sense, the performers were the leaders, and the audience members were the f ollowers, both contributing a separate but equal part. We decided to co create this project because we knew and trusted each other well enough to be confident in our ability to each contribute as much as the other, and while we knew we shared many ideas an d experiences, we also knew that each of us had something to offer that the other did not. Caitlin does not think she would have done a project involving a group if not for collaborating with Chrissy. If she had been doing an individual performance, she w ould have used at most one other person and exercised a large degree of control over his participation in her project. For Caitlin, working collaboratively with Chrissy gave her the sense of camaraderie and boost of con fidence she needed to participate in a project involving an ensemble of performers to lead through a workshop of exploration in unknown directions.
57 In our opinion and experience, the benefit of a collaborative project is that you can commit to doing more than you could have done alone. Two heads are better than one, as long as those two heads can agree on a common thread of understanding. Another benefit is a constant evaluati on of your work through another' s eyes. You are held accountable for your responsibility to the project because it i s not yours alone In our particular project, it was not just the collaboration between the two leaders that was so enriching, but the different perspectives gained from allowing and encouraging our group to give feedback throughout the process. That feedb ack both assured us that we were moving in the right direction, because they were learning what we wanted them to, and gave us new perspectives from which to view the ideas and concepts that we were trying to convey In a performance project that you plan and carry out on your own, you can do whatever you want because you have complete control over it. Your own vision can go further, because you are not sharing the effort and credit with anyone else. But when you work with someone else, there is another pe rson to bounce ideas off of and who can help develop those ideas into an achievable and coherent project. This is especially helpful when the idea you have for a project is on so grand a scale as to be virtually unachievable; a collaborator can help you st ay true to your original concept while making sure that it is practical. A collaborator can listen and reflect your ideas back to you, so that you learn how someone else can understand those ideas in her own terms.
58 Chapter 3 : January Composing and Direc ting Thr oughout the fall of 09 we fostered a sense of individual agency within each of our group members, and this enriched the experience for everyone involved as well as the process itself. Rather than only our thoughts guiding the process, everyone co ntributed through his or her own reflections and input. During the fall, we promoted this involvement through asking questions for everyone to respond to on their own, and discussed those questions at the next rehearsal, but we did not continue directing t his reflection process for our performers during January rehearsals. By this time our ensemble was already accustomed to actively considering what it was we were asking of them, forming their own ideas about it all, and readily sharing those with us. This was as much a part of the p rocess for them as was coming to rehearsal and participating. And so, unconsciously bidden by us, but compelled by the nature of the process we created together all the same, the y brought their input to the creation of our piece s and the conception of the performance wholeheartedly, as strong individuals as well as committed and considerate members of the group. And so began our transition to a more traditional rehearsal process, in which we directed the ensemble in order to cre ate a cohesive and performable composition. Goals In January 10, we focused on synthesizing the fruits of the fall semester into set pieces for our performance at the end of the month. We had a number of goals to this end:
59 W e wanted to foster a smooth transition into this new phase of our project in which we moved toward operating as a performance ensemble, with the two of us as composers and directors. Composing and directing within this project were challenges for us We had to figure out how to split up rehearsal time between our different compositional processes to fully develop our own pieces, while at the same time integrating our different approaches in order to keep intact the complementary nature of our ideas a nd leadership styles. This presented new demands on both our relationship as collaborators and our confidence and intuition as individual artists, but we were both fully prepared for these demands. At the same time that we established ourselves in these ne w roles during the January rehearsals, we also wanted to c ontinue to improve our ensemble' s sense of shared group impulses, consensus activities, and decisions. This new compositio nal phase of our project was meant to compliment what we had established the previous semester in terms of connection and awareness of each other and the group as a whole. To this end, we made sure to do exercises in awareness, of oneself as well as of the group as a whole, even extending to the larger environment. Some of the gam es and improvisation structures that we worked with and/or created in the fall also deal t with group awareness, including "Grounding with which we started every rehearsal throughout our entire process, and which is specifically designed to foster individ ual and group centering. "Flocking" and "Soundscape" also deal with group awareness, and these two in particular played a large role in our January rehearsals. At the outset of the month, w e wanted to define and develop the relatively new constraint system we had created together as a group, so that we could use the constraints
60 as a kind of compositional vocabulary. In creating constraints, we were a ddressing the need for our ensemble to have a more focused way of improvising in our games. We wanted to use that focus to create a variety of interactions or possible motives for interaction within our simpler game structures, especially if we were going to be composing set pieces for our ensemble to perform. Both of us ended up using constraints as a primary tool in the creation of our own pieces, although the overall structure of our pieces and the process through which they were created differed a grea t deal. We also wanted to bring the play space as a whole to our ensemble's attention by the creation of environmental constraints. These were naturally occurring observable qualities of a room or environment that an individual could use to ins pire him to move about the space or to sound in a different way. These constraints were created by our entire ensemble, just as our other constraint system was. The se environmental constraints we created were: temperature, color, odor, light quality, tex tur e, ambient noise, time of day and movement. We did not utilize or develop these constraints as much as our other constraint system ; they were used more as a tool for our ensemble to be more aware of their external environment, or to foster their global awareness. Chrissy ended up using some of these constraints in her final piece, although they were never the focus of her composition. Individual Pieces We directors collaborated extremely well. We have never had to think about collaboration ; it has simply come naturally to us. In thinkin g about why this is so, we realized that in a way, we share the same artistic vision and conception of the world, but
61 we have different vocabularies for expressing these things. Collaboration cannot happen wh ere there is no difference betwe en collaborators. We work so easily together because our art has the same intentions, but we collaborate well because we think in different ways. In order to elucidate these differences, we will include here discussions of o ur creative processes that we wrote individually: !! !!! !!! !"#$%#& "!#$!%&'(&)*!+ ,-!&..)/&01234!5!$6&)623!617'87'9!&:/(6!;1&6!5!.2)$/'&<<*!;&'623!6/! &..)/&01!&$!&!0/=./$2)! > !;1&6!5!;&'623!6/!2?.)2!&'3!1/;!5!;&'623!6/!3/!76@!5!;)/62!7'!=*! 612$7$ !' /62://84!A 5!;&'6!6/!926!&6!612!7'62).<&*!:26;22'!$/('3!&'3!=/B2=2'6@!C/;!0&'! $/=2/'2!2?.)2!6127)!2'B7)/'=2'6!&'3D/)!&'/612)!.2)$/'!61)/(91!$/('3E!F&'!&!.2)$/'! =/B7'9!&'3!&!.2)$/'!$/('37'9!1&B2!&!0/'B2)$&67/'EG !! !! !! H17$!;&$!612!0/'02.6(&
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67 pieces. I have always been interested in how to best lead a group. While I was co leading this thesis performance group, I was also managing and directing other performance groups at New College. I am particularly interested in leading a group in the most effective and efficient way possible, growing from the experience, and developing new ideas about being leader or follower through that expe rience. In more traditional performance groups, such as the a capella choir that I direct, the roles are set. Everyone knows the formula for teaching and directing a song: the director leads everyone in a vocal warm up, the choir looks at sheet music, le arns parts with accompaniment from the piano, the director conducts the choir through the song, stopping where the notes are wrong or the dynamic shift is not quite correct, and repeats this process until the choir has a solid repertoire. This is the most effective and efficient way to lead a choir, but this process is not necessarily the best way to grow because it is so formulaic. Through this thesis project, I wanted to find more creative ways to be a leader: ways that both acknowledged the fact that le ader and follower are dependent on each other and used that knowledge to the group's advantage. Collaboration between two leaders, between leaders and a group, and even in a larger sense, between performers and audience, are ways not only to be present in the situation, but to be aware of the ramifications of that situation. This thesis project was a way for me to acknowledge the product of my work through focused attention to and awareness of the process. This method of working creatively with a group is not necessarily more intensive or difficult than conventional methods. It is using the knowledge of group and power dynamics to aid an experience, rather than ignoring its existence and widening the rift between leader and followers. And because this metho d was new to me, it forced me as a director to think critically and introspectively about what I was doing, allowing my thoughts and ideas to progress with time. This intensive collaborative process actually informed my other more traditional directorial p rojects, helping me to see new and creative ways of approaching my normally static rehearsal methods.
