Friday, August 13, 2010

Starting Something

This fall, I am going to be working on a brief performance piece. The hope is that this will grow into a full evening's work. I'm looking for people to join me in this endeavor.

Who I'm Looking For:

You are a performer who has maybe some dance training, maybe not, but are interested in the ways bodies can be expressive. You are interested in exaggerated physicality. Maybe you can't leap across the stage, but your body is expressive. That's the key word here: expressive bodies.

But that's not all. You are also interested in being vocal. That includes speaking lines of dialog, but it also means making sounds that are not words. This might include singing, but only if you define singing in the broadest possible sense. The performers I'm looking for are not afraid to make noise. That noise may or may not be beautiful, but it will definitely be interesting.

So, in other words, I need people who are not afraid to be foolish in rehearsal in order to find something extraordinary for performance. A sense of humor (and some comic timing) will be vital.

A tolerance for, affinity for, or belief in Christianity would be helpful. Read on below.

The Project:

I have been adapting some of the sayings and stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers into script form. We will not be portraying these in historical (i.e. 4th Century) context, but in modern dress (albeit in modern rags). This first outing for the fall will only be presenting maybe three stories, intertwined. The working title for the piece is The City, A Desert (in homage to the classic work on the Desert Fathers, The Desert, A City, by Derwas Chitty). This will be more theater than dance, but have dance elements. It will definitely be influenced by modern and post-modern dance techniques.

Regardless of what else I say below, the main point is to create a piece of performance art. It will be serious art but with a sense of humor. Much of what I outline below will not be "seen" by the audience in any tangible way.

The Process:
We'll meet once a week, according to everyone's availability and schedule. These meetings will be as much workshop as rehearsal. I have some definite ideas on how to build the look of this performance, those ideas being more starting points than anything set in stone. We'll be working on not only expressive bodies but on things like stage presence.

The project itself has religious content. The process will, as well. Theological ideas such as resurrection, incarnation, spirit, and creation (to name only a very few) will be brought up and used as imagery.

We'll be making this work in the context of the Fieldwork workshop, sponsored in Houston by Several Dancers Core. Fieldwork is a series of sessions during which artists show work and get feedback from the other artists in the session. Dates for this fall's Fieldwork are not nailed down yet, but will most certainly be on Wednesday nights, most likely starting on September 8. You may not be needed each week for the Wednesday night session. A public showcase will be produced at the end of the sessions, currently tentatively the first Sunday of November. I'll update this information as it becomes available.

This may be my work more than participants, but I'm hopeful I'll find participants who will be animated by these two inverse ideas:

Doing theology is a site for making art.
Making art is a site for doing theology.

Theology and art, in my mind, have these things in common:
Both require occasional leaps of faith.
Both are about learning how to see.
Both are concerned with creativity, creating, creation.
Both are personal but not isolating, that is, both are best undertaken in community.

I hope that discussions will spin out of the process, and maybe some fresh theological insight for broader consumption will result. As noted above, however, this is not what the audience will see on stage. It will merely inform the making of the performance.

Interested? Intrigued? Email me at neilellisorts at yahoo dot com.