A Question from Rotterdamse Schouwburg

12 May 2007

They’re showing That Night Follows Day in Rotterdam as part of De (Internationale) Keuze van de Rotterdamse Schouwburg in September and are busy working on a publication to go with the season. For the publication there are interviews but they’ve also set up a complicated email thing whereby different artists in the programme get to propose questions to each other. So, yesterday, this in email:

“The question that Pavol Liska and Kelly Cooper of the Nature Theater of Oklahoma ask you is: ‘How specifically do you subvert your habits?  How do you trick yourself, on the most practical level, so your own work keeps changing and surprising you? How do you cultivate your creative longevity?'”

And my answer:

“I don’t have a strategy for this. I get tricked by accident – by being too tired, too busy, by being distracted, by getting fascinated with something that is happening, by becoming delirious (in a banal way, not thinking of hallucinogens), by making mistakes, generating accidents or by following a flow. I guess a ‘strategy’ could be putting yourself in a position where all that is more likely, however one would do that wether over a period of hours, days, weeks, months or years. As if creativity were a matter of making mistakes that you quite like and then trying (with all your best ‘craft’) to live and deal well with the consequences.”

I also proposed a question to Pavol and to Kelly, and to Lina Saneh and Rabih Mroué from Lebanon, and the other artists in the season including René Pollesch and Romeo Castellucci. Do they consider themslves to be optimists? I’ll post here if there are any responses.

Other People’s Rehearsals

4 May 2007
Edit Kaldor - Point Blank
Strange. With our own opening for That Night Follows Day coming up in the evening but the cast of kids all at school of course, we somehow have the whole day free. Seemingly (and sadly) unable to face a day in the Brussels sunshine or doing something other than work Richard and I find another dark room with no windows to sit in and go to watch a rehearsal for a new performance by Edit Kaldor, a piece called Point Blank.
Its going to be great I think. Her first solo piece Or Press Escape remains a real highlight performance for me from the last ten years, and this new one looks set to be a great follow-up to it – related in its formal structure and conceits, but pushing out in new directions too. In these pieces looking at how our lives and thought-processes can be approached through the model of the computer screen and software, and the computers’ structure of folders, communications and data storage, Edit’s doing something that I think very few other people (in performance at least) are approaching.
The funny thing about watching other people’s rehearsals (or visiting their studios) is that somehow things (issues, structures, problems) can often seem so much more visible to you than they are when you’re looking at your own work. At times this is very much a mirage, I know. But often it seems you can see the problems that other people are facing – including dilemmas and possible avenues for solution and escape – in ways that  you can’t with your own material, which is always somehow too close and too overly invested-in to be seen clearly.

The Fainting Routine

3 May 2007
Dropping like flies during rehearsals

In Brussels already for the opening of That Night Follows Day. All looking good so far. The fact that we had to make decisions about text (and almost everything else) months ago so that the kids could have fair chance to learn it and feel confident, means that things for us have been pretty relaxed in this final period. The kids are doing an amazing job. Last night’s rehearsal was kind of weird though because throughout it the kids were dropping like flies with minor variations on the old ‘stomach bug’ and ‘it’s hot in here I am fainting’ routine. Started the run with 17 onstage (how it should be) but within twenty minutes we were down to 15 and ten minutes later down to 13. As the last of these left the stage clutching his stomach I think I let out an audible ‘Christ’ – fearing I guess that soon we’d be down to a mere handful of kids in the lines, all of them tottering on the edge of hysterical/sympathetic collapse.

Things picked up after a while though and by the end we were back to 15 onstage, the other two lain down in the dressing rooms. Post run-through there was a photo-shoot for which, by some magic, everyone managed to be well.