68 It was just as important for me to notice the different spheres of connection and power within our group. By calling ourselves the leaders, Caitlin and I were separating ourselves while at the same time attempting to participate along with the rest of the group, at least for the fall semester. At first, almost for our own benefit as much as for the benefit of our ensemble, Caitlin and I tried to define ou r roles as part of the group learning experience, putting ourselves on more or less the same level with the rest of our ensemble. Even though from the very beginning it was clear that Caitlin and I had more agency, control, and knowledge of this process t han anyone else involved, we took some of that entitlement away by playing games, exploring our sounds and movements, and answering discussion questions along with our ensemble. This was a very important first step in both making our ensemble feel comfort able with the process and developing a tight knit group relationship. Of course, our roles within the larger ensemble did not remain so neutral, and eventually we had to embrace our role as directors, but this is just one example of the complex web that is group interrelations. When we started to bring in more conflict based games, we essentially gave our ensemble members agency to agree or disagree. Not only did the power dynamics within the games change, but they also shifted within the fabric of our grou p. Group members started to question and even disagree with Caitlin's and my ideas, which altered our roles drastically. The spheres of power and connection amongst group members shifted constantly throughout the fall semester and January term. Through t his intense evaluation and reevaluation of the group dynamics, I was inspired to create my piece, "You Are/We Are." I decided to start my piece with a concept and develop it from there. My initial idea was relatively simple; the piece would start with an i ndividual moving through the space, then gradually new individuals would enter the space, ending with all five members (excluding me, the director) interacting with each other. I wanted to use the games we created and rehearsed previously to gradually intr oduce new members. I had to figure out which games fostered different kinds of interactions and power dynamics, and how it could make sense within a piece for people to keep coming in: how different
69 games could be added together to create more interesting and complex situations with more direction towards a totally connected group. Because the group was at this point very well versed in "Leader/Follower," I decided to start with that, and by changing who was follower or leader, who was moving or sounding, and giving my performers specific constraints at specific times during the piece, I was able to convey a story line with somewhat of a dramatic arc. Whereas Caitlin started her performers' creative process with a simple prompt, which gradually led to a fil tered and polished piece, I started my performers with certain physical directives and goals, all the time keeping a concept in mind. I had to figure out how to prompt my performers in order to get them to do what I envisioned. At first, I told performers how to move across the floor, when to start sounding or moving, and when to switch their power roles (leader/follower) or performative actions (sounding/moving). Although I ended up switching my performers' constraints more than once during my compositio nal process, I came into the piece with the leader/follower roles completely set. As the piece progressed, I realized that I not only had a conceptual idea of the power dynamics within my piece, but I wanted my performers to convey something specific, a through line" that developed with the performance of the piece itself. This "through line," or running story line, was about the trials and tribulations of group work and performance. Even though the group was playing solely with agreement/consensus based games in my piece, I was able to convey unstable and sometimes unhealthy power dynamics through constant manipulation of these games. By switching roles and actions of the performers, there would be a positive shift in the overall power dynamics within t he group, effectively conveying conflict and resolution. The title "You Are/We Are" stemmed from this dramatic arc. In the beginning of the piece, the performers are focusing on the other' the follower or the leader. They are figuratively pointing fing ers at each other, each performer trying to get others to do what he or she wants. Near the end of the piece, the performers focus more on the ability of the group to act as a cohesive unit, through games like "Flocking" and
70 "Grapevine," where every group member has to be centered in the group impulse in order for the game to work. I was able to contrast the two elements of conflict and consensus mostly through directive physical action, but after my group had internalized these actions, I realized that th ey still were not expressing the actions as I had intended. I then decided to give my performers an imaginative setting and story for my piece -not something they should try to act out during the piece, but something that would help them to convey the st ory line that I had envisioned. I told my first performer that he was exploring a dark and dangerous cave with a buried treasure inside, and that he was both interested in getting the treasure and scared of this unknown space. When the next performer start s sounding to him, she is asking him if he is okay, and when she starts moving towards him, he is guiding her through the darkness with his sound. There is a moment when two leaders on opposite sides of the room are fighting over a follower with sound the follower's goal is to follow the leader that most suits her, and the leaders' goal is to get the follower to come so close as to touch one of them. With this game, I told my leaders to imagination the single thing they wanted most in the world. I said tha t if the follower got so close as to touch one of them, their prize would be that most coveted possession. This raised the stakes of the game for my leaders, which resulted in a much more dynamic and competitive performance. The energy I gleaned from my performers through using imaginative exercises such as these was much more potent and powerful than using physical directives alone. At the start of the piece, I asked an individual with the constraints of friction and body level and the external constrain t of light quality to move from one side of the performance space to the other. The next performer was to follow performer 1 with sound and the constraint of friction, and when performer 1 got to the other side of the room, performer 2 would begin followin g/moving and performer 1 would begin leading/sounding to her. Each successive performer would enter the space with sound and gradually begin moving after his or her introduction. I had certain players switch power roles during the piece: there is a moment where performer 2 is standing in the
71 middle of the space, following the sounds of performers 1, 3, and 4 at the same time, while they are gradually getting louder and moving towards her, in an almost suffocating way. They reach a fever pitch at the same ti me that they are so close to her that she can no longer move. At this point, the single mover collapses on the ground, leaving the three sounders standing around her, w aiting. When she rises, she be g in s to lead the three previous leaders/sounders with soun d, while they take on her initial role as followers/movers. This sudden switch in the leader/follower roles proved to be the most dramatic and intense moment in the piece. This portion of the piece was not completely set before I taught it to my performers I knew what kind of power dynamics I wanted to display, and then I had to figure out what would be the best thing my performers could do physically in order to indicate that dynamic to an audience. Through constant manipulation of leader/follower roles t hroughout my piece, I was able to demonstrate a wide range of power dynamics in social situations without actually having to mimic everyday life social interactions. The fact that this idea was demonstrated through my piece very clearly proved that the pro cess spoke for itself. Even though I did use some imagination work with my performers, it was not necessary to push them to do something outside of our structure. All the tools I needed to say what I wanted were already contained within that structure, and my task was to make that structure work for me.
72 Interlude 2: Impulse We decided to write yet another interlude, one on impulse, because our games are so contingent upon the players' ability to follow a group or individual impulse, and when our adv isor asked us to define the word, we were left completely dumbfounded. How does one define impulse, when it is a concept that defies words in favor of the ability to experience it? Because impulse was so integral to our process, we decided that we must t ry our best to explain it. Impulse has many definitions, as can be seen in the Oxford English Dictionary: Sudden or involuntary inclination or tendency to act, without premeditation or reflection An act of impelling; an application of sudden force causing motion An indefinitely large force enduring for an inappreciably short time but producing a finite momentum Force or influence exerted upon the mind by some external stimulus; suggestion, incitement, instigation An i ncitement or stimulus to action arising from some state of mind or feeling. The wave of change which travels through nerve and muscle in passing from rest into action We are concerned here with two different kinds of impulse: that of the individual and of the group. Individual im pulse is a psychic drive or instinctual urge that often arises out of kinesthetic response to people or events in your environment. An impulse arises and asserts itself. You can consciously decide not to act on it, but the impulse can also bypass conscious ness completely and immediately become action. You can intentionally allow your impulses to be less analytically filtered so they move toward action unhindered by thought. The goal of some elementary improvisational exercises is to break down the analytica l mental barrier that an impulse must pass through before it becomes action. In the very beginning of our project, when we were wor king with "Movement Morphology," we had to remind our players that it does not matter if the impuls e is the best' or most c reative' one, rather, that it comes from a felt, pre mental reaction. We
73 told them, "If you feel an impulse to begin or develop a movement in this game, go with it! Don't think about whether you should do it or not!" Erving Goffman describes in Behavior i n Public Places his obse rvations of patients in a women' s mental institution. He pinpoints and organizes in his discussion certain behaviors that are publicly acceptable by noting socially unacceptable behavior these patients would display This unacceptab le behavior is akin to that of babies as they are growing and developing, who are continually acting out of pure impulse. For instance, many female patients would relieve themselves whenever they needed to, no matter whether they were in a public or privat e space, with little regard to the norms of personal hygiene ( 41 ). This is completely impulsive behavior, which we, as functioning members of society, are taught to repress or at least delay. This example s hows us that we have urges that w e deny ourselves all the time. Thus, c reating a space and environment in which it is socially acceptable to act impulsively becomes very difficult, as we are taught that we must curb those real life impulses. The challenge is learning how to control when and where you use impulse. A single impulse is a single moment in time one solitary moment. Once that moment passes, and you do not act on that impulse, it is gone forever: it cannot come back. If you feel an impulse and let it hang in the air until it becomes stagnant, even if you act on it after the fact, it will not be able to rise to its full potential. If you are with a partner or a group of people, and you are truly connected to them, everyone involved will feel the impulse even if they do not act upon it. You are always able to feel the impulse, like seeing a fish leaping, in a burst of energy, out of the stream and into the air, where it can be glimpsed clearly for a brief moment before it swiftly slips back into the
74 undifferentiated stream of potential. But seein g the fish is not the same as reaching out and grabbing it. The latter is analogous to acting upon a received impulse. This is the most cha llenging aspect of impulse work: to act on that impulse in the exact moment when it needs to be acted upon. Impulse is like potential energy. It is always there and sometimes it builds up enough that it needs be released. It is like a continually present, thrumming vibrational force that you can ignore, as you can block out the sounds of traffic or ot her people's conve rsations in a noisy cafe. There is a running level of experience that i s made up of urges and impulses, and that level is pre mental. In his book The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness Antonio Damasio states "I t is through feelings, which are inwardly directed and private, that emotions, which are outwardly directed and public, begin their impact on the mind; but the full and lasting impact of feelings requires consciousness, because only along with the advent of a s ense of self do feelings become known to the individual having them" (36). It follows that only once an individual is aw are of having a feeling can she then act on that feeling. However, emotion is described as having a two fold evolutionary p urpose: "T he first function is the production of a specific reaction to the inducing situation... The second biological function of emotion is the regulation of the internal state of the organism such that it can be prepared for the specific reaction" (54). Referring t o this second function as a means of physical homeostasis, Damasio implies that there is a biological level on which a feeling (which is related to what we call in this essay an impulse' ) affects a physical reaction, without consciousness necessarily gett ing involved. There is also the possibility of becoming consciously aware of a feeling, which forms the basis of another,
75 more analytical level of reaction. We can make a connection from this biological perspective on sensory input determining action to th e d iscussion from Declan Donnellan' s book The Actor and the Target He posits, "A ll our apparent actions are in fact only reactions to what the target [i.e. the object of our attention] is already doing. Does this really mean that we never start anything? Precisely. When I seem to start off something, in fact I am merely responding to something else. In fact I cannot originate something by myself, whatever I do has to be as a reaction to something el se that goes before" ( 66). Although Donnellan and Damasio use different terminology, they are discussing phenomena very similar to what we describe is this interlude. We describe impulse as a running sense or sensibility that is always present but that manifests in different ways at different times, as well as actually being those manifestations. Impulse is both the stream and the fish in the stream. The fish is part of the stream, and the stream, in a sense, is inside of the fish. W e could then say there are two ways to look at impulse: the stream, which is th e impulse potential and the fish, which is the impulse action These two different kinds of impulse are not mutually exclusive. However, the impulse potential is always present and the impulse action can only manifest when the impulse potential has been d rawn upon. In our discussion of rehearsal s and games outside of this particular section, we use the word "impulse" to denote an impulse action rather than the impulse potential We have decided to differentiate the two here because we feel they are two d istinct and necessary aspects of impulse, but in our general discussion, we are more concerned with the manifestation of the impulse than its potential.
