Tobin’s Journal: May 15, 2005 Sunday

Sunday, May 15, 2005

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Finished off the trio of scratch performances on Saturday night. We changed ideas and pieces of the work for each showing. A small arietta was added in to some of the dialogue on the second scratch, as well as changing the opening video sequence to a 2 and one half minute fade up, in the hopes of simulating the adjustment of the eye to the pitch black space. Unfortunately the studio space did not facilitate a perfect blackout, but I think the change was effective. I wrote a monologue to accompany the video, which carries on for the full 2 min 30 of this fade up, over top of Pete’s soundscape. It felt good to use my writing again. It was a one-sided eye doctor’s appointment, which morphs in a dream like-subconscious manner into references to Oedipus, specifically the state of Thebes, with the eye doctor becoming the priest of Thebes. The space is transformed into the doctors office, with eye charts and tests projected onto glass and a black back wall, while the baritone (matt) sitting in a chair, in a small strand of light, back turned to audience, engaged in the eye test. The whole space transitions to a triangle of light, and into song. Much more going on, but that’s a basic idea. I think it was effective. We started about changes only a couple hours before the audience came in, so it was stressful. and although this is the essence of scratch performance–it is hard sometimes to remember to dive in and change and receive criticism and suggestion. I found myself responding in strange and almost hostile ways. But negotiated it within myself. What an intense process. This idea of scratch is very valuable and not at all easy. We actually open up the performance to audience questions and feedback right in the middle of the showing. You feel very naked with the art. and it is good. Due to lack of arts council funding, Pete and I were also running all tech from on stage, we had a sound mixer between us, and I had a lighting board on a shelf at shin level. Interesting experience doing lights and video, difficult but great for the creation of that greater canvas. After the second scratch (Fri.) we got some great feedback from audience members. You generally spend hours in the BAC bar following the showing, discussing the show, suggestions, feelings etc. I was happy with the positive response to the video. (You generally don’t get the negative till you read the written response sheets…soon that will come….) We knew that the problem we were having at this state was clarity and conciseness—structure basically, which I think is one of the most important things–and has been present in Amanda and my conversations over the last half a year. Modern art still needs structures to support a conveyance of the information, or ideas, or intents, to the audience. As Matt’s dad put it after the show, the job of the artist is to clarify, not to mystify. This will be the task of our next phase of work on this, or one of the tasks I should say. I woke up Saturday morning and began writing a new section to try to clarify some of the ideas, accompanied by another video section on the eye theme. We added it into the show for the last night, along with a new section of dialogue and a reprise of the arietta. We were plagued by technical difficulties leading up to the last show, which made my trying to record myself speaking the new monologue a drawn out and laborious procedure, but it somehow, in the true mystery of the theatre, all started working just in time for the show to go on. I felt the new section with speaking and video definitely added, but was certainly a rough draft with much work to be done to it. Once again, the essence of a scratch, very difficult, and somehow liberating, to put a literal first draft of an idea in front of an audience.

This is all very fresh in my mind, and I do need some days of digesting to put it in perspective. I plan to write more about it when I am in Stockholm this week.

Sunday the group got together at our flat in Forest hill for a casual dinner and the start of good byes until the fall