Know Nothing

27 October 2007

Workshop in Amsterdam at AHK the last couple of days, working with Edit Kaldor on her pilot research project about contemporary dramaturgy. Forced Entertainment‘s Bloody Mess is a case study and the 13 students are working two weeks around the piece, exploring practically. It was a pretty intensive/exhausting two days of focus for me and now they continue with Edit alone, headed towards showings next week.

What I liked most perhaps was the potential for mis-hearing and misunderstanding; the ways in which instructions in this context are often taken in unexpected directions. This, for sure, happens more in this workshop situation than in FE rehearsals – since a workshop like this one is a temporary group of people drawn from different disciplines, all with their own baggage and concerns, and who in any case have very different levels of familiarity with the aesthetic of the performance work they’re looking at. I really liked this combination of unruly-ness and hesitation though. I liked that there’s a friction, a pulling into new places as well as a sensitivity to the rules and frames that are set up, and the work – produced in between these things – was often really strong.

Watching the workshop in the morning yesterday I was already talking with Edit and making temporary assumptions about what material could be useful, and what was destined for some sort of revision or scrap heap. But I tend to be slow, and rather than act immediately on this set of inclinations we tried to keep things open, throwing some of the less defined material into a couple of open-ended improvisational structures, ‘just to see’. This was the highlight for me.. Seeing the stuff that had been unclear at first get space and time to be something, to make its potential clear. And seeing how this process also unlocked other material, other potential in the work. I had to remind myself a bit how valuable it can be to take time, to work with things, to see where they can go… instead of making snap judgements. Know nothing as a kind of operating principle. Or maybe know as much as you can and then try to forget it for a while.

(All this of course, in a context where there’s a totally absurd short amount of time. So in this instance ‘taking time’ means pushing something for an extra hour….)