76 In terms of traditional acting technique, which can be expanded to apply to all performance activities, impulse is a true state that an actor needs in order to play his part eff ectively, to the best of his ability. In A Practical Handbook for the Actor Bruder et al. assert, "T o live truthfully on stage and effectively perform your action, you must learn to embrace each moment as it actually occurs, not as you would like it to be" (42). This highlights the fact that even when there is a script, or particular set of actions prescribed during a performance, there is also a real interaction going on between the performers. As an actor playing a character, you must figure out what that character wants and how she can get it, and how s he feels toward the other characters. But during each take of a scene, the actor must act on the impulses she herself feels and cha nnel that through the desires and needs of the character. You cannot just figure out exactly how you want to deliver a line, or what look to give another character at a given moment, and then play it the same way every time. This is a stagnant, dead way of performing, and any audience will recognize that. To this end, the authors of the Handbook instruct that "if a given moment makes you angry or sad or causes you to reason with the other person [in the scene], fine. All of these impulses are correct; you'r e task is to learn to act on them as they occur in you. In other words, as scary as it sounds, you must act before you think. What we mean by this is that you should act on what occurs in you as it occurs in you, without passing judgment on the impulse" (4 3). Allowing an impulse to manifest is an activity of fast thinking, but that learned sense of knowing which impulses to act on and when is activity of taste thinking. Taste thinking, like fast thinking, is associative, metaphorical, and expe riential. It is not tied to logic or rationality. It does not simply constitute t hinking or acting quickly. Rather, taste
77 thinking is imbued with a sense of the larger picture, and how a particular aspect may be a good f it or not. This evokes Oliveros' con cept of focal attention' and global awareness.' Oliveros says that you need to be able to use both attention and awareness at the same time. This necessitates practicing them separately as well as in combination. In order to be completely aware of both internal and external impulses, you need to be able to focus on a single task while also being completely aware of your external environment. Oliveros defines impulse as "a readiness to move which does not anticipate, or follow, but responds at the exact m oment" (217). This is what we were trying to foster in practicing and creating "Grounding," which was the initial preparation we gave our group for impulse work: for the ritual to be completed, everyone must feel a shared impulse to stand up and carry that impulse through to action, together. After being prompted to describe group impulse, one of our ensemble members said this: T he group impulse is similar [to the indivi dual impulse], in that it doesn' t follow any reasoning... the word "impulse" implies to me a feeling to do something. But a group impulse is the culmination of individual impulses. It can be led by an individual impulse, which may be followed so closely that an outside observer could not see who was leading and who was following. Or someti mes (more rarely) the group impulse really feels like the indivi dual impulses are all aligned. For us, the directors, there are two different kinds of group impulse: one that is completely spontaneous, when multiple people suddenly have a shared dire ctio n which unites them, and another that is preconceived, when a group knows already what their shared goal is and waits until every person in the group individually feels that urge, making sure the group impulse is intact. In The Viewpoints Book this is dis cussed in the context of giving consent ( 27 ). A game is described in which the group runs in a circle,
78 and, without talking, changes the direction of the running within the circle. There is not usually a moment when the whole group spontaneously feels the impulse at the same time. Instead, each person might feel the impulse to change direction at different momen ts, which is a sort of consent, saying, "I want to change direction, but I will wait until everyone has felt the impulse to change ." There is a shar ed group impulse only when everyone feels that individual urge and thus has given that consent. All of our games deal directly with impulse. "Leader/Follower" could in a sen se be called "Pass the Impulse." The leader is impulsively either sounding or movin g, and the follower has to take that information and on an i mpulse translate that information into the opposite medium (sound # movement or vice versa). Insight from The Practical Handbook for the Actor is particularly apt here: "The difficulty of executin g an action lies in dealing with that which is actually happening with the other person...you must stay in tune with the responses you are receiving. This requires a great deal of bravery and will due to the fact that you can never know exact ly what is goi ng to happen next (40) In the sense of "Leader/Follower," it is more the duty of the follower to execute her action through what is actually going on with the leader, but the leader must be equally connected to the follower in order to make sure she is c aught up with all of his im pulses and desires In later games dealing with the "Leader/Follower" dynamic, such as "Co nversation" or "Leader/Chooser," the duty to truly pay attention to your partner becomes more of an equal exchange, where the follower eith er has more agency or the power roles are being constantly swi tched according to the players' whims so that both players can switch from leader to follower multiple times before the game ends. Then
79 there are the games which involve group impulse, such as Reverb," "Chain Reaction" and "Grapevine." It is easiest to observe the traveling group impulse in the game "Grapevine." becau se the game is played in a line. There are essentially two real leaders in "Grapevine," one at each end of the line. Only they a re allowed to decide when the impulse starts and stops. Everyone in the middle, even though they are leading the people next to them, are dependent upon the starting and stopping of the impulse by the true leaders at each end of the line. The easiest way t o see the impulse travel is if one of the leaders at the end of the line perform s a single gesture and then stops. Each consecutive person must then react with a single gesture, creating an observable action that travels down the line until it reaches the last person on the other end. This traveling action is the embodiment of the group impulse. An observer would be able to see when and where there is interference with the impulse between people in the line. When the game starts, one of the leaders on one e nd of the line sends an impulse through her sound or movement. Each player translates that impulse into the opposite action and this continues down the line until the impulse is dropped, when it completes that linear journey. The leader on the opposite end of the line has the agency to reverse the direction of the impulse at any time. He does this by switching from, for example, the sound he was performing as a follower to movement as the new leader. When this switch happens, each consecutive person in line must also switch his or her performative action and let the impulse travel in the opposite direction in order to pick up the impulse from the new leader. This is when it is easiest to see the location of where t he new impulse meets resistance; someone ma y not be aware that there is a new leader and therefore may
80 continue to follow the old leader' s impulse coming from the opposite direction. This game, then, hones b oth global awareness and focal attenti on. In order for the new leader' s impulse to travel th e entire length of the line and thereby truly take hold of her leadership, each person in the line must, throughout the entire game, have focused attention on the impulse coming to him and his own impulsive translation of it while at the same time retain a global awareness of t he game as a whole to notice when there is an impulse coming from a new direction. We believe the impulse comes from a source that is both inside and outside of us at all times. You can say that the individual impulse comes from that individual, just as you can say the group impulse comes from the group, but if there truly is a constant and ever present running stream of potential energy, it does not c ome from any one person or group of people. One of our personal goals is to bring peo ple together. In our project, t his did not only have to do with building a cohesive ensemble, sharing a common understan ding of experience or developing a sense of shared impulse through co mmunication and interaction. It was also about being aware of that idea through and during practice. Focusing on the goal or task at hand while being aware o f the implications of that goal or task. If we say that impulse comes from this constant collective stream of potential energy, then working on honing a sense and ab ility to act upon impulse was a way to bring people together. We believe it is our highest duty and calling as people to realize and help other people to find that same realization, conceptually and experientially, of the ultimate connectedness of everyone and every thing. "We are all connected, to each other, biologically; to the earth, chemically; to the rest of the universe, atomically" (Neil
81 deGrasse Tyson) There is a level on which every bit of the universe is communicating energetically all the time with the rest, and while we live out our lives mostly under the working assumption that we are independent, autonomous beings, especially in our western society, we in reality are completely connected and dependent on everything around us. Finding, notici ng, and acting on the impulse are very important way s to feel that interconnectedness of all things. Although at the beginning of this project, we did not set out to enlighten the soul and open the mind to the possibilities of the interconnectedness of al l things, we realize now that this has been a subconscious driving force throughout our entire experience. If you asked either one of us to give a strong theoretical context to this argument, we would not be able to. The connection we believe impu lse has to creating a global community is not something we learned from a book; it is a purely experiential feeling. Impulse work has been foundational to the experience of our work rather than the theory Only near the end of our rehearsals during the fall of 0 9 did we start to conceptualize impulse, and open up the question "W hat does impulse mean to you?" to our group. It was very difficult for any of them to describe it, and even for us, it is extremely perplexing to explain; the only true way to understand impulse is to do it. And so as writers, we must acknowledge here the limitations of language to discuss this feeling, this potential, this action that we call "impulse," and the universal context in which we place it. Like so much of our project, the mos t beneficial aspect of impulse work is being in the moment and doing it.
82 Chapter 4 : Performance Planning and Event During the fall semester we did very little planning of the final performance, so when January finally came we knew we had to focus solely on this task. In this chapter, we will first discuss our priorities for our performance Next, we will describe our plans for the event, and finally, we will examine two different presentations of the performanc e. We will refer to several terms all of which have many connotations outside of wha t we are trying to imply. We will define them now for the purposes of our discussion: game Structured improvisational interaction between two or more performers, bound by specific rules developed over the fall '09 term. piece "Trees" and "You Are/We Are": what we created through our own individual compositional processes, each ending up with a finalized structure. the composition The overall plan for the performance event. The specific ordering of descriptions, demonstrations, games, and pieces. play Any one particular manifestation of a game, piece, or the composition during rehearsals. t est run The initial performance we held on Wednesday, January 27 th before a small volunteer audience. performance event Everything that happened in the performance space (which was primarily the College Hall Music Room, but also, during the intermission, the other public areas of the first floor of College Hall) on the afternoon of Sunday, January 31 st from the time when the first spectator arrived until the last spectators left the space. A Happening' From the very beginning planning stages of this project, we wanted to challenge the norms of conventional performance, p artially due to the i nfluence of studying the Flux artists. A "Happening" is a Fluxus performance where there are no spectators or performers, just partic ipants. These Happenings are not designed to educate or entertain but rather to make one's life, work, and experience more meaningful. Allan Kaprow a
83 visual artist in the 1950s and early 60s, started creating art pieces that enveloped the spectators, instead of pieces with a single focus. These enveloping collages were called "environments," and when l ive people became part of the artwork, the Happening was born (Higgins, foew&ombwhnw 19). There was no structured beginning, middle, or end, and there was no distinction or hierarchy between artist and viewer. It was the viewer's reaction that decided the art piece, making each Happening a unique experience that could not be replicated. By the time the "audience reactions were also cuing situations," says Higgins, "the performance audience separation was removed and a happening situation was established" (2 5). There was a certain element of randomness to these Happenings that made them less g overned by rules, and more determined by what happened in the exact moments in which these Happenings occurred. We were greatly influenced by Happenings even though we p lanned our composition to a greater degree We were inspired by the idea that an au dience may be forced to find their own means of experiencing a performance, so that they would not be able to sit and passively receive it. We wanted to challenge our audien ce to reflect on their position within the spectrum of the performance event. The Spectator as Participant In her book Space in Performance Gay McAuley gives the particularly insightful argument that both performers and audience play equal ro les in any performance event Although she focuses on traditional theater, her ideas are applicable to a broader range of performance art, such as our particular event. In a contemporary auditorium, the spectators sit in a darkened space, "aspiring to beco me a viewpoint and nothing more"
84 (235), separating themselves from the performance event that they are witnessing. For McAuley, there are three spheres of circumstance occurring during a performance event: the story or dramatic fiction that is being perf ormed, the knowledge of this performance or the presentational reality and the actual public event in which this performance is embedded, or its social reality (248). It is easiest to understand these spheres in a series of concentric circles: The dra matic fiction is contained within the presentational reality, and both of these are surrounded by the social reality. Each sphere of circumstance needs to exist for the event to b e a performance: "T he fact that the dramatic fiction can be experienced only through the presentational reality of the performance, and that both are embedded within that social reality of the event is crucial to the theater function" (251). Even when the audience is hidden behind the mask of darkness, they are still just as much a part of the space and the performance event as the performers. Because the performance is embedded in the social event, both the dramatic fiction and the presentational reality are always in danger of being taken ov er by the social. McAuley examines the h istory of the theater: at one point, actors could see the spectators and the spectators could see each other. It was understood that the feedback and goings on of the audience off stage was A representation of Gay McAuley's spheres of circumstance' present within any performance event.
85 just as important as what the actors were doing on stage. If the p lay itself did not captivate the spectators' attention, the dramatic fiction would be completely engulfed by the social reality surrounding it. Spectators would make fun of the performers, be loud and unruly, or even ascend the stage themselves, completely taking the focus away from the dramatic fiction McAuley argues that since the auditorium has been blacked out, the experience of theater going has irredeemably changed. Not only has the two way flow of energy between actor and audience been impeded, but the spectators can no longer see each other, which has led to quieter, more sedate audiences. C ertainly most of today's audiences would not step up on stage or yell vulgarities at the performers McAuley says, "T he look given between spectators is as impor tant as the spectators looking at the actors and vice versa in achieving a vital theatre experience" (268 ). It is this kind of thinking that leads McAuley to believe "T he audience is participating in the performance as cocreators rather than receivers" (27 5). Because the dramatic fiction, the presentational reality, and the social reality are all occurring simultaneously during every performance event, it is the tension among these thre e spheres of circumstance that constitute the grounds for theatricality. Because all of these circumstances are occurring simultaneously, it is essen tially the director( s) who choose s which of these to foreground at any given moment. The Holy Moment' Because t he raw materials of our pieces and games were vocal sound s and abs tract movement, we needed to frame our presentation so that people in the audience would be able to see past the fact that it strayed from more conventional performance
86 methods. We hoped that the audience members might glimpse something of our process, of what was important to us and what we wanted to convey. In determining the composition of our performance, we asked ourselves how we could make it representative of how our whole project had progressed. We did not want to simply show our pieces. We wanted to include the audience in the experience of the event, rather than present it to them, as you would show a photograph to someone who was absent the day it was taken. Even though we painstakingly planned every detail of the composition, the primary aim of our project was fostering an engaging and meaningful experience for our ensemble and audience. It was not to create and present the perfect composition. Traditionally, performers separate themselves from the audience before a show; this has held true even in the majority of the experimental performances in which we have been involved. In the case of our particular composition, however, it se emed more important to begin the show with a feeling of interconnectedness between audience and performer. We did not want to allow our performers to warm up in a different room and thus separate themselves from the atmosphere of the performance space. We wanted to create a holy moment, to quote the film Waking Life : We walk around like there' s some holy moments and ther e are all the other moments...that are not holy, but this moment is holy... We can frame it so that we see, like, Ah, this moment. Holy.' Like holy, holy, holy' moment by moment. But who can live that way? Who can go, Wow, holy' [in every moment]? The word holy' is not meant here in a religious way, but in the sense that everyo ne would be fully present, focused, co mmitted to the experience, and captured by the moment of the performance.
87 Part of creating a holy moment was contingent upon our ability to separate our performance event from more conventional performance in the way that the audience experiences it. In order to accomplish this goal, we had to undermine the assumed relationship between audience and performer. This idea is contextualized in Beh avior in Public Places when Goffman discusses the tendency for both patients at mental hospitals and children to use social misconduct in order to subvert the normative boundaries of everyday social situations: the use of situational improprieties as a w ay of doing something about one's relation to an official in the situation is merely one illustration of the more general fact that situational niceties and offenses are constantly used as a reflection of some kind on one's relation to specific other indiv iduals who are present" (228). We wanted to bring attention to our situation and subvert the implications of a traditional theater going experience by holding our audience accountable for their presence. This harkens back to McAuley's argument; we wante d to show the audience their true role as participants in the presentational and social realities of the performance event. Planning : Part 1 Upon discussing our ideas for the performance event, o ur thesis advisor made an invaluable suggestion: that we sp lit the performance event into two parts, one explaining our process and the other showing the products of that process. During the fir st half, we presented a speech we wrote to give the audience a sort of guidebook or map to our games and pieces. We asked each of our performers to write a short speech concerning his or her personal experience along with an explanation of som e aspect of the project. In
88 this way, our audience would be able to see that each member of our ensemble had a hand in the creation of our project We gave demo nstrations of "Leader/Follower," first in its simplest form and then with the imposition of constraints. Then at the end of the first half, we invited the audience to participate in "Soundscape" with us, giving them an experientia l context on which to base their impressions of the second half. As people entered the room before the start of the performance e vent, we planned to have our entire ensemble, ourselves included, standing in the doorways, handing out programs, comment card s, and pencils. We felt it was important to learn how people experienced the performance through the comment cards We invited the audience to write down anything they thought or felt during or after the performance event. Receiving this feedback was both highly satisfying as well as extremely useful in thinking about how best to present experimental work to audiences. We welcome d people in to the space personally because we did not want to isolate ourselves in another room before the event began. We felt th at a grand entrance would make i t much har der for us to identify with the audience and for them to identify with us. If we were present throughout the time that people were arriving, it would be as if we were inviting them into the warm embrace of our shar ed space. By welcoming our audience into the space personally, we were attemp ting to create the awareness of a holy moment. This effort was manifested in the words we spoke during the first half of the performance: Obviously our ensemble knows more about our particular process than you the audience, does. But you are just as important to th is experience as we are. We don' t just want to show you something, we want to share with you and engage you in this process. We are all creating this moment together. W e wrote this in the programs, but we want to invite you again to interact with the space during the performance. During intermission, we
89 will be changing the position of the chairs to a more unorthodox arrangement. Feel free to move about the room at any t ime, gaining new perspectives and even maybe i nteracting with the performers. Our candidness, reinforced by the arrangement of the chairs in the second half, was meant to make the audience aware that how they interacted with the space (and performers) cou ld change the course of the event. We wrote programs for the event that included biographies of our ensemble members and brief descriptions of our games and set pieces. We also included instructions for the game "Soundscape. Giving the audience a chan ce to play this game with us would allow them to catch a glimpse of what we had been doing for so many months prior to this event. Although we took great care in planning our event, we also had to realize for ourselves and convey to the audience that our goal in this project was not solely to create this composition. T he following is an excerpt from our script that touches upon this intention: Audience members and performers explore their individual sounds during the version of "Soundscape" in the first half of our performanc e event.
90 We wa nt to stress that the pieces we' ve c reated and will show today aren' t the point of this project. Th ey' re a pr oduct of our explorations, but any number of pieces could have come out of our work, and we had several ideas for pieces that, due to a limited amount of rehearsal time, never became more than just ideas. The most important part of our project has been cre ating a space for play, work, learning and transformation, for all of us as individuals, and for all of us as a group. This is what has been our inspiration, and this is what we wish to share. Planning : Part 2 After intermission, we showed the two pieces we created as well "Soundscape" and "Creature Meet and Greet," a variation of "Soundscape" invo lving movement as well as sound In addition we wanted to bring the audience into interactions that would further engage them. We decided on two different appr oaches: one involved a particular arrangement of the chairs for the audience. During the first half of the performance, the chairs were positioned in a wide semi circle, providing everyone with a relatively good view of the speakers and demonstrators (repr esented by the X '): A diagram of the seating arrangement and facing in the first half of our performance event.
91 For the second half, we completely rearranged the chairs, so that they were organized in sections of two to nine chairs, each section facing a different direction. The chairs were situated along the perimeter of the room with the main playing area for the performers in the center. T he clumps of chairs stood far enough away from the walls and from each other so that the performers were free to move behind and amongst the chair s, and therefore, the audience: We planned to have more chairs than people, so that the different facings of the chairs would give people the impetus to move to a chair facing a different direction in a different part of the room to give themselves a better A diagram of the seating arrangement and facing for the second half of our performance event. Performers were able to move through the audience due to special seating arrang e ment in the second half
92 view, or at least a new perspective. This would e nable the audience members to engage actively in the space, inhabiting it just as the performers would. We delineated among each game or piece during the second half by creating transitional moments. We created a task that we had to accomplish in between each piece that necessitated interaction with audience members. After the first piece in the second half, which was a showing of the game "Soundscape," we created the rule that before moving on to the next piece, which was "Trees," we had to mak e eye cont act with someone in the audience. We were not trying to make anyone overly uncomfortable by staring them down, but to catch someone else's gaze for longer than it takes to be caught off guard and look away. In doing this, we wanted to bring an element of o ur "Grounding" ritual to our audience. We wanted to establish some kind of contact, so that the other person would be able to say that a connection was established, however brief. After "Trees," we decided that each performer, one at a time, would ask some one in the audience for their seat. This, even more so than the eye contact task after "Soundscape," was meant to challenge the traditional disconnect between performers and audience. There was an element of the unknown in this task because we were asking rather than giving them an order. People could decline if they wished, and we would have to ask someone else, until we all found seats for the beginning of the next piece, "You Are/We Are." This was partially an experime nt to see how much authority we coul d impose, simply because we were the performers and they were the audience. At the end of "You Are/We Are," each of the five performers collapses on the floor in the middle of the performance space. Here we decided that Chrissy, who would be s itting in the audience throughout the piece, would come to each performer, one at a
93 time, bend down and motion for them to stand up. After getting all the performers up off the floor, she would approach a member of the audience and gesture in an attempt to get him to stand, and then give the same motion to the entire audience. Then, without giving any indication to the audience of whether they should sit down or not, all the performers would begin the next game, "Creature Meet and Greet," which begins with individual exploration of sound. This was another sort of experiment, to see whether the audience would sit back down when they saw that nothing further was being explicitly asked of them, or whether they would see this lack of direction as an invitation t o engage with the performance as they saw fit We had planned to end the composition by letting the last moment hold for a few seconds in silence and stillness, and then for us, the per formers, to break into applause for ourselves and for the a udience. Test Run We decided to give a preview of our composition before our performance event. This test run would serve a dual purpose. I t would give our ense mble an opportunity to become more comfortable exploring abstract sounds and movements in f ront of people external to our One performer is well focused on her task of exploring her sound in "Soundscape," even amidst a large audience.
94 rehearsal process. It would also allow us as directors to see how an audience would respond to our composition. We held this tes t run on Wednesday, January 27 th so that we would have a couple of days in between it and the pe rformance event in which to revise our composition based on the feedback of the test audience. The audience for this test run was made up of around a dozen fellow students, most of whom were currently engaged in performance work of some kind, the parents o f one of our ensemble members, and our thesis advisor. Prior to the test run, our ensemble members had all expressed some nervousness about focusing on creative exploration while in the presence of so many other people. They anticipated it being difficult to focus so intently while being aware of people watching them. After the test run, however, we all felt more confident in our ability to stay centered in the momentary performative tasks and the composition as a whole, as well as more comfortable with al lowing our creative impulses to guide us during active engagement with a space that included an audience. After the end of the test run we invited everyone to stay for an informal discussion, during which they could ask questions of us, and we could ask th em specific questions about our composition T he audience involvement in "Soundscape" went very well during the test run. Though the added audience participants certainly changed the atmosphere of the game it was a small enough group so that we could al l interact with each other while still observing the whole of our sonic creation The last section of the composition was a performance of the game "Creature Meet and Greet." Because the transition immediately preceding this game left the audience standin g, they were unsure whether or not to participate. At the test run, no one
95 from the audience joined in, but no one sat back down either. They ended up gathering in a circle around the performers, who were clumped together in the center of the space at the end of the piece, but they remained spectators. The arrangement of the chairs during the test run worked well, since we had many more chairs than audience members. They were free to get up and move around at any point, and they did take advantage of this, though some did more than others. At the test run, we neither handed out programs nor stopped to recognize the end of one piece or game and the start of another. This was due in part to the fact that we had developed the games and pieces to flow into one another, even involving the positioning of the entrances and exits of the performers betwe en "Trees" and "You Are/We Are." S ome of the audience members during the post test run discussion expressed that it was somewhat frustrating and bewildering to be aw are that there were distinct pieces, but not receive any indication of where one stopped and the next began. This sentiment was strongly echoed by our thesis advisor. So we decided to find the best way to mark the end of a piece, without disrupting the flo w of the second half too abruptly. Our advisor initially suggested that the performers of each piece move to the center of the space and take a bow. We did not particularly like that idea because of how well the entrances and exits into and out of the spac e had developed. We also had reservations about so conventional a means of extracting praise from an audience, since much of our thought about how to construct this composition was in critique of traditional performance norms. We felt that bowing (which, w ithin the context of western performance typically means that those bowing are hoping to be applauded), would go against our goal of lessening the rift between performers and audience. But we had trouble finding a better alternative, and
96 so at the final r ehearsal after our test run we discus sed this plan with our ensemble. T hey however, were all very uncomfortable with the idea and strongly opposed it. After some brainstorming, we decided to end each piece with a single clap. This idea actually came abou t during the fall rehearsals when one or the both of us would clap to stop a game that did not have a clear ending. A single clap is both resonant and relatively unobtrusive, delineating the end of the pieces with the clarity necessary, and allowing the f low of the performance to continue unbroken. We were very relieved that our ensemble was as uncomfortable with the idea of breaking up our performance with bowing as we were, and were assured enough to speak up about it. We were all much happier with the p lan involving the single claps. The first time we rehearsed the whole composition we were all so energized from the experience that we ended up running and dancing around the room as we clapped to our imaginary audience. It was a moment of pure joy and f un, but somehow it stuck, and at the test run, we did this same thing, only our audience was definitely not imaginary. All of the performers ran around, clapping t o different people and cheering We did not exactly expect that this would happen in performa nce, and when it did, some members of our audience became uncomfortable At the discussion afterward s some of them told us that when we ran around and clapped, it felt de meaning and almost mocking This was the exact opposite of our intention; we had mean t to clap for our audience as a heartfelt gesture of thanks and appreciation of their presence and part in the experience. Based on this feedback, we reigned in the excitable impulses of our ensemble, and told our performer s that while we would still appla ud we would also stand still in the center of the r oom and simply turn to face the audience as we applauded This would help us to not
97 offend our audience, but instead to show our real gratitude for them. The fact that we also ended each piece with a cla p helped because we w ould be giving the audience permission to applaud at the end of each section of the second half. Then at the end of the performance, they would know it was over and could show their appreciation for the performers while we were showin g our appreciation for them. Performance Event On Sunday, January 31 st over 85 people showed up to the College Hall Music Room to attend our final performance event. When we invited our audience to participate in "Soundscape," at least tw o thirds of th em joined in. This meant that the all sounds together created a veritable cacophony. There were so many people involved that it was virtually impossible to interact with and hear each individual's chosen sound. Even so, there was much more milling about an d people leaning their ears cl ose to hear other people's sounds as distinct from the general clamor. The final section of "Soundscape" involves forming Audience participants and performers form a large circle while playing "Soundscape"
98 a circle and finding a shared group impulse to end. As one audience member astutely noted on their comm ent card, "T he group felt the impulse to stop, but some people wanted to test its reality. The group almost allowed this to lead into a new cycle, but the impulse held." This incarnation of "Soundscape" was very exciting for us, since this vibrant sonic ju ngle is actually much closer to our initial concept for the game than what it eventually became with our group. The general response from audience members was that participating in "Soundscape" helped them to engage in experiencing the second half of the e vent more actively, which was exactly our intention. At this ev ent we had more audience members than we had chairs. This was unexpected; we had estimated our audience number and then set up more chairs than we thought we would need so that people coul d move around du ring the event, just as they had in the test run. Since there were no empty seats at the event, people did not move around much, although a few audience members who had also been a part of the test audience did switch positions around the r oom, attempting to invigorate other audience members to the same end. Although we were not able to give the audience the ability to comfortably find new perspectives within the space a few of them did give positive feedback on the effe ct of the arrangemen t of chairs. At the performance event, we told the audience during the first half that the single clap would be the marker of the tra nsition between pieces. T he audience applauded at these transitions, but not because we elicited such a response by bowing, and the composition did not feel overly segmented.
99 We decided at the last minute that due to the large number of people in attendance, and the lack of empty seats, only two of us would ask for people' s chairs during the transition between "Tress" and "Yo u Are/We Are We did no t want to force five audience members to stand or sit on the floor, because we thought this might be too much to ask. Our aim in this was to make our audience more comfortable, while keeping intact the challenging effect of the tran sition. We received the following comments from the audience regarding "Creature Meet and Greet:" At end, not certain whether you wanted us to join in and create own sound/movement I wanted to but not certain that' s what you wanted. Would have been fun to do so." "The end of the piece represented my views on New College social dynamics and life in general, both guiding and suffocating." Although some audience members felt unsure about the extent of their participation in this final game, some daring audience members took it upon themselves to create creatures of their own, complete with sound and movement, and to move about the space They did this even though we did not explain the rules of the Performers and audience interact at the end of "Creature Meet and Greet"
100 game, and did not specifically invite them to join in w ith us. However, when we spoke during the first half, we did explicitly invite participation and interaction with the space and the performers at any time during the performance. We were delighted that people in the audience had taken so well to "Soundscap e" that when we approached them as creatures during "Creature Meet and Greet" they were ready and able to respond with an abstract sound, that is to engage with us in the mode of communication we had chosen to utilize. Discussion After the test run a nd the performance event, we reflected on our project in terms of McAuley's spheres of circumstance. As directors, we were highlight ing the presentational reality of the situation through our first half, the arrangement of the c hairs ( which forced the audi ence to be surrounded by the performance space), and the transitional moments, when the spectators were held accountable for their presence as audience. The dramatic fiction of our performance event had less to do with a storyline and more to do with the i nteraction of sound and movement thr ough our games and pieces. The social reality was manifested in greeting the audience before the show, interaction during the intermission (some performers ate food and talked with the audience), and discussion between p erformers and audience after the event was over At the same time, there were occurrences during the performance event in which two or more spheres or circumstance were happening at the same time. We used games in the second half of the performance that w ere meant to highlight the social realities of everyday life. "Leader/Follower" was performed for the audience as a dramatic fiction,
101 but it was also meant to inform the social reality of regular communicative interaction between people. There were moments during the dramatic fiction of our pieces where the performers were encouraged to interact with the au dience and vice versa; these moments were also confronting the presentational reality of the situation O n a more personal level, these moments acknowled ged the social reality, in that the performer and the spectator are just two people in a room, and both can be held accountable for their presence in the situ ation. The more confrontational transitional moments were meant both to hold our audience accounta ble for being co creators and to bring to their attention that they were in play, and that therefore they could be expected to perform just as the performers would be W e tried to blur the boundaries of these spheres of circumstance, and although we did hi ghlight the presentational reality more than the dramatic fict ion or the social reality we foregrounded each sphere at different points during the event. We were also aware that our control over the performance event had a limit, and the rest was ultimately determined by the ephemeral moment in which the event occurred. The reality of the moment only accentuated our intentions as directors, and was perhaps the only aspect of our performance event that occu rred perfectly. McAuley says, "I nstead of reassurance of repeatablilty, there is the knowledge that the performance is unique, can never be repeated, and furthermore that the spectators' presence, behavior, and response is a part of this event, instead of completeness and closure there is an on going process whereby the work continues to evolve and change throughout the run of performances" (245). Our audience as well as our performers (though slightly less so) always had the freedom to choose what to focus on during the performance event, and th is made the experience different for each person involved.
102 Chapter 5 : Conclusion We have grown by leaps and bounds through this process: as individuals, as part of a group, as directors, performers, and writers. Though this document, we have discussed t he progress of our project through each phase. This discussion has largely consisted of how we felt about the project as it was happening. In this conclusion, we will look back on our progress and reflect upon the project as a whole. We will consider ea ch phase of our project, explore the larger implications of our work, and explain our collaborative writing process. Fall 09 Workshopping and Rehearsals Because we had already had many previous eye opening experiences with other experim ental performance groups and processes, as directors, we set out to shape an experience that would essentially give our group members the opportunity to experience the most meaningful aspects of what we had already discovered. One of these aspects was the workshopping and exploration of experimental structures; we would have liked for this phase in our project to evolve further Our structure is open ended; it neither begs a conclusion nor requires one in order for it to be effective or affective. Howeve r, time has been an ever present limitation of our project. We could have held open, exploratory rehearsals with our group for as long as a year before fina lly setting a piece. But because of the limited amount of time we had for this thesis project, we had to take those limitations in stride and do what we could to develop our technique and our ensemble as rapidly as possible.
103 Here is an excerpt from a group member's personal feedback in mid October, about halfway through our fall rehearsals: "I am becom ing accustomed to performing these exercises. Having internalized the instructions for most pieces, I can increase my focus and strive to find my center ." January Composing and Directing Prior to our project, s ome of our ensemble members had experience with being directed for the purpose of a final performance; most of them had previously participated in more traditional performances, such as theater or dance. Others, while they had experience with performance of some sort in front of an audience, had n ever been specifically directed. Still others had no experience in this realm at all. As leaders, we had to learn to work with a group that had different levels of experience with directors. During January rehearsals, we started asking only two people to play a game at a time. This meant that we as directors and the rest of our ensemble were all able to observe them This caused some initial performance anxiety; sometimes one performer would freeze up or continuously look towards her audience in confusion or hesitation. As time went on, individuals became much more comforta ble with this new style of play Other issues, such as sacrifice of control to the directors, were more difficult for some ensemble members to overcome. One member in particular had tr ouble with completely following direct ions; one of us would tell him to do something specific during play, and he would proceed without doing what was asked. Upon questioning this performer about why he did not follow directions, he would answer that eithe r he forgot or he did not feel like doing what was asked of him. This became an issue especially
104 during the creation and rehearsal of our individual pieces, because without the complete cooperation of each performer, the whole idea of a piece could potent ially fall apart. Aside from this issue though, the transition our group had to make from ensemble members to performers was relatively smooth, and by the end of the January term not only were they ready to perform the pieces we had created for them, but they were excited to do so. While the rest of our group had to deal with losing agency, we as directors had to step up to the task of being completely responsible for every moment of rehearsal, making sure to use our time wisely. At first we were very d aunted with our task, mostly because we were ful ly aware of the extreme dynamic shift necessary in order for us to be able to perform a completed composition at the end of January. We had to shift the balance of control gradually from a shared responsibili ty between the two of us to the individ ual responsibility of each director composing a piece This shift may have helped us more than it helped our ensemble because they only understood things as we presented them in real time, whereas we knew our goals be forehand and had to be aware of the progress of our gr oup as we were changing our roles. This is the point at which we separated ourselves from the group substantially, with the exception of Caitlin being a performer in Chrissy's final set piece. We finall y told our ensemble about the concepts for the performance event, how we were going to manifest them, and how that would affect their roles as ensemble members. In this way, we gave them more information than we ever had during the fall about our goals fo r the project while at the same time taking away their ability to question those goals.
105 The most difficult and rewarding part of this directorial stage was assuming creative control over a specific piece. Through the creation of the piec es "Trees" and "Y ou Are/We Are," each of us was finally able to allow our individual artistic visions to show through the actions of our ensemble. This was another new di stinction between us as directors; we were finally able to claim something as our own w ithin this stru cture. This put more pressure on us giving each director total control over the ideas and physical orchestration in her piece It was a challenge to take an open ended structure and create a defined performance piece from that, and in many ways it comp le tely opposed the nature of the process itself Furthermore, it became difficult not to expect perfection from our pieces as well as our performers, knowing that this was to be a reflection of our group process. By the end of our directorial stage, and th rough much analysis and discussion of the prospect of showing set pieces to an aud ience, we directors had settled into the fact that our performance pieces were not the end all be all of our group process. We found comfort in the fact that t he development of the process and the ensemble itself was the true fruit of our labor, and that the performance would be merely a glimpse into that process. Performance Planning and Event The performance aspect of our project was a process in itself, start ing with the planning, moving through the test run, and ending with the final performance event. We knew that not ev eryone who wanted to attend would be able to, but there still managed to be quite a confluence of different groups of people. The audience was largely made up of New College students, sprinkled with faculty and staff members and a number of
106 immediate and extended family membe rs of ours This merged many connected and/or concentric social circles into one for the duration of the event. The d ivision of ou r performance into an explanatory half and a performative half was very beneficial for our audience members. There were multiple comment cards that touched upon this : "The collaboration between you two was very evident, particularly in the co ordination of your spoken explanation" "I liked that the people making the presentation included everyone in the ensemble" "I lov ed hearing about the performers' experiences" "The explanations given by Chrissy and Caitlin at the front end were very helpful and informative they set the context for what was to come... Since the piece was process centered, it was important for the audience to understand how you arrived where you did and you accomplished that. I also liked that e very ensemble member did a self introduction. I t helped us in the audience to humanize' them r ather than just seeing them as performers' only." According to the audience, the first half was effective in these ways: we provided them with a context for th e pieces they were about to see, we showed them our collaborative leadership through our well executed script, and we helped them to see our group members as relatable people through hearing each member explain a bit of the process as well as his or her ow n personal experience. Without framing our performance pieces within the larger project, the audience would have missed the most important aspect of this process, which was the forming of the structure and the ensemble. As many good things were said abo ut the first half, there w ere also some critiques mostly about the ratio of explanation to demonstration: "Talking during the 1 st act was long and could be d isp ersed better with more interactive pieces"
107 "Thought part 1 could be more/longer demos and les s talking as the demos are more, well, demonstrative. Would like to know even more about how simple games evolved to more complicated interactions" We could have been more demonstrative and less explanatory i n our first half, which would have been more in tu ne with our actual process If we had planned on creating a more explanatory/demonstrative section of the performance from the beginning of January, this section could have gone through many more revisions and perhaps would have yielded more demonstrati ons. Part of the reason we did not develop our first half further, or think about it as scrutinizingly as we did our actual pieces, was that we only decided to structure our composition this way a week before the actual performance event Therefore, the im plications of such a structure and pr esentation did not fully develop within the context of our goals and larger process. In general, however, the first half worked out well and gave the audience information and context that the second half could not have done on its own. The audience generally enjoyed the unorthodox seating arrangement in the second half : "Varied seating made cool and different perspectives for audience." This and other positive comments about the seating were interesting especially becaus e we had originally planned for there to be more seats than people, which would allow audience members to actually interact with the space much more than they did during the final performance. Gay McAuley says that "in open spaces that do not have a curtai n, the separation [of stage and auditorium] is felt very strongly nevertheless and it seems that the performer creates a kind of energized zone around him or her that the spectator, even when free to move anywhere at will, is loath to enter" (276).
108 As muc h as we tried to encourage the audience to move around the space, it seemed that the energized zones the performers created still detracted a udience members from entering them During both the test run and th e performance event, any time audience member s moved through the space, they only breached the periphery, avoiding the center In the end, though, it seemed that the seati ng arrangement allowed the audience to feel more exposed and able to interact with the space and performers, even if they were not moving through the space: "I liked the arr angement of the seats in the 2 nd half; the audiences' reactions became a part of the spectacle itself this way." There was also much said about the dynamic between audience and performers that showed us we were on the right track: "The dynamic formed between performers and audience was filled with energy. The audience was able to participate, making the entire performance tangible to spectators not familiar with the subject." "Very creative process, obviously very empowering for both pe rformers and audience, promotes co creative interaction." "The audience engagement was a very challenging and exciting line you pushed I didn't fully appreciate it till the end." "Especially in the last p iece, the comfort level o f the performers' and the audience' was thought provoking." So we did make the audience feel a part of the performance, although it is difficult to tell whether this happened because of our explanation of our goals or the existing action of the pieces. There were some audience members who wanted to participate more, or at least wanted other audience members to participate along with them:
109 "There is a large possibility of people joining in and making up th eir own creatures if you prod them a bit more. Maybe people just prefer being audience rather than performers. "People should have moved more! I tried! But there were no empty seats." "My only suggestion is that because this sort of performance leads itself so much to audience participation (being an exercise in communication or whatever), encourage people to participate more. Otherwise, people sometimes are left feeling alienated." According to some audience members, we should have pushed people harder to participate in the more interactive oppo rtunities available to them during our show. In this case, we can refer to Goffman's "tightness vs. looseness" involvement structure. Goffman determines how loose or tight a situation is by how strict the social code is within that situation. This social code can be anything from expected physical appearance, to etiquette, to expected behavior. An example of a tight situation would be a baptism; all involved are subject to a strict code of dress, conduct, and overall duty as participants. An example of a loose involvement structure would be a picnic at a public park, where dress is informal, social conduct is relatively loose, and no one participant has any strict duty. Goffman says, "T he individual tends to avoid gatherings where more commitment will be demanded than he is in a position to give at the time, the implication being that enough concern for the occasion would be too much for him" ( Behavior in Public Places 206). The concept of a performance event already holds certain connotations as far as the tightness or looseness of the involvement structure, but during our first half, we attempted to alter those preconceived connotations and replace them with what we had in mind. This show was such an experiment for us that we were very unce rtain, even after the test run,that our audience would want to participate at all. We knew from the test run
110 that we made people feel comfortable enough to enjoy the more idiosyncratic parts of our performance, but we were not completely certain that a bigger group of people would b e as willing to participate Usually, the more people there are in an audience, the easier it is to fade into the background or remain anonymous. Playing "Soundscape" with the audience at the performance event proved to us that not only w as a large group of people ready to try one of our games but that they were almost more excited and willing to do so because of the sheer number of people involved. Getting up during the performance was a different story, especially because there were no empty seats. If our performance space had been bigger or we had reserved more chairs for the final performance, results might have been different. Through the comments we received, it was clear to us that people were ready to be challenged as an audience Perhaps we did not convey the looseness of the situation well enough to make our audience feel comfortable with moving around the space more. This could have to do with their connotations of traditional performance or perhaps the flaws in the framework we set for the audience during the first half, but it was probably a little bit of both Larger Implications This performance event raises a lot of questions for us as artists, performers, directors, and composers: How far can performers or directors pla n to push their audience towards interaction before it becomes unbearable? We only pushed our audience so far in our performance event. Our aim was to make our audience feel comfortable in the space we created rather than uncomfortable. In the end, althou gh we wanted our audience to
111 participate, we did not want to force them to do anything. Many artists both in the past and in the present have pushed their audiences much further than we did here: take Fluxus as an example. Many Fluxevents did not have "p erformers" and "audience" as much as they had pure participants; everyone was expected to join in. We wanted our work to foster a desire to participate and not scare our audience into doing som ething they did not want to do. In the end, this question has more to do with how a particular performance event is framed, and less to do with making an audience uncomfortable. To what extent should this kind of performance event be interactive versus demonstrative? It was clear from our comment cards that some aud ience members wanted our first half to be more demonstrative versus explanatory, and that everyone responded positively to the interactive portions of our performance event. Referring back to Schechner's assertion that the workshop is filling a void in our modern age of technology, which fosters global communities over local ones, one possible answer to this question would be that there should not have been a performance event at all, but rather a series of workshops sharing our games and methods in an enti rely interactive way. We can see our performance event as the first step toward developing such a workshop, in which we gained the confidence in the reception and interest in our project we would need in order to move toward less presentational forms of sh aring our methods. What are the implications of doing art that is solely based on the moment in which it is being presented? The holy moment, of course! Art that is solely based on the moment in which it is presented has the potential to deemphasize the p rocess of creating it, unless the art is created in the moment in which it is presented. There was definite planning and intention in our process, and during the first half of our
112 performance, we made sure to convey this to the audience. I n this sense, it was not based solely on the moment in which it was being presented. However, one of our intentions was to highlight the importance of being in the moment, which was an integral part of our process and our performance event. What are the implications of do ing art that is solely based on the moment in which it is created? This sort of art has the potential to express very hear tfelt experiences, but if it is based only in the moment of its creation, and no preparation or thought goes into its presentation, th en there is the distinct possibility that the initial life of the art will not be able to effectively reach an audience. For a piece of art to be received in a meaningful way by a perceiver external to its creation, it must be somewhat universalized or ma de accessible. Our project was primarily focused on the moments of its creation but we did attempt to present this process in an accessible way How/why is it important for a director to create a discourse for the experimental work that she is presenting ? We created the first half of our performance event spe cifically to provide a means of understanding our process for our audience. When a director creates a discourse for her work, especially a written document, it creates a means for future generations of artists to learn from their predecessors. Learning from our predecessors has been an invaluable experience, and so we feel it is important to contribute to the development of experimental performance rhetoric. What are the advantages/disadvantages of cr eating a socially recursive performance piece? One advantage is developing a community of participants who are active in their roles and also aware of those roles. This fosters an art community, as opposed to separate entities who do not acknowledge the f act that they are always
113 interacting and through that interaction creating a whole, which is what we call a performance event. However, this can dow nplay the dramatic fiction of a piece so muc h so that that fictional aspect of a performance event would be lost to the reality of the situation. Theater is unique in that it creates a fictive world that people can experience firsthand. A rt needs to fulfill its social function again, and the only way for it to do that is for artists to make people aware that art has a social function. I n this project we were trying to transform our conception of art's function, and bring attention to the function of art for others as well. How can art build community? Rehearsals are like ritual in that they create a ti me and a sp ace that is separate from everyday life. In both rehearsals and rituals, composed behavior specific to that time and space is develop ed and continually revisited. I n this development of a specialized state of consciousness, individuals are brought togethe r through sharing this specialized state. C omposing performance events and organizing art openings involve various participants on multiple levels: performers, directors, advisors, producers, managers, sponsors, spectators, audience members, etc. These ev ents are way s to celebrate and bring to life participants' efforts. So long as art remains within the social arena, it will build community. The task now is for artists to acknowledge this fact and bring intention to the type of community they build and th e way in which they do it. How can ar t build attention and awareness for its creators and participants ? Art is fundamentally an expression of something that an individual or group of individuals believes is important enough to convey to others. In this sen se, any art brings attention and awareness to something, but this process does not always develop an
114 individual's attention and awareness. In order for art to develop these skills, it must be process oriented rather than product oriented. If you are focuse d solely on an end, the means becomes unimportant. We believe that the journey, rather than the destination, has the potential to develop your attention and awareness, if you first bring attention and awareness to the process. This question of process vers us product is part of a larger question about the function of art; we believe that art is a product of its time, but also should reflect actively on the social and historical context out of which it arises. This necessitates the reflexive reworking of the conception of art, and developing attention and awareness through that conception. Writing Collaboratively Our final discussion will be a reflection upon the process of creating this document itself. We have already discussed at length the collabo rative processes of leading our group and creating our composition. What we have not discussed is writing collaboratively, which is what we have been doing since the end of our performance event. It has been extremely difficult for us to describe our proce ss, when the most important aspect of our project was the actual experience, and not the ideas behind it. But the reflexivity of our project was intentionally built in to our experience of it. Whereas our writing has been wholly reflexive, our experience was both recursive and focused on the moment, focally attentive and globally aware, if you will. It has proved to be equally important for us to explain our project not only to convey our ideas to others and to process them for ourselves, but also to legit imize our project through defining it. There is an ephemeral quality to this work that we have created which words can never approach, but the attempt has forced us to confront our own conceptions of art a nd of our process in
115 particular. This has brought a bout further development in our personal understandings of art, its place in society, our place in the art world, and the place of art making in our own lives. We decided to write a single document for which we would both be responsible We wanted to feel confident in the expression of our shared vision as well as what we individually brought to the project. To this end, we had to figure out how to divide the labor between us. For part of this writing process, one of us would write an entire chapter and th e other would do extensive editing which often included adding material to complete the discussion. There were other chapters for which we each wrote our own pieces simultaneously, and then fused these pieces together into a single, coherent unit. There we re still other chapters, specifically the interludes as well as this conclusion, for which one of us would type as the other spoke her thoughts aloud. A s the typer felt the impulse to begin leading, she would han d over the computer so that the previous sp eaker would be come the new typer, and so on. In a sense, we were playing a game of "Leader/Follow er" or even "Conversation" as we wrote these chapters These purely and equally collaborative sections were perhaps the most enjoyable and time consuming to w rite. Since we were working in tandem with each other the whole time, it was difficult for us to write completely separately, but we were forced to do so in order to descr ibe our individual pieces in Chapter 3 In the context of thesis writing in general, but specifically at New College of Florida, this collaborative project is unorthodox. A s Schechner so simply puts it, the chief function of the avant garde is to pr opose models for change: to be in advance'" ( Between Theater and Anthropology 117). While we do not identify ourselves with the
116 avant garde and all of the associations that go along with that term, we have been proposing and carrying out new models for collaborat ive endeavors throughout this process. These endeavors include leading a group, cre ating art and performance events, and writing academic ally We have effectively demonstrated that not only is it possible to write a collaborative t hesis, but it is an enriching and healthy experience with potentially more benefits than disadvantages. Of c ourse, for this statement to hold, you need a partner who is dedicated, willing, and open to idea sharing and constructive criticism. Luckily, both of these writers are extremely happy to be working with one another, even in the final scene of this produc tion. In our case, we both saw the fish and grabbed it out of the water AT THE SAME TIME, and the product was this project.
117 APPENDIX Chrissy and Caitlin's Thesis Games Grounding L ie on your back in a circle, eyes closed. Take in your own se lf, calming your mind and body, brea thing deeply. Gradually spread awareness from yourself to your environment, including the others around you as well as the space that you are inhabiting. Sit up, open your eyes, and take in the other people in the circle by looking each person in the eyes at least once. After taking in each individual, feel the composite energy of the group. Once everyone has locked in, feel the group impulse to stand up. Once standing, take in a deep breath all together and let it out on an audible sigh. Soundscape Everyone stands dispersed in a space, eyes closed. One person initiates a sound on an impulse. Others join in gradually. Each person is allowed to explore or change their sound gesture as much as they want until they find a g esture they can commit to performing until the end. When the final sound is chosen, each person opens their eyes and puts their hands on their hips, signaling a stable gesture to the rest of the group. Each member can then explore how their gesture fits in to the fabric of the group soundscape. Once everyone has locked in on their sound, the group must find an impulse to end together. Sound Morphology The group decides which direction the impulse should travel. Everyone sits in a circle, eyes closed. One pe rson finds the impulse to make a vocal sound gesture, and then stops. The next person must repeat the gesture she just heard and then elaborate with a new vocal gesture. Each successive person must only repeat and elaborate off of the sound t hat came imme diately before him Leader/Follower* This exercise is to be done in pairs. One person is the leader and the other is the follower. One person makes sound and the other movement. There are four possible combinations to be made with leader/follower, sound er/mover. If the leader was sounding, they would "command" the follower with sound, and the follower would react to the leader's "commands" with movement. Although we did not create this game (it was taught to us by Margaret Eginton, the acting Profess or at New College), we are including it here because most of the games that follow were developed out of it.
118 Chain Reaction Everyone stands in a circle and decides as a group which direction the impulse will travel. One person initiates a simple sound o r movement gesture on an impulse and then stops. After she stop s the next person in the circle translates the gesture from sound to movement or vice versa and simultaneously elaborates upon that gesture. The impulse travels around the circle ad infinitum. Let it be known that if you have an even number of people, each person will always only be sounding or moving, but if you have an odd number of people, the sound/movement role will be switched each time the impulse travels around the circle. Reverb This is just like Chain Reaction in that everyone stands in a circle and the impulse travels around it, shifting from sound to movement, but whereas in chain reaction each person executes a single gesture and stops, in Reverb the actions are continuous. One pe rson starts the impulse, and as soon as it travels all the way around the circle, even the person who initiated the impulse will be following the person before him In this way, Reverb differs from Chain Reaction because in Reverb everyone is both a follow er and a leader at the same time. They are following the person that is situated before them in the circle while simultaneously leading the person that comes after them. Grapevine Reverb in a line. The person at one end of the line initiates a sound or m ovement. This impulse travels all the way down the line until it gets to the other end. The person at the other end of the line can then fo llow the person in front of her for as long as she like s and when she is ready, switch the direction of the impulse by switching from either sound to movement or movement to sound. The person who was previously her leader now becomes her fol lower and must also switch his action. This impulse must also travel all the way down the line, and then again it is the decision of the person on the other end when to begin the new impulse, etc. Conversation Like Leader/Follower in that it is to be performed in a pair with one sounder and one mover. However, in Conversation, the power dynamic is equal, meaning there is no designa ted leader or follower, but there is still communication between the partners. Opposition This is played in pairs, like Leader/Follower. However, instead of one person leading and one person following, the person who is w orking off of the leader does not simply react in agre ement with the leader. Instead, she directly oppose s what the leade r is doing. This involves a two step analytical process on the part of the opposer. First she must choose an aspect of the sound or movement of the leader t o isolate an d oppose, and then must translate that aspect from sound to movement or vice versa. Leader/Chooser Like Leader/Follower. The follower follows by agreeing with what the leader is doing, until he get s bored with or dislike s what the leader is doing. Then th e
119 follower directly opposes the leader until the leader does something that the follower enjoys again, at which point the follower switches back to following the leader. Starts the same way as A, but when the follower get s bored with or dislike s what the l eader is doing, rather than opposing their leader, she leaves her leader and find s a new leader to follow. This means that at any given point during the game, there may be a leader with multiple followers, and there may be a leader without any followers. Find the Leader Before the game starts, everyone decides together whether the leaders are sounding or moving. Each person then privately decides whether to be a leader or follower. When everyone is ready, the leaders start their designated action, and the followers choose who m to follow. Followers can switch leaders at any point. The roles are also dynamic; if a leader is tired of leading, or does not seem to be attracting any followers, he can change to being a follower, which involves switching his actio n between sound and movement. The followers can also choose to become a leader at any point, if they feel they could lead better than the current leaders. The goal for the leaders is to attract as many followers as possible, while the goal for the follower s is to choose the best leader to follow, or step up and become a leader if there are no effective leaders. Keep the Balance This is a Leader/Follower based game. When the follower gets bored or disinterested with what the leader is doing, she directly o ppose s the leader and in doing so become s the leader. The leader t hen becomes the follower until he get s bored or disinterested with what the new leader is doing, and the same opposition and role reversal occurs. This requires astute awareness of the inten tion of the follower. Compromise Everyone stands in a circle facing outwards. Everyone explores movement until they find a short, repetitive movement phrase that they are interested in repeating. Once everyone ha s chosen their phrase, they turn in to fac e the center of the circle and b egin repeating their phrase. Each person continues until he/she get s bored with his/her own phrase, at which point he/she find s another phrase in the group to copy. Once a person has moved on to a different phrase and if th at original phrase is not being repeated by anyone else in the circle, it cannot be brought back and no new phrases can be introduced. This process continues until everyone reaches unison. Only when unison is reached does everyone in the circle face outwar ds again and create s a new phrase. Steps repeat indefinitely.
120 Other Games These games were shown or taught to us, and though we did not perform most of them in our final event, we used them frequently throughout our fall and January rehearsals. F locking The group stands close together all facing the same direction. The person furthest to the front of the group, dictated by the direction they are facing, is the leader. The leader makes slow and followable movements. The rest of the group attempt s to stay in unison, mimicking the movements of the leader as the leader is making them. The group should lo ok like a "flock" so that an outsider watching would not know who was leading the movement. The leader must, at some point, pass off the leadershi p by turning to face a new direction so that whoever is furthest to the front in that direction becomes the leader. This can happen any number of times. (Margaret Eginton) Choral Reflection One person is the designated leader and stands facing the rest o f the group, which is clustered together, facing the leader. The leader makes a short movement phrase and then stops. The "chorus" must then mirror that phrase back to the leader in perfect unison. It is suggested that the group take in a breath together before mirroring the phrase. The leader can make a phrase as many times as he want s but the leadership role should eventually switch It is suggested, but not necessary that each member of the group get the chance to be leader at least once. (Margaret Eg inton) Yes And This is a game for pairs. One person is the mover and the other is the "director." The mover starts movin g on an impulse, in any way she want s At any t ime, the director may say "yes," which means the mover must stop what she is doing and move in a new way, or "yes, and which means the mover must take the movement she is currently performing further. Let it be known that the director is not always obligated to tell t he mover anything. Instead, he should only pass judgment when he has a s trong aversion to or is intrigued by the movement he sees. (Margaret Eginton) Movement Morphology Everyone stands at one side of the room. One person finds an impulse to initiate a repetitive movement across the floor. After that, others can elaborate of f of the movement that came before them, also moving across the floor in a repetitive pattern. Any number of people can move across the floor at the same time, as long as they are elaborating a movement that came before them, and are always making sure th at there is someone moving across the floor. (Pilobolus Dance Theater)
1 21 Vocal Sequence We used these exercises, designed for actors to develop and rehearse lines as well as to warm up their voice, as a means of structuring our open ended explorations o f sound: Blau, Herbert. "Deep Throat." The Dubious Spectacle: Extremeties of Theater, 1976 2000 Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2002. 127 131. Teach Yourself to Fly Any number of persons sit in a circle facing the center. Illumin ate the space with a dim blue light. Begin by simply observing your own breathing. Always be an observer. Gradually allow your breathing to become audible. Then gradually introduce your voice. Allow your vocal chords to vibrate in any mode which occurs nat urally. Allow the intensity to increase very slowly. Continue as long as possible naturally, until all others are quiet, always observing your own breath cycle. (Pauline Oliveros. Sonic Meditations Smith Publications: 1974, I.) Zina's Circle Stand togeth er in a circle, with eyes closed facing the center. One person is designated, the transmitter. After observing the breathing cycle, individually, gradually join hands. Then slowly move back so that all arms are stretched out and the size of the circle incr eased. Next stretch the arms towards center and move in slowly. Finally move back to the normally sized circle, with hands still joined, standing so that arms are relaxed at sides. Return attention to breathing. When the time seems right, the transmitter s tarts a pulse that travels around the circle, by using the right hand to squeeze the left hand of the person next to her. This squeeze should be quickly and sharply made, to resemble a light jolt of electricity. The squeeze must be passed from left hand to right hand and on to the next person as quickly as possible. The action should become so quick that it happens as a reflex, before the person has time to consciously direct the squeeze. Simultaneously with the squeeze, each person much shout hah This sho ut must come up from the center of the body (somewhere a little below the navel) before passing through the throat. There must be complete abdominal support for the voice. When the first cycle is complete, the transmitter waits for a long time to begin the next cycle. When the reaction time around the circle has become extremely short, the transmitter makes the cycles begin closer and closer together, until a new transmission coincides with the end of a cycle, then continue trying to speed up the reaction t ime. If attention and awareness are maintained, the circle depending on its size, should be shouting almost simultaneously. (Pauline Oliveros. Sonic Meditations Smith Publications: 1974, XV.)
122 Works Cited Coffee and Cigarettes Screenplay by Rober to Benigni and Jim Jarmusch. Dir. Jim Jarmusch. Cinesthesia Productions, 1986. Bogart, Anne, and Tina Landau. The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2005. Bourdieu, Pierre. The Field of Cultural Production Ed. Randal Johnson. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1993. Bruder, Melissa, et al. A Practical Handbook for the Actor New York: Random House, 1986. Burger, Peter. Theory of the Avante Garde Trans. Michael Shaw. Minneapol is: University of Minnesota Press, 1984. Cage, John. Silence Middletown: Weslyan University Press, 1973. Damasio, Antonio. The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999. Dirks, Nich olas B. "Ritual as Social Fact." Culter/Power/History: A Reader in Contemporary Social Theory. Ed. Nicholas B. Dirks, Geoff Eley, and Sherry B. Ortner. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994. 484 503. Donnellan, Declan. The Actor and the Target L ondon: Theatre Communications Group, 2005. The Fluxus Reader Ed. Ken Friedman. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1998. Goffman, Erving. Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings 4th ed. New York and London: The Free Press, 19 63. --. Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face to Face Behavior New York: Anchor Books, 1967. Higgins, Dick. f oew&ombwhnw. New York: Something Else Press, 1969. Waking Life Screenplay by Richard Linklater. Dir. Richard Linklater. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2 001. McAuley, Gay. "The Spectator in the Space." Space in Performance: Making Meaning in the Theatre. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000. 237. Myerhoff, Barbara. "The transformation of consciousness in ritual performances: some thoughts and que stions." By Means of Performance Ed. Richard Schechner and William Appel. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 245 249.
123 Oliveros, Pauline. Software for People: Collected Writings 1963 1980 Baltimore: Smith Publications, 1984. --. "Teach Yourself to Fly." Sonic Meditations Baltimore: Smith Publications, 1974: I. --. "Zina's Circle." Sonic Meditations Baltimore: Smith Publications, 1974: XV. Peacock, James L. "Ethnographic notes on sacred and profane performance." By Means of Performance Ed. Richard Schechner and William Appel. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 208 220. Schechner, Richard. Between Theater and Anthropology Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985. --. Performance Theory New York and London: Routledge, 2003. Shultis, Christopher. Silencing the Sounded Self: John Cage and the American Experimental Tradition Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998. Welsh, John P. "Performance Systems: Studies in the Concept of Group Composition." The Music of Stuart S aunders Smith. New York: Exclesior Music Publishing Company, 1995. 97 141. aesthetic autonomy The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy Blackwell Publishing 200 4. Blackwell Reference Online. 10 April 2010 < http://www.blackwellreference.com/public/book?id=g9781405106795_9781405106795 > "impulse." Oxford English Dictionary Online 2010. Oxford Online. 6 April 2010 < http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50113593?query_type=word&queryword=impulse& first=1&max_to_show=10&sort_ type=alpha&result_place=1&search_id=kBBT mGnn55 11263&hilite=50113593 > "reverberation." Oxford English Dictionary Online 2010. Oxford Online. 6 April 2010 < http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50205332?single=1&query_type=word&queryword =reverberation&first=1&max_to_show=10